Tag Archives: Dwayne Johnson

ANOTHER BLOODY SEQUEL

10 Jan

kate-beckinsale-shape-magazine-2017-03-662x993
1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story/Disney         Wknd/$ 22.0   Total/$ 477.3
2. Hidden Figures/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 21. 8   Total/$ 24.8
3. Sing/Universal                                                   Wknd/$ 19.6   Total/$ 213.4
4. Underworld: Blood Wars/SGem                    Wknd/$ 13.1    Total/$ 13.1
5. La La Land/LG                                                   Wknd/$ 10.0   Total/$ 51.7
6. Passengers/Sony                                                Wknd/$ 8.8     Total/$ 80.9
7. Why Him/Fox                                                     Wknd/$ 6.5     Total/$ 48.6
8. Moana/Disney                                                   Wknd/$ 6.4      Total/$ 225.4
9. Fences/Paramount                                            Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 40.7
10. Assassin’s Creed/Fox                                      Wknd/$ 3.8      Total/$ 49.5

THE SAD TRUTH IS NOSTALGIA PAYS…AND PAYS WELL
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story holds at number one and I’m sorry, but I cannot drink the Kool Aid on this one. It ain’t all that. It’s taking for granted your affection for this universe and so not bothering to build actual characters for you to know or care about. And on top of that throwing in useless fan shout-outs that briefly stop the momentum of a film desperately lacking it. As you know this is the story of how the plans to The Death Star came to be in the hands of Princess Leia. It’s through the use of a kinda of “Magnificent Seven in Space” which was honestly done better in Battle Beyond The Stars. What you don’t know is that it also feels the need to answer unasked questions like “Who was Red Five before Luke Skywalker?” And don’t get me started on the computer-reanimated corpse of Peter Cushing in the form of a total CGI Grand Moff Tarkin. Hella creepy and distracting. I’ve got no problem with the initial concept of the film, but it suffers from one of the same flaws as the horrible prequels: the need to set up everything that follows rather than simply tell its own story. How disappointing is it? Think of the two most inconsequential characters from Star Wars and know they show up here in a “funny” cameo.

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 1
Hidden Figures is up to number two and this completes the hat trick of critically acclaimed film with Black actors as leads that I’ve failed to see while somehow finding time to see shit like Christmas Office Party. The other two are Moonlight and Loving. But I still say I’m going to see them. I am. Stop laughing.

PLUS I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ANY SUCKY NEW SONGS
Sing is down to number three and on one hand this looks like a lot of fun. On the other it’s almost two fucking hours long and this is simply not a two-hour concept. The songs do not need to be played to completion to get the joke and I have the funny feeling that’s exactly the mistake they’ve made here. But I’m sure on cable it will be nothing but fun.

HOT CHICK + ACCENT + GUNS = MY MONEY
Underworld: Blood Wars opens at number four and yes, this I found time for. Sorry, but it’s been a 14-year commitment for me. Well, that and the neverending delight of Kate Beckinsale in skintight rubber. When we last left her the nocturnal family (vampire, half-vampire-half-werewolf and their daughter) had been reunited despite the lack of Scott Speedman. If you think CGI Tarkin was distracting at least he looked like Peter Cushing. The budget of Underworld simply couldn’t handle recreating Speedman and did some sad shit to a poor actor thinking maybe porn would have been less humiliating. Also, Kate Beckinsale’s character been in suspended animation for 15 years and in that time had not given birth to to the afforementioned daughter but humans had learned of both vampires and werewolves and were trying to wipe them all out. As it turned out werewolves were behind all that getting their revenge on almost being wiped out by vampires in the previous films. Well, all that’s gone. No, seriously. They don’t mention anything about the change in the status quo or how werewolves infiltrated the mainstream. All that remains is Kate Beckinsale’s half-vampire-quarter werewolf daughter and the fact the vampires are now on the ropes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is big, emotional moments in the film that tie characters back to the first Underworld and threaten to provide actual character development are rushed through. Imagine if Darth Vader had reveal himself to be Luke’s father and there wasn’t even a beat of drama then he followed it up with “And Leia is your sister.” And even that was followed up by something else as if they had to get it all in before the movie ended. This movie is only 91 minutes so easily could have spared the characters another eight or nine minutes so they could react to things and at least feign giving their characters depth. Being almost two hours long didn’t hurt the first film and why it still remains the best is due to the wide variety of individual characters who are in fact given those little “beats.” There’s the potential for that here as we are introduced at least five new characters who seem interesting, but again, none are really given the time to be fleshed out. We never even learn the bad guy’s plan, which is kind of important because he actually says he’s trying to end the war between vampires and werewolves. And he’s got a vampire lover trying to help him for the same reason. That’s kind of an important plot point given Kate Beckinsale repeatedly expresses how she’s tired of the killing. Finally, at $35M you don’t have the loot for elaborate CGI, so again look to the original and see how many of the werewolf effects were practical, not computer animated. Being the 4th best out of a five movie series is not exactly impressive (in order of best to worst they are Underworld, Underworld Rise of the Lycans, Underworld Evolution, Underworld Blood Wars and Underworld Awakening).

CAN’T GET FROM UNDER THAT “BURDEN” CAN YOU?
LaLa Land is down to number five and I have zero desire to see this, but it’s an Awards favorite now so I guess I have to. Sorry, but they lost me at “White Guy Who Will Be The Savior of Jazz” character and nothing I’ve read about it is really changing my mind.

SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL SOMETHING THAT’S BETTER IN SHORTER FORM
Passengers is down to number six and this is yet another Outer Limits/Twilight Zone episode that escaped into theaters. Chris Pratt is an engineer on a spaceship that puts passengers into suspended animation for its 120-year travel time. Unfortunately a meteor storm damages the ship and wakes him up and he cannot go back, so after a year of isolation he wakes up 20-something hottie, Jennifer Lawrence. I like Chris Pratt, but his acting skills aren’t really up to par showing a man who basically goes nuts from loneliness and dooms another person rather than be alone. Jennifer Lawrence can’t do anything with it either and she’s someone whose performance reflects the quality of her material. The biggest problem is the script won’t commit to its dark premise. They want Chris Pratt to stay a likable sane guy but a likable sane guy wouldn’t do what he does, so he has to either be an asshole or nuts and they won’t allow him either. And don’t get me started on the cop-out ending… The Twilight Zone wouldn’t have wussed out like that.

I MEAN…LOOK AT HIM!
Why Him is down to number seven and one of biggest problems in Hollywood is how long they try to hold onto a “younger” male actor. James Franco is not the young male lead any longer. He’s pushing 40 and this role is clearly supposed to be someone in their 20’s. Notice they didn’t cast his love interest older. Nope. She’s actually in her 20’s while he’s “playing” that role. And it looks like ass to boot.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!
Moana is down to number eight and Disney needs to stop pushing the ballad for Oscar consideration. The best song is “You’re Welcome.” Not to mention, if nominated it means we’ll see Dwayne Johnson singing it at the Oscars (with help from writer Lin Manuel Miranda). Now who doesn’t want that!?!

FAILURE OF THE BLACK MAN PT 2
Fences is down to nine and my Guilt Trilogy has become a Guilt Quadrilogy because I haven’t seen this fucking thing either. Sigh. I’m failing at being Black in 2017…clearly holding over from 2016.

SAVED FROM MYSELF
Finally, Assassins Creed closes out the top ten at number ten and if I had the time I so would have saw this. I’m sad.

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LIKE MOST THINGS IT’S HARDER THAN IT LOOKS…ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU SUCK

12 Dec

HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actor Dwayne Johnson (L) and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda perform onstage at The World Premiere of Disney’s "MOANA" at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, November 14, 2016 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

1. Moana/Disney                                         Wknd/$ 55.5    Total/$ 81.1
2. Office Christmas Party/Paramount    Wknd/$ 17.5    Total/$ 17.5
3. Fantastic Beasts & Where…/WB         Wknd/$ 10.8   Total/$ 199.3
4. Arrival/Paramount                                 Wknd/$ 5.6     Total/$ 81.5
5. Doctor Strange/Disney                          Wknd/$ 4.6     Total/$ 222.4
6. Allied/Paramount                                  Wknd/$ 4.0      Total/$ 35.6
7. Nocturnal Animals/Focus                     Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 6.2
8. Manchester By the Sea/RAtt                Wknd/$ 3.2     Total/$ 8.3
9. Trolls/Fox                                                 Wknd/$ 3.1     Total/$ 145.5
10. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF                           Wknd/$ 2.3      Total/$ 60.2

BETTER TO SERVE IN FAMILY FILM HEAVEN THAN RULE IN ACTION MOVIE HELL
Moana holds the top spot and as the voice of the supporting character is Dwayne Johnson as the demi god Maui. This is perfect for him. Dwayne Johnson and Hugh Jackman have both had spectacularly spotty careers for tall, handsome, charismatic men. One out of every five films is a success and if you’re Jackman the letter “X” is probably in the title. The difference being Johnson finally realized he was better as part of a team than a lead, thus he joined GI Joe and The Fast & The Furious it’s been easy street ever since. Even in comedies, he’s working with someone else and here he’s supporting the title character and honestly doesn’t show up until almost of a third of the way through. The result is that this basically the best movie he’s ever made. And it’s also not out of the question that his character’s “theme song” just might put him on the Oscar stage for Best Song. Hell, I bought the damn thing and I hate, hate, hate musical animated movies. I know what the damn story is. You don’t have to sing it to me!

UNCOOKED COMEDY STEW
Office Christmas Party opens at number two and one sign of people who are good at what they do is that they make it seem easy. So easy it seems like anyone can do it. Athletes, musicians, porn stars…they do what we’d all like to do and make it seem like it’s not work at all. Well, it is and some of the people who do work that looks easy are the creators of the various raunchy “R-rated” slob comedies, who can trace their origins back to Mel Brooks and Animal House in the 70’s and have been reborn over the last decade or so with the comedies of Judd Apatow and the stable of actors he uses. It definitely seems easy. Take some lovable losers, let them curse, do things we’d all love to do without fear of repercussion, defeat nasty uptight assholes and show some boobs along the way. What we forget is for every one of these that succeeds there are half a dozen other that fail creatively and financially. Office Christmas Part is one such failure of the former. It has all the elements of a perfect raunchy movie: an office of kooky characters headed by the biggest character of them all is about to be shut down by his uptight bitter sister unless they land a big account and they decide to do so by throwing a big office party that gets totally out of control. Add to this a cast of talented comedic actors some of whom have had success in the recent R-comedies (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Anniston, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Jillian Bell and Randall Park) and this should have been an easy win. But it doesn’t gel. Even moments that should have been funny fail because there’s no energy or heat to the proceedings and that failure starts at the basic level: the writing. No less than six of the most untalented comedy writers working were part of this. Sorry, but the guy who wrote Pixels, Just Go With It and This Means War shouldn’t be allow to do anything but serve you fries. I know they thought one of the guys who wrote The Hangover would help, but that anti-talented asshat also cranked out the mediocrity that was Bad Moms, 21 & Over and The Change Up (a few of those R-rated failures we mentioned earlier). Did you think one of the writers for Sacha Baron Cohen would help? Why!?! Add to this one newbie writer and another whose biggest credit is was an episode of the odious Trophy Wife TV show and why this fails is abundantly clear, but hey let’s top it off with two directors who brought you Blades of Glory and The Switch. One failure and one moderate success (which can be credited to Will Ferrell more than anything). And the real, cruelest irony is that it’s not bad because it’s not interesting enough to be bad. When they run this on TV it can pretty much go uncut except for brief nudity and a little cursing. That’s how bland it is. Such a waste of both talent and a concept.

IT HELPS REDMAYNE ISN’T A DRUNK
Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them is down to number three and how do you think Colin Farrell felt about seeing Eddie Redmayne every day? Once Farrell was the new hot young thing destined for greatness and now he’s the bad guy in a big CGI franchise movie that stars a hot young thing, who not only fulfilled his promise but did so almost immediately. I’m thinking it either stung a little or he’s achieved a level of zen about it all and it just happy to be able to still get a paycheck in a big CGI franchise.

YOU KNOW THERE ARE OTHER MINORITIES IN THE MILITARY TOO
Arrival is down to number six and also in this is Forrest Whittaker who you may remember has an Oscar. Nonetheless I think he’s here only because they couldn’t get either Samuel L. Jackson or Lawrence Fishburne as Black Guy of Significant Rank To Show We’re Not Racist because no way was a person of color going to be the lead.

THE NEW FACIAL HAIR STAR
Doctor Strange is down to number five and is now the 9th highest grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beating out both Thors (big surprise) Ant-Man, The Incredible Hulk and the First Captain America Movie. In other words almost everything that didn’t have Robert Downey Jr in it. Read into that what you will, but if you’re Benedict Cumberbatch’s agent you’re very happy right now.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS
Allied is down to number six followed by Nocturnal Animals at seven and I’m interested in both these grown up, totally adult films which have gotten decent reviews, but yet I saw the universally Office Christmas Party instead. I’m part of the problem. But so are you.

I KNOW ME. I MAY NEVER SEE IT.
Oscar bait Manchester by the Sea enters the top ten at number eight and I tell myself I’ll see this but again, I saw Office Christmas Party this weekend. Heavy sigh.

IT GOES WITH THE JUST DESSERTS
Trolls is down to number nine and know it’s killing these people that their film with is based a firm piece of pop culture, had superstar Justin Timberlake doing not just the voice but wrote a hit song for it and still didn’t do as well as The Secret Life of Pets whose main voice was Louis CK. Seriously, it literally hasn’t made half as much and has made in six weeks what Moana made in three. I drink their confusion and disappointment like the sweetest wine.

JUST DON’T LET US SEE YOU
Finally, Hacksaw Ridge closes out the top ten at number ten and this was not the disappointment you may think it is. It only cost $40M and has made $60M domestically. Not a home run, but not a strike out either and if it gets any Oscar nods (probably for sound design like war movies usually do) Mel Gibson’s career as a director will continue (though his acting career will remain as dead as Dickens).

ONE OF THOSE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES
I know it’s late for TV, but I’ve really been enjoying No Tomorrow, which will probably be cancelled tomorrow, thus living up to its name. Truth be told I don’t know how this got the greenlight to begin with. A romantic comedy about a woman who plays it safe who meets a guy who thinks the world will end in 8 months and so is trying to live life as much as possible and gets her out of her shell to start living the same way is a movie, not an open ended series. After all, the world won’t end in 8 months and how long can you put that off? After that you just have to accept he’s nuts. But for now it’s light and fun and they do develop the supporting cast which helps make it interesting. They don’t stay in one place, which is almost unheard of for TV as the Slutty Best Friend has to always be the Slutty Best Friend but here she gets her own subplot, which allows her to develop. And they have shown consequences for his lifestyle. Since he thinks the world will end he spends money like, well, there’s no tomorrow, but the bill is coming due today and a few episodes in he loses his home and most of his possessions. Again, that’s development you don’t expect in such a lighthearted premise and honestly cannot stretch out for five years. But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts because like the beliefs of its male lead, it doesn’t have a future.

REVIVAL OF 1776 IN THREE, TWO, ONE…
So I got me some culture of a different sort thanks to my musical theater-loving cousin who occasionally comes into the city on business (she’s an attorney for the Justice Department) and always tries to catch a show. Well, she couldn’t make it this time and so sent me her ticket to none other than Hamilton. No, I’m not kidding. Sorry I this hurts you, but fortune tends to smile on lowly creatures. Now, I never would have seen this on my own. Ever. I simply do not care for musical theater. In fact, if Gene Kelly isn’t dancing you can actually keep musicals, period. The closet I’ve come was a date with a woman who was a sound engineer for the documentary about the making of the show. So when she cleared me to sell it if I couldn’t make it that was my thought first and foremost. Get the money, dolla-dolla bills y’all. But as we all know guilt rules my life so if I sold it had to be for an extravagant amount so when I told my cousin she’d understand. This is how it wound up on Stub Hub for $1200. Now, if that seems a lot, know that it was a) mezzanine center and front and b) seats around it were going for $1500 so I was actually undercutting the competition. But by 7:30 the night of the show no one had bought it and since it was a physical ticket that needed to be picked up it was clear no one would, so I begrudgingly let the dreams of serious Christmas shopping with that extra loot fade away (they were such nice boots…). Fortunately it was very good. I mean, I don’t know musical theater so I’ve got little to compare it to. I saw Wicked (again because of her), which was also a huge Broadway show but don’t remember much about it and only remember one song from it, while Hamilton held my attention for the 2+ hours it ran and I’ve honestly been listening to the soundtrack ever since. My favorite song is “The Schuyler Sisters” but a close second is everything from the King of England, which is done delightfully in Brit-pop style in contrast to the R&B feel of the rest of it. As you may know it’s famous for incorporating rap and hip-hop into this story of one of America’s founding fathers (created our initial financial system, the Coast Guard, The New York Post and is on the $10 bill), but when all is said and done it’s still 50% straight-up Broadway “I’m gonna sing you the plot and my character” which normally I hate. It makes sense that the same person who wrote the song from Moana that I love wrote and starred in this as well: Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now, I didn’t see him. He’s long gone from the show as are a lot of the original stars. In fact, I saw the understudy to the guy who’s taken over the lead, but again, I’ve nothing to compare it to so I thought they were all great. In fact, in listening to the original cast soundtrack I prefer the Understudy-to-the-Replacement because he has a better voice. He had to. He got the role by earning it whereas Lin-Manuel was the star because he wrote it and didn’t have to compete for it. The show is taken from a modern warts-and-all bio of Alexander Hamilton and watching it I was reminded I was actually a bit obsessed with that type of history and that time in American history for awhile in high school thanks to Gore Vidal who wrote the historical novel Burr, about the man who kills Hamilton in a duel (though it can be argued what killed most men of duels in that time was infection from the wound) and is a major part of the show. Vidal is notoriously iconoclastic and I loved his work. The show is similar as it doesn’t shy away from Hamilton’s flaws, most notably his voracious need to climb in society due to his humble beginnings, but decides to keep its lead somewhat sympathetic in omitting one of the rumored reasons for the duel that ended him: Hamilton was telling people Burr had an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Yeah, you deserve to get shot for that shit. I was also all about Thomas Jefferson who was the perfect founding father to me as writer of The Declaration of Independence, the bill establishing religious freedom, executed the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the country, created the University of Virginia and died on the muthafucking 4th of July. Of course my continued reading killed this hero worship, starting with his inability to oppose slavery and hammered home by his slave-mistress/sister-in-law Sally Hemmings. Yes, she was the daughter of his father-in-law making her technically his wife’s sister and his sister-in-law. He also raped her regularly enough to bear him some kids (it’s rape because a slave cannot give consent). Also, the land he bought from France really wasn’t theirs to sell and contributed to the genocide of the its Native America populace. Nonetheless, when he makes his appearance in the show as a significant character, I was delighted and loved every little aside about his accomplishments (there’s even a Sally Hemmings mention). Hero worship dies hard it seems. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be frequenting any more Broadway shows, but for something I got utterly for free and making no effort it was a pretty good time. And it was needed because good art has a way of inspiring you and improving your view of the world. After seeing this I was optimistic about the future no matter how what the news tells me. After all, do you really think this is the first time we’ve had racists running the country who’d sell us all out for a dollar and wipe their asses with The Constitution? Hardly and we made it through. Then I saw Office Christmas Party and left convinced of our doom and I still haven’t shaken it. So the lesson here is good art will help you make it through, like a good-hearted negro friend in the movie of your life. But don’t pay hundreds of dollars for it. That’s just stupid.

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LIKE MOESHA, BUT WITH “ANA”

27 Nov

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1. Moana/Disney                                                             Wknd/$ 55.5   Total/$ 81.1
2. Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them/WB     Wknd/$ 45.1   Total/$ 156.2
3. Doctor Strange/Disney                                              Wknd/$ 13.4   Total/$ 205.1
4. Allied/Paramount                                                      Wknd/$ 13.0   Total/$ 18.0
6. Trolls/Fox                                                                     Wknd/$ 10.3  Total/$ 135.1
5. Arrival/Paramount                                                     Wknd/$ 11.3   Total/$ 62.4
7. Almost Christmas/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 7.6     Total/$ 36.7
8. Bad Santa 2/BG                                                          Wknd/$ 6.1      Total/$ 6.1
9. Hacksaw Ridge/LGF                                                  Wknd/$ 5.5     Total/$ 52.2
10. The Edge of Seventeen/STX                                   Wknd/$ 3.0     Total/$ 10.3

LIKE MOESHA, BUT “ANA”
Moana opens at number one to the surprise of no one and at the end of the previous decade Pixar took over running the Disney animated department, which had fallen on hard times. How hard? Let’s run down this list from that 10 years: Bolt, The Princess & The Frog, Meet the Robinsons, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch, A Christmas Carol, Dinosaur and Brother Bear. Yeah, exactly. Now, this is what Pixar did in that same time: Wall-E, Up, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Cars. Basically the inverse of one another. One produced mostly classics (Cars and the cooking rat movie are the rare Pixar misses) and the other produced mostly duds (and I loves me some Lilo & Stitch). Since Pixar took over it’s been Tangled (which they almost totally revamped), Wreck It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and of course Frozen. And now with Moana they’ve raised Disney’s animated department to their level. This is as good as a Pixar film. I am not kidding. It’s a fucking musical—which I despise—and it’s still amazing. I will be buying this fucker the second it’s available. This is not to say it’s reached the emotional depths of movies like Up or Inside Out but it’s as much fun as the first Toy Story or A Bug’s Life (the underrated gem) and damn sure better than Cars (everything is better than Cars). Basically, it’s the movie Brave should have been. It’s even aware of itself enough to make jokes about the other Disney movies. Again, so good I didn’t mind the musical numbers (I know what the goddamn story is and don’t need it sung to me).

THE QUEEN BASICALLY ORDERS YOU
Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them is down to number two, still printing money for the JK Rowling factory. I never read a single Harry Potter book and was forced to see but one film so this is meaningless to me. Meaning. Less. I’m just happy to see an indie boy like Eddie Redmayne get a way to pay the bills. It’s the traditional route. Nicholas Cage didn’t become a ginormous whore until after he got his Oscar, Halle Berry did Catwoman right after her Oscar and Charlize Theron did Aeon Flux after hers. Gotta get that paper. I think being English, being in a Harry Potter movie is like an obligation. Like a period piece about the monarchy, they all have to do it at least once.

HIS BLAND AMERICAN ACCENT DIDN’T HELP
Doctor Strange is down to number three and also in this in the grand Marvel tradition of wasting good to great actors as dull, one-note villains is Mads Mikkelsen who, like all the other actors in this film would have been a better Doctor Strange than Benedict Cumberbatch. In their scenes together he just basically wipes the bland Brit off the screen….like Chiwetel Ejiofor or Bendict Wong or Tilda Swinton… But he does this a lot in his movies and even on TV. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing the remake of Clash of the Titans, he’s the best thing about it. Walking sheet of blank paper Sam Worthington didn’t stand a chance against him. That he ruled Hannibal as the titular character over Hugh Dancy goes without saying.

ANGELINA JOLIE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING THEN
Allied opens at number four in yet another attempt at “counter programming” against the other escapist fare, apparently not realizing adults have to take their kids to all the above movies. I honestly want to see this. It looks like Mr. & Mrs. Smith: 1942 and I don’t have a problem with that at all.

OTHER ALIENS I MEAN
Arrival is down to number five and given that everyone is in a comic book movie these days, this will now be known as “That Time Hawkeye Teamed Up With Lois Lane to Speak To Aliens.”

SHUT UP AND RELEASE ANOTHER ALBUM
Trolls is down to number six and add it to the list of Justin Timberlake failures. Seriously. $135M from $125M budget is not a raging success and now that something worthwhile has been released with actual memorable music, kiss it goodbye.

THIS TIME THE AUDIENCE FUCKED SANTA BY NOT GOING
Almost Christmas is down to number seven, followed by Bad Santa 2 opening at number eight and who the hell asked for this? Seriously. The highlight of the first was Gilmore mom (oh, you go look up her fucking name if you care so much) humping Billy Bob while repeating “Fuck me, Santa. Fuck me, Santa.” Similarly, the highlight of this one seems to be the big-titty redhead from Mad Men (oh, you go look up her fucking name if you care so much) wanting to be done doggystyle behind a dumpster and thanks to the Red Band trailer I’ve seen it. Billy says doing the Fargo series convinced him good work could be done on TV. I’d say it was more the shit he was being offered for theatrical releases that did it.

ONLY THROUGH BART SIMPSON CAN WE EVEN THE SCORE
Hacksaw Ridge is down to number nine and also in this is Theresa Palmer and I don’t know why, but I’m always glad to see her working. I just feel she got a raw deal as the “New Pretty Blonde.” What’s funny is she’s one of three Australians in this movie. Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths are also here trotting out their regional American accents. I see them all sharing a giant Foster’s after work and laughing their asses off about how they do it better than actual Americans.

IF THE SONG ISN’T IN THIS I’M NOT WATCHING IT
Finally, The Edge of Seventeen is down to number ten and I actually wanted to see this, but didn’t know it was out. Oh, well. Thankfully, Netflix is fulfilling my indie film needs in my old age. The title obviously comes from the Stevie Nicks song which comes from her meeting Tom Petty’s first wife who in her regional accent told Nicks that she and Petty had met at the “age” of seventeen, but sounded like “edge.” And no, it’s not about an older woman boning a younger man. Sorry to kill that for you.

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BOO! VAGINAS!

18 Jul

Alexander-Skarsgard-The-Legend-Of-Tarzan-New
1. The Secret Life of Pets/Universal        Wknd/$ 50.6     Total/$ 203.1
2. Ghostbusters/Sony                                Wknd/$ 46.0     Total/$ 46.0
3. The Legend of Tarzan/WB                   Wknd/$ 11.1       Total/$ 103.1
4. Finding Dory/Disney                             Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 445.5
5. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates     Wknd/$ 7.5        Total/$ 31.3
6. The Purge: Election Year/Universal   Wknd/$ 6.1        Total/$ 71.0
7. Central Intelligence/WB                        Wknd/$ 5.3       Total/$ 117.5
8. The Infiltrator/BG                                  Wknd/$ 5.3       Total/$ 6.7
9. BFG/Disney                                             Wknd/$ 3.7        Total/$ 47.3
10. Independence Day 2/Fox                    Wknd/$ 3.5       Total/$ 98.5

IT’S TWO HOURS OF SLEEPING AND BALL LICKING
The Secret Life of Pets holds at number one and I had zero interest in seeing this movie when the jokes in the trailer seemed so…conventional, but I am clearly alone in this. Yeah, it’s summer and seemingly damn near anything that can keep your out-of-school kids occupied for two hours can make a dollar if you’re even the least bit competent, but it’s gotten some decent reviews as well. So, maybe on cable in 18 months. Maybe. I mean that damn movie about blue parrots is on cable now too, but I still won’t watch it.

UNLIKE THEIR REAL LIVES, THIS IS FILLED WITH WOMEN
Ghostbusters: It’s Chicks Now opens at number two and the lonely, neckbeards who kicked and screamed and stomped their feet over this remake are undoubtedly cheering for it missing the number one slow. I don’t know why. It’s still a solid opening with some decent reviews so it’s not a failure creatively or financially. Well, the latter still remains to be seen, but I think it’ll be okay. Not to mention, to be perfectly the original Ghostbusters wasn’t that goddamn great. It wasn’t and you’re either lying or only saw it as a child the first time. It’s a solid “B” which unfortunately came from three guys who’d made “A” comedies around the same time. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray both had Stripes and Dan Akroyd had Trading Places and even Sigourney Weaver would have Working Girl by the end of the decade. But I have to admit this is not better than the original. It lacks the focus in both storytelling and character and fails to make the most of its reservoir of comedic talent. Not to mention the very New York attitude of the original is sorely missing. I mean, you’ve got a problem when the funniest person is Chris Hemsworth, who is not successful because of his comedic chops. He not only gets to play the rock dumb receptionist but also the villain when his body is possessed but even that is undercut by an omission of a potentially great comedic sequence and just using it to accompany the credits (seriously, don’t leave until the lights come up). It’s a B- remake of a movie that was a B+ on its best day. Not to mention if Ghostbusters was so fucking sacred to you, then Ghostbusters 2 was more fucking sacrilegious to you than this could ever be as it just flat out remade the first and poorly. The best thing about it was the Bobby Brown song…which itself was a remake of his “Don’t Be Cruel.”

WHICH SIDE YOUR BREAD IS BUTTERED, GENIUS!?!
The Legend of Tarzan is down to number three and I meant to see this but then I read Alexander Skarsgard say in an interview that he doesn’t get to wear the loincloth even though he had in fact campaigned for it. And I get it. You don’t put on twenty pounds of muscle to play an ironic hero then get told you can’t wear the iconic clothing. That the director failed that basic bit of common sense to have Tarzan in his famous garb, not to mention the obvious commercial aspect of Alexander Skarsgard in a fucking loincloth let me know that maybe, just maybe his common sense failed in a lot of other areas as well. It looks something that’s probably most enjoyable at home while clothed in one’s own loincloth like garment.

WOMEN WHO TALK DIRTY
Finding Dory is down to number four followed by Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates at five and once again, Zac Efron gives the finger to playing to his looks and goes straight for the crude “R” rated dollar. Back with him is his Bad Grandpa costar, Aubrey Plaza, but also dipping a toe into the dirty pool this time is none other than Anna Kendrick who brings along her Pitch Perfect costar, Adam Devine. Everybody’s taking a trip to the dark side it seems. I’ve never seen a single one of Zac Efron’s movies and nothing about the way this looked threatened to change that, but I am hoping one day to give an Aubrey Plaza movie my money. I do like her and she’s even more fearless as Efron in her choice of comedic roles (check out The To Do List on cable).

LIKE IT COULD BE ANYMORE RIDICULOUS THAN REALITY
The Purge: Election Year is down to number six, but do not fear. At $70M from a $10M budget, this series isn’t going anywhere any time soon, even though the plot of this film has to do with getting rid of the titular occurrence. And even though it’s made serious loot, you know the producers wish they’d had an inkling of what the political situation would be so they could incorporate it into the film itself. The best they could do was to add “Make America Great Again” into the ad campaign.

TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT, BUT CAN CARRY THE OCCASIONAL FILM
Central Intelligence is down to number seven and Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart continue their streak of neither being able to carry a film themselves but to pair up with someone who can help them. It’s like two half-stars making a single star, rather than a film with two actual stars, like the similar Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

GROWN UPS TAKE THE SUMMER OFF TOO
The Infiltrator opens at number eight and this is what we call “counter programming” kids. Every summer someone tries to release a serious drama in the middle of summer convinced that adults would be dying for release from the neverending series of big budget action, science fiction and kids movies. They are almost always wrong. Look for this to probably get a brief re-release in the fall to generate some awards notice. I mean it is Bryan Cranston in a “based on a true story.” It would have to be a total dumpster fire not to. Ooh. Only 66% on Rotten Tomatoes? Ouch. Methinks I smell smelly smoke. And poor Benjamin Bratt. To be so pretty yet still have to play the roles that Latino actors have to play. This is yet another drug dealer for him. At least go back to playing cops, dude. Or get a sitcom. ABC has a black family comedy and an Asian family comedy. Be the dad in their Latino family comedy!

YOU SHOULD HAVE DIRECTED THE STAR WARS MOVIE AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT
The BFG is down to number nine and I can’t help but enjoy this failure because not only is it Steven Spielberg, not only is it his first film with Disney, but it’s in the middle of summer on top of it! Once upon a time that would have been a license to print money, but here it’s one. big. flop. And did I mention it’s also based on a well-known children’s book? That means it had a built-in audience and still couldn’t get it done. Their first mistake was to keep that acronym title instead of going with Big Friendly Giant, as for the last 20 years BFG means one thing in popular culture: Big Fucking Gun from the Doom video game. Not really conducive with a children’s film. I can’t wait to see who Spielberg will blame for this and he will blame everyone but himself.

FUCK THIS GUY
My other piece of extraordinary schadenfreude is the tanking of Independence Day Resurgence. Fuck Roland Emmerich and the horse he rode in on. This asshole took women and minorities out of Stonewall (which also flopped) and later claimed it was a white male movement, then for this he brought back everyone who’d come back—including a character who fucking died in the first one—but neglected to bring back the president’s daughter, played by Mae Whitman and instead replaced her with someone more traditionally pretty (i.e., thin and blonde). His excuse was that she wouldn’t come in and read for the role. I’m not kidding. He wanted her to come in and read for her own damn role, when the real reason it most likely he didn’t think she was pretty enough to be the love interest for Liam Hemsworth. You think he asked Bill Pullman or Jeff Goldblum to read for their roles? Of course not. Bear in mind, of all the returning cast members not a single one of them was the lead in a successful theatrical film in the last decade (even Liam Hemsworth has only been a supporting player in successful films, never the lead). You know who has been? Mae Whitman, who was the star of The Duff. Not a $100M blockbuster, but it made 4x its freaking budget and she was the sole and unquestioned star. Not to mention she’s been on Parenthood for the last couple of years. To sum up, he’s an asshole and this bombed domestically and critically. Yeah, it’s making money overseas, but it won’t be enough as Warcraft just proved which made even more, but still is a failure and won’t have sequels like Emmerich hoped for this. The weird thing is the third idea actually sounded interesting: the earth invades the alien world. But again, fuck this guy.

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FINDING MONEY

20 Jun

icy
1. Finding Dory/Disney                          Wknd/$ 136.2   Total/$ 136.2
2. Central Intelligence/WB                    Wknd/$ 34.5     Total/$ 34.5
3. The Conjuring 2/WB                          Wknd/$ 15.6      Total/$ 71.7
4. Now You See Me/LG                           Wknd/$ 9.7       Total/$ 41.4
5. Warcraft/Universal                             Wknd/$ 6.5       Total/$ 37.7
6. X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox                    Wknd/$ 5.2       Total/$ 146.1
7. Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles 2      Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 71.9
8. Me Before You/Warner                      Wknd/$ 4.2       Total/$ 46.1
9. Alice Through the Looking Glass     Wknd/$ 3.6       Total/$ 69.3
10. Captain America: Civil War/BV     Wknd/$ 2.3       Total/$ 401.2

FINDING INSPIRATION
To the surprise of absolutely no one Finding Dory opens at number one. Now, I’m against Pixar sequels on principle but Pixar gets a better response than most because a) they don’t always do them, b) when they do them it’s so far down the line it’s not an obvious money grab and c) they get it right as Toy Story has defied all odds and just gotten better every time. Even Monsters University was better than it had any right to be (no comment on Cars 2 because Cars sucked). So, Finding Dory comes more than a decade after Finding Nemo because they genuinely felt there was no story to tell until now which is stunning in the entertainment business. As if that had anything to do with it. Hell, the Disney board would have been satisfied if Nemo had just gotten lost again and they’d just repeated the first. Luckily for us the Pixar creative leads wanted more and more in this case was about Dory slowly remembering her own family and going off in search of them and while it’s definitely good, there’s no singular brilliant moment like the chant of a seagull being “Mine” or the wonderful irreverence of the sharks who no longer want to eat fellow fish. Despite their good intentions to tell an original story it does feel a bit too familiar, the brightest spark being provided by an octopus who doesn’t want to return to the ocean, but instead wants a nice tank in Cleveland where no one will bother him (voiced by Ed O’Neil). One of the keys to Finding Nemo’s creative success was the wonderful supporting cast, from the adult and child populace of Nemo’s home reef to the laid back turtles to denizens of the dentist office tank to half a dozen others in between. They just don’t match that here and while we see the kids of the reef and the turtles again, they don’t have the same spark. Nonetheless it’s still better than 90% of what else is out there as the sad trailers for Storks and Ice Age: This Goddamn Franchise Has Lasted Longer Than The Actual Ice Age proved. If Finding Nemo was an A+ (and it was) then this is a solid B+. Oh, and make sure you stay through the end credits. There’s always something there…as I found out this weekend with Brave.

WHAT? COULDN’T GET PERMISSION FOR MARIAH?
Central Intelligence opens at number two and it seems logical that two of the hardest working men in show business would finally end up in a movie together. Not since Michael Caine in the 80’s have actors seeming been so omnipresent onscreen. It’s also a great creative move on both their parts for Kevin Hart to actually play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson playing the funny guy. Kevin Hart is Dean Martin while Dwayne Johnson is Jerry Lewis (ask your parents what that means). While I bear it no ill will, I have zero interest in either of them as anything beyond being supporting characters to actual leads. They simply lack that for me. The trailer shows a film, while not aimed at the lowest common denominator of comedy, is severely broad reaching. Oh, look. When Dwayne Johnson was in high school he was fat and sang En Vogue in the shower ‘cause fat guys and guys who sing girl songs are funny. In terms of wit that’s a butter knife level of sharpness. Even on cable this is a hard pass.

AND JAWLINES. DON’T FORGET THE JAWLINES
The Conjuring is down to number three and I’m also glad to see Vera Farminga here on the money train. I’ve loved her as an actress since the short-lived Finding Evil TV show and she improves pretty much everything she’s in. In my movie fantasy she and Gillian Anderson play sisters onscreen as they are seemingly cut from the same cloth (coincidentally they were both on the small screen alongside famous serial killers). In my other fantasy I’ve been very bad and they’ve come to discipline me. Soooo many icy stern looks of disappointment and contempt. Delicious

YUAN BETTER RECOGNIZE
Now You See Me 2 is down to number four followed by the Warcraft at number five and you might be seeing film history being made as China saves an entire franchise single-handedly, which is funny given how movies like Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Whichever The Fuck It Was have bent over backwards trying to win them and been met with contempt. It hasn’t even broken $40M here, but has made ten times that in overseas. Depend on how much studios get (it ranges from 15-14%) this may actually get a sequel…which America will ignore again.

ALSO HE’S A SCUMBAG
Speaking of sequels America has ignored, X-Men: Apocalypse is down to number six and hasn’t even made it’s $178M budget domestically, but like Warcraft has pulled almost $400M from overseas markets, so rest assured there will be another and this time mercifully without Bryan Singer. While he started the franchise and did good things with it, using the metaphor for oppression appropriately, he seems to have forgotten that and they need a director who remembers the core of the X-Men is also appealing to that self-important teenager drama where you think you’re special the entire world is against you for no reason at all. Yes, that’s the dark truth about the real reason so many like it. Not because you’re a person of color or your religion or your sexuality suffering genuine oppression, but because you think you’re special and the world is actively trying to hold you down. You’re wrong.

JUST KIDDING. EVERY ROLE WILL SOMEHOW PUT HER IN A FETISH COSTUME.
I thought this would be the hat trick of franchises supported by overseas money, but it turns out they care even less than we do about Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows, down to number seven. There probably won’t be a third, which must be bittersweet news to Megan Fox who has another child on the way, but at the same time doesn’t have to worry about a contrived reason to put her into a fetish costume in the near future.

LESS IS MORE…IF YOU’RE AN IDIOT AND DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR PROPERTIES
Me Before You is down to number eight, followed by Alice Through the Looking Glass at number nine and Captain America: Civil War closes out the top ten at number ten and this is why the Warner Brother/DC Comics hierarchy was recently shaken up as two movies about fighting superheroes came out this summer (well, 3 if you count X-Men, but no one cares enough to do that) with had approximately the same budgets but the one what that the 3 most famous superheroes of all time in them did significantly worse than the film that had a bunch of heroes 90% of the population had never heard of ten years ago. And by “significantly” I mean almost $900M vs over $1B. While this may not seem like too much of a difference to you and I, remember that Batman’s last two solo films both made $1B but teaming him up with Superman and Wonder Woman somehow resulted in less!?! Not good when your very next film will add even more superheroes to the roster that you also hope to spin-off into individual films. Warner Brothers is being force to reconsider their dumb-ass strategy of if your competitor has cornered the market on chocolate and you reconfigure your chocolate machines to make vanilla, rather than simply understand there’s no such thing as too much good chocolate. Instead they’ve made mediocre (Man of Steel) and bad (Batman v Superman) vanilla and surprise! People preferred the better made chocolate. Damn it. Now I want some chocolate!

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SIX PACK ABS: THE NEW AMERICAN DREAM

6 Jul

joe-manganiello-435 1. Jurassic World/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.9    Total/$ 558.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                                  Wknd/$ 30.1    Total/$ 246.2
3. Terminator: Genisys/Par                      Wknd/$ 28.7    Total/$ 44.2
4. Magic Mike XXL/WB                            Wknd/$ 11.6      Total/$ 26.7
5. Ted 2/Universal                                      Wknd/$ 11.0      Total/$ 58.3
6. Max/WB                                                   Wknd/$ 6.6       Total/$ 25.3
7. Spy/Fox                                                    Wknd/$ 5.5        Total/$ 97.9
8. San Andreas/WB                                    Wknd/$ 3.0       Total/$ 147.4
9. Me an Earl and the Dying Girl/FS      Wknd/$ 1.3        Total/$ 4.0
10. Dope/ORF                                              Wknd/$ 1.1        Total/$ 14.1

SPOILER ALERT FOR GEEK FAN THEORY
Jurassic World holds at number one and there’s a fun fan theory floating around out there is that the movie is actually a satire upon itself. It’s a needless sequel and the movie is about the needless creation of a new dinosaur. According to the theory, the movie studio being represented by the new owner of the park who wants something bigger and better than real dinosaurs, so like the makers of the film BD Wong (back for the first time since the first movie) has to make up a new one and like this movie it turns out to be a mistake. Dallas Bryce Howard tries to get corporate tie-ins to help pay for the new dinosaurs, much in the way corporate tie-ins help pay for this new movie. The cherry on top of this theory is in the end—-SPOILER ALERT—the dinosaurs that made the first film so great, the Tyrannosaurus Rex (yes, the same one from Jurassic Park) and the Veceliraptor team up and kick its ass, which is basically them showing how the first movies were better than this sequel. Bear in mind the director flat out told Spielberg that the original script he was given sucked and his name is on this one. Hmmmm…

MAYBE I WAS TOO BORING TO HAVE AN IMAGINARY FRIEND
Inside Out holds at number two and like the better Pixar films there’s an entire subtext about the death of youth that exists in this film. From Toy Story’s aging of Andy to Nemo going off on his own, the poignancy at the center is the departure from childhood and if Toy Story had you crying, you are not prepared for the fate of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong (voiced by a perfectly cast Richard Kind). It made me realize I have no memory of an imaginary friend, which is shocking given how much immaturity I’ve successfully held onto.

HE SHOULDN’T HAVE COME BACK
Terminator Genisys opens at number three and don’t worry Terminator: Salvation you’re still the worst Terminator film. Apparently the key is whether or not you have a charisma-free Australian actor as your co-male lead. Just as Terminator: Salvation had the bland lump of meat Sam Worthington whose brief career success remains a mystery, this has the even blander Jai Courtney, whose continued career in A-list action films remains a mystery. If there’s been any one constant in better Terminator films it’s been the intensity of the human characters. They truly act like high-strung individuals traumatized by the burden of having to try and save the world from the nightmare threat of annihilation by the machines. Michael Beihn’s Kyle Reese from the first film, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor in the second and yes, even Nick Stahl as John Connor in the third. Christian Bale can’t help but be intense no matter what he does, but Sam Worthington sucked it all away in his charisma-free black hole. Here, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are reunited for the first time since the first film (the deleted scene of a dream Sarah has where Kyle comes to her in T2 sadly does not count) and they don’t look so much like two people haunted by the belief that they are all that stands between humanity and annihilation so much as a couple slightly irritated by the fact the movie they wanted to see at the mall has been sold out. Here, Sarah was attacked at the age of 9 by the liquid metal T-1000 Terminator and basically raised for the last decade by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800. Who sent them both back so early? You’ll never know which is one of massive fail of this film. You’re not supposed to leave more questions than answers. But the larger issue remains the lack of bleak intensity. There’s even a tension free countdown. You can see it going wrong from the beginning where John and Kyle are exchanging wisecracks. None of this was possible in the nightmare future of James Cameron’s two films. Reese was an already traumatized war vet merely in his 20’s. None of that is to be found here. Similarly in the 12 years between Terminator 1 and 2 Sarah Connor becomes a slightly unhinged war machine. But her parents being murdered and a lifetime of being raised by a killing machine to save the future affects no such change on Sarah here. Yeah, she barks orders and fires all manner of weapons, but it’s as much movie artifice as it is every time they give a model a gun in a movie and tell you she’s a seasoned secret agent (it doesn’t help that the actress they cast looks 16 and seems to have foregone the physical transformation Linda Hamilton made). Poor casting aside, the plot is as dumb as Terminator: Salvation with lip service being paid to the mechanics and consequences of time travel. Not that I expected Neil Degasse Tyson so show up and break it down, but don’t insult me either. Its sole saving grace is Arnold as an aging machine, which in the hands of a talented filmmaker would have been a metaphor for his own career, but here is picked up and dropped off as the plot demands.

THE “A” IN USA IS FOR “ABS”
Magic Mike XXL opens at number four and where the original was basically an indie film that took the life of a Tampa stripper trying to get out seriously, with its depiction of a life on the sleazier side with a host of slightly damaged people in the world of sex work, this is basically a road comedy like anything Hope & Crosby ever did. Basically Mike is lured out of retirement by dissatisfaction with his new legit life (and broken relationship) for one last ride with the old crew to a male stripper convention in Myrtle Beach with an assortment of hijinks along the way. Seriously, that’s it. And along the way we get a series of dance numbers. Hell, the only thing separating this from being a musical is that they don’t sing during them. Oh, wait. That happens twice. Basically, while the first one was a drama, this is basically a musical comedy. But a fun one. It’s also a lot gentler on its characters than the first. While they were all seemingly losers in the first, the promise of equity in a new club their salvation, here they know it’s the end and are making plans for it, all chasing their version of the American dream, be it a yogurt food truck that also has a DJ, acting or singing or selling condoms packaged along with mints. Even when they poke fun at them (the condom with mints idea is taken) it’s in a gentle fashion. When Matt Bomer speaks sincerely about how he worked at Disneyworld, apprenticing as a Donald Duck, the audience laughs, but no one laughs at him in the film because that is legitimate success. Even Joe Manganiello’s dick, which was just a one shot dirty joke in the first film (his character’s name is Big Dick Richie) is now the source of his unhappiness because no woman wants to have sex with him. Needless to say, that also gets taken care of along the way. Speaking of women, if the overall theme of the movie was appealing to women in the first, this is flat out fan service. Every act by every man in this movie is designed to make women happy, be she a frustrated housewife, a divorcee or just the cashier at a gas station (you’ll never hear the Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” the same again). The Men of Tampa are here to make you happy, ladies.

MY PET PEEVE ONCE AGAIN
Ted 2 is down to number five and gone from this is Mila Kunis to be replaced by Amanda Seyfried, which seems odd because wasn’t the first one about Mark Wahlberg growing up so he can marry his girlfriend? But let’s not kid ourselves. Even not having seen this movie, I know the real love story is between Marky Mark and the teddy bear. The women are clearly replaceable. Or not. This isn’t doing as well as the first. But it still annoys me that 40-something Wahlberg is getting women a decade younger as his love interests. Bear in mind she’d playing a lawyer so it would make sense she’d be a little older, no?

BOTH CAUGHT THE WEB OF A BIG SUMMER PAYCHECK
Max is down to number six, followed by Spy at number seven and San Andreas at number eight and what’s the connection between Max and San Andreas? Spider-Man! See, also in Max is Thomas Hayden Church and a decade ago both he and Paul Giamatti were hot off Sideways, Hayden Church with an actual Oscar nomination. Ironically both he Giamatti wound up as a villain in a poorly-reviewed, but technically successful Spider-Man movie. But while Giamatti is still appearing in A-list summer fare like San Andreas, Hayden Church is doing movies like this. Hey, remember when he was the dumb mechanic on Wings?

CAN’T YOU SEE I’M BUSY!?!
Me, Earl & The Dying Girl breaks the top ten and this is one of those indie films that critics and audiences love that I’ll always mean to see, but simply don’t find the time. Why? ‘Cause I’m doing shit like this for you people. That’s why!

AND NOW OUR “GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS!” MOMENT
Finally, Dope closes out the top ten at number ten and one thing I can really appreciate about this film is its love of 90’s R&B. Yeah, it’s more how it was the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, but it was also the last breath of R&B, which has surrendered to auto-tune and sampling. It was already giving into sampling in the 90’s but at least people were still singing. There was even resurgence in purely vocal groups…for as long as it lasted. But yeah the hip-hop was great too. It was the last time there was rap about anything more than thug life or popping bottles with models. You’d never hear a song today like The Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” which is all about not getting a girl. And she’s never called a bitch or a ho because of it. This simply doesn’t exist anymore, yet but those goddamn, ugly-ass 90’s fashions get to come back. Sigh.

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THE LACKLUSTER WEEKEND BEFORE THE 4TH

29 Jun

time 1. Jurassic World/Universal                  Wknd/$ 54.2  Total/$ 500.1
2. Inside Out/Disney                               Wknd/$ 52.1  Total/$ 184.9
3. Ted 2/Universal                                   Wknd/$ 33.0  Total/$ 33.0
4. Max/WB                                                Wknd/$ 12.2   Total/$ 12.2
5. Spy/Fox                                                  Wknd/$ 7.8    Total/$ 88.4
6. San Andreas/WB                                 Wknd/$ 5.3     Total/$ 141.9
7. Dope/ORF                                             Wknd/$ 2.9     Total/$ 11.8
8. Insidious 3/Focus                                Wknd/$ 2.0    Total/$ 49.8
9. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                  Wknd/$ 1.7     Total/$ 147.1
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney     Wknd/$ 1.6     Total/$ 452.4

AND SHE’S CHERYL ON ARCHER, WHICH IS EVERYTHING
Jurassic World holds the number one spot and for the second time this summer Judy Greer appears in a major release, but unlike Tomorrowland a) we actually see and hear her and b) this is a massive hit. Come to think of it, it actually works in her favor. She’s clearly part of a hit, while nowhere to be seen (literally) in a flop. And her show, Married, is coming back this summer and the guy who plays her husband has an Oscar for screenwriting. No, Judy’s not doing so bad after all.

THERE’S THEATER DUST FOR ALMOST EVERY PIXAR FILM
Inside Out holds at number two and because the movie is such a critical and financial success, the otherwise wonderful short before it is being overlooked. It’s called Lava and like the best Pixar work it comes from the emotions and experiences of the writer/director. In this case he was in Hawaii where he learned that a volcano in the ocean would eventually join with the other islands and upon learning they had names, he wondered if they knew they would one day be together. The result is a musical short about a volcano alone in the ocean singing a song of love, not knowing that under the wave another volcano hears him and hopes to join him. This is when theater dust got into my eyes. You shut up! There is such a thing as theater dust!

AND THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT
Ted 2 opens at number three and not being a fan of The Family Guy or Seth McFarlane at all, I didn’t see the first and obviously didn’t see this one. And yes, I do look down on you if you do like The Family Guy and did see both this and the first one. Can you blame me? Hard to believe it’s the biggest grossing R-rated film of all time. Why not just slap Mel Brooks across the face?

GOD BLESS SGT. WOOF WOOF AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Max opens at number four and apparently if you’re down about the ruling on gay marriage you can go see a heartwarming movie about a boy and the military dog that belonged to his brother who was killed in combat. I had to check to make sure this didn’t come from one of those Christian studios. Hell, it’s not even Disney. Clearly someone looked at the summer release schedule and saw a spot for an old-fashioned right wing family film where the heroes are male and military. Oo-rah!

THE MORE YOU KNOW (COMIC BOOK GEEK EDITION)
Spy is down to number five, followed by San Andreas at number six and here in a small role as a member of Dwayne Johnson’s rescue team is Colton Haynes and if you watch Arrow, you know that’s Roy Harper aka Arsenal. And he needed this given he was just written off the show. Now is the time when I drop some geek knowledge. In the comics Green Arrow was such a clone of Batman he not only had a mansion with a cave underneath it, but a ward who was his sidekick and also in yellow and red. He was called Speedy, which on the show is the nickname of Green Arrow’s sister (a character that doesn’t exist in the comics). In the 70’s to try and seem up to date, they made Speedy a junkie (which is why the girl Speedy on the show also briefly has a drug problem) and as comics tried to become more and more relevant strongly suggested he prostituted himself for drugs, which sadly makes perfect sense, especially when Green Arrow’s reaction to finding out his surrogate son was hooked on drugs was to throw him out into the streets (Batman of course threw this in his face when Arrow brought up the second Robin being killed). The final stage to make him seem tougher was to have him abandon being called Speedy and take up the name Arsenal, a man who used all kinds of weapons. There was a brief moment where he was Red Arrow, but it didn’t stick. Now, aren’t you glad you asked?

HEY, DON’T TELL ME I DON’T KNOW SELF-HATRED WHEN I SEE IT. I’M HATING MYSELF EVEN FOR WRITING THIS!
Dope is down to number seven and also in this is Zoe Kravitz, aka Little Lisa Bonet clone (who actually has two films in the top ten given she’s in Mad Max: Fury Road). Seriously. That’s all I saw while watching this movie. Kinda like when you watch Kate Hudson. You don’t see her, only her mother. Unfortunately she is emblematic of a problem not just with this film but in far too many films that come from a black creative team: all the principal women all being light skinned. The girl he has a crush on (Zoe Kravitz), the girl he lusts for (model Chanel Iman) and even the lesbian best friend are all of a lighter hue. This is all the more glaring in light of the dark skin of the male lead. To make matters worse the closest thing to a genuine villain the film has is not just a light skinned black man, but Harvard educated no less! You’d think you were watching a Tyler Perry film. Except this is actually good (you know it’s not Spike Lee, because all the women aren’t evil bitches out to bring our hero down). It’s still a good movie and all the actors are good in their roles, but you can no more ignore the greater social implications of this than you can ignore how Ben Stiller would apparently rather die than kiss a woman onscreen who looks as Jewish as he does. Like Woody Allen before him, it’s shicksa heaven up there. Unless of course the woman in question is the butt of jokes. Then she’s as Jewish as can be. Sadly, projecting self-hatred onto women is yet another thing Black and Jews have in common.

R YOU READY FOR CONSEQUENCES FROM VIOLENCE (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
Insidious Chapter 3 is down to number eight, followed by Mad Max: Fury Road at number nine and it still hasn’t made budget in the US which is not good. Granted, it’ll probably cross it over the long holiday weekend, but at this rate it’s not going to be into the black until well into home video (DVD, pay-per-view), ‘cause god knows there are no corporate tie-ins to help offset the costs. Even the $200M+ it’s made worldwide is a bit disappointing. Let me put it this way: Jurassic World has already made $1B worldwide with literally half of it coming being domestic. This will hurt future action films in two ways: 1) being about badass women and 2) having an unapologetic R rating. Dinosaurs eat people left and right in Jurassic World, but like previous editions it’s relatively bloodless making it good old-fashioned family fun. There’s almost no blood when a pregnant woman gets run over here and her stomach cut open to get the deformed child from her barely breathing body, but clearly that’s clearly too much for anyone under the age of 17 unaccompanied by a parent.

NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE END
Speaking of underperforming, The Avengers: Age of Ultron—down to number ten this wee—has been getting similarly flack for not doing as well as the first. Well, duh. That’s the first rule of sequels: they usually cost more and make less. You’d think knowing this they’d try to cut back a little, but no, like all sequels this is bigger and more elaborate than the first. But now there’s the added element of building an entire universe, so this is packed to the gills because god forbid you just tell this story now and not set up the next four or five movies. That’s my only real complaint, but it’s been my complaint for almost every movie after Iron Man. Only Captain America II, Iron Man III and Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to be interested in telling their stories first and foremost. Well, not my only complaint. That goddamn love story between The Hulk and The Black Widow remains a stinker and I think that should shoulder the blame.

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