IRWIN ALLEN WOULD BE PROUD

31 May

3593523-sgtfury5+-+cover 1. San Andreas/WB Wknd/$ 53.2 Total/$ 53.2
3. Tomorrowland/Disney Wknd/$ 13.8 Total/$ 63.2
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal Wknd/$ 14.4 Total/$ 147.5
4. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB Wknd/$ 13.6 Total/$ 115.9
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney Wknd/$ 10.9 Total/$ 427.1
6. Aloha/Sony Wknd/$ 10.0 Total/$ 10.0
7. Poltergeist/Fox Wknd/$ 7.8 Total/$ 38.3
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 5.4
9. Hot Pursuit/WB Wknd/$ 1.4 Total/$ 32.4
10. Home/Fox Wknd/$ 1.8 Total/$ 168.1

IT DWAYNE JOHNSON’S THE BOX OFFICE!
San Andreas opens at number one and this is very important to Dwayne Johnson for two reasons. Number 1: that’s the only name associated with this. “The Rock” is nowhere to be seen. Probably there’s a good chance Jim McMahon owns it, in yet another way the straight entertainment industry and porn intersect. So to be able to keep all the money he makes, Johnson needs to put The Rock in his rearview as much as humanly possible. Number 2: he’s the only star and it’s not sequel. While clearly successful, that Johnson’s career hasn’t exactly gone the way any one had thought isn’t a secret. While a boost to sequels, he has failed to carry films all by himself. Probably because he and his agents/managers have horrible, horrible middle-0f-the-road, being-too-safe tastes. I mean look at this. It’s straight up, by-the-numbers disaster porn. It couldn’t be any safer if it actually was a sequel. Like any genre film, no one is really coming to see him as much they are to see Los Angeles and San Francisco die horribly. I mean, it’d be great if there were a charismatic star there to help it along, but it’s not really required. He’s here for the same reason Dennis Quaid was in The Day After Tomorrow and John Cusack was in 2015: they were of a certain age and needed an easy pitch to boost the resume. San Andreas is actually better disaster porn than The Day After Tomorrow and 2015, not simply because Johnson is more fun to watch, but because they eschew the disaster film trope of multiple storylines around the event. It’s basically two: Johnson and Carla Gugino trying to get to their daughter in San Francisco and their daughter trying to stay alive until they come. Okay there’s Paul Giamatti and “The Scientist Who Knew It Was Coming” but that’s it. All he does is warn people there’s no dramatic struggle on his end. That not only pares the film down, but clearly allowed them to put that money into more bloodless carnage. People fall and are crushed, but there’s no sign of corpses. Seriously. Every one dies perfectly hidden by the rubble so Johnson’s pretty daughter is spared having to make her way through a city of the dead and dying. In your typical disaster film, she’d be picking up survivors on the way, but this spares us that cliché for a leaner, clearly meaner disaster film. And honestly the less of this “writing” the better because it’s as clichéd as you can imagine. Just like every other disaster movie the hero and his wife are divorcing due to a tragedy in the past (they lost a daughter). And just like every other disaster movie the guy she’s now with is handsome, rich and successful. And just like every other disaster movie, the new guy is ultimately shown to a coward, leaving Johnson’s daughter trapped in parking garage (2015 actually avoids this cliché making this film less daring than a Rolan Emmerich film if you can believe that). To be fair, the man is clearly broken by the magnitude of the events around him. He’s actually trying to find help when the person he’s talking to dies in front of him, missing him by literal inches. That’s when he runs. After that, however, he’s a pure save-myself-coward. Even his sister is shown to be a total bitch before biting the dust. That’s how black and white simplistic the script is. Oh, the daughter they lost? She drowned so guess what Johnson has to save their other daughter from in the final act? I’m giving nothing away. It’s in the trailer. So yeah, less of this “writing” and more watching The Golden Gate bridge get hit by both an earthquake and a tsunami the better.

TOO BAD, KID
Pitch Perfect holds at number two, followed Tomorrowland down to number three and as the ostensible star of this is Britt Robertson. She’d be the clear-cut star if the film didn’t flat out open with George Clooney’s face. Yeah, she’s talking to him off-camera and it does eventually switch to her, but all the while you’re waiting for Clooney to come back so they can get to the trope of “Cynical Older Person Who’s Given Up Brought Back By Kid Who Still Believes.” As I mentioned before she goes from being smart, optimistic and innovative on her own to just being this annoying person who constantly asks questions when she hooks up with Girl Robot and George Clooney. The movie becomes almost meta when Clooney asks her “Why can’t you shut up and simply be amazed?” because that’s how the character should be. The character was originally a boy and I have to wonder if he’d have been allowed to be nearly as annoying or would have be been the typical fantasy stand-in for the writer/director kid boy genius they way they always are in these movies. He would have been amazed and still would have asked smart questions. Poor Britt. Between this and The Longest Ride it looked on paper like she had two sure fire successes, but both have underperformed. It seemed like she was about to break out, but she’s still stuck under the dome. Get it? She’s on that show. It only runs in the summer. See what I did there?

YOU BALLS WON’T GET SMALLER, BUT MAYBE A LITTLE SMARTER
Mad Max Fury Road is down to number four and while not doing dazzling box office numbers there is no better critically nor audience reviewed film out there. Hopefully this will give it legs, because it’s always a tragedy when a film this good doesn’t perform as well as it should. I mean despite all the talk of it being so smart it’s still a movie where cars go really fast and things go boom. Don’t be afraid, Fast & Furious fans. You’ll still like it even if you don’t understand why afterward your girlfriend starts making more decisions in your relationship and why you’re comfortable letting her.

SIGH. GUESS THIS MEANS NO SATAN CLAW EITHER
Avengers: Age of Ultron is holding at number five which actually says something given it’s now sharing theaters with San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road. In the film far too briefly is Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Strucker. In the comics Strucker was an enemy to Nick Fury in World War II, afterwards as head of Hydra and of course sometimes bumped heads with Captain America. He’s in the film for about ten minutes before being killed off-screen by Ultron. This is a waste of a good actor and a good character. Almost as much of a waste as the whole damn Hulk/Black Widow storyline. Sorry, but the more I think about it the worse it gets. Hopefully, we’ll see his evil twin children whom he genetically altered as embryos to have superpowers. Later when the sister is killed, brother keeps her tanned skin on his sword to retain his superpowers. Ewww. Maybe we’ll leave that part out.

I’M SURE THE IRONY OF THE NAME IS NOT LOST ON HIM
Aloha opens at number six and once upon a time a new Cameron Crowe film would have me at the theaters opening weekend, but Elizabethtown is apparently something neither he nor the audience can overcome. Since then it’s only been We Bought A Zoo in terms of narrative film work and I kinda gave that a pass for the same reason I did this: I’m pretty much done with movies where an older male protagonist is renewed by a much younger blonde (no, it didn’t help that Hawaii, the only state where white people are a minority is depicted as lily-white, but my main gripe is the May/December plotline). It was Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in We Bought A Zoo and now it’s Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. I actually like Emma Stone, but she’s got to stop playing the younger girl the older man can’t help himself but fall for (she also did it in a Woody Allen film with Colin Firth). Worse still, Rachel McAdams whom I absolutely adore is also in this but am prevented from seeing by this damn romantic subplot. Given Crowe’s recently divorced from Nancy Wilson (yes, of Heart) I fear this has origins in his personal life and fear only more in the future.

SHHH! IT’S HIS SECRET SHAME!
Poltergeist is down to number seven and I still have not seen an ad for this. I live in fucking New York! It’s a media hub! How is this possible!?! Sigh. Back to milk the dead cow is none other than Sam Raimi who’s listed as producer. He’s also doing an Evil Dead TV series. So I guess original work is for young people, huh, Sam?

THE REST, THE END
Far From The Maddening Crowd is down to number eight, followed by Hot Pursuit at number nine and inexplicably holding on to number ten is Home.

LESS OLD IS MORE LIKE IT
So, the summer TV season hasn’t kicked off yet, but I’ve been drawn into some springtime TV on freaking TV Land, which is a spin-off of Nickelodeon. And let me tell you, it ain’t really for kids. Younger is about a divorced 40-something who, when she can’t find a job because of her age (striking closer to home than I’d like) gets a makeover and starts pretending she’s 26. Now, while there are real life examples of similar things happening and there’s actually an actress who’s been playing teenagers for 20-years, there’s no way like Sutton Foster is passing for 20-anything. She she probably didn’t look 26 when she was 26 (theater people age hard). Even the book this is based on drew the line at 29. It’s also from Darren Starr so between that and trying to buy anyone accepting Sutton Foster as 26, I gave it a pass. Then, while channel surfing I came across a rather explicit sex scene. And by explicit I mean that even though she still had her bra on is Sarah Jessica Parker fashion they clearly he was going down her. They then moved to multiple position montage including doggystyle and reverse-cowgirl. Reverse cowgirl on a channel associated with Nickelodeon. Wow (I won’t even get into the pixelated nudity that actually does happen with another character who celebrates what she calls “Topless Tuesday” for her Twitter followers). So I watched for a little context and…it’s not too bad. Plus they appeal to my weakness: the show is clearly shot here in New York. I still fast forward any time there’s some horribly contrived scene where she’s hiding her age (she has a college aged daughter, but strangely knew nothing about Twitter), but it’s some reasonably entertaining springtime viewing.

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