Many of my friends like to brag that they’re lucky to get out to the movies once a year. I, however, have the opposite problem, especially at the begining of the summer when, seduced by big marketing campaigns and tired of running my air conditioner at home, I dash over to the local multiplex to catch the new blockbusters, the better to have bragging rights, should anyone ask. Except for the pain of sitting through half dozen or more previews and countless television trailers (hint: bring a book), it’s a pretty painless experience, especially if you buy tickets in advance and can combine various points from the various cards you carry in your wallet to score free popcorn or a companion ticket. So far, it’s worked out well.
I missed “Sex and the City” so probably can’t claim to be completely on top of the summer season. I found the television series only show fitfully amusing; I’m highly ambivalent about the talent and looks of most of the leads and anyway, only certain fashion icons age well and well, that doesn’t include the “Sex” ladies in my book. So sorry, no review.
However, although not at all a fan of adolescent male comedies, I saw “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” Adam Sandler’s absolutely hysterical and over-the-top poke at mid-East misunderstandings. It may be politically incorrect to admit to finding a politically incorrect movie so funny but I did. You go in knowing there’ll be more than anyone deserves of sex-on-the-brain jokes but come on, the target audience is not me. The fact that I enjoyed it so much, however, suggests that it broke more than a little out of its genre with its mix of message and predictable Adam Sandler schtick.
Actually, a number of the movies seem to be playing with their genres. The new hybrid movie means that you either get a flick filled with mind-bending nuance or you get a high-minded mish-mash. Kudos to the directors for trying, though. Makes me feel as if they have some confidence in my intelligence.
The “Indiana Jones” franchise is one that doesn’t mess one little bit with its niche, except to remind us that 65 is the new 40; at any rate, Harrison Ford looks pretty damned good. But the thing about the latest installment is that it’s like going to see a live concert featuring your favorite band from the 60s, 70s or 80s. You love them whether they’re great, or maybe slightly less great. So yeah, I liked the movie (“Go Harrison! Yea, Karen Allen!”) but he seemed tired and she seemed a little startled to be there, although game. Cate Blanchett had a great time as a dominatrix-type spy but that dialect made me think she was playing a German/Russian raised in Australia by way of Los Angeles. The special effects looked tired as well, like the second installment of the “Mummy” series starring Brendan Fraser (not the good one, by the way). I looked at my watch more than once.
I never looked at my watch once during “Iron Man” but that’s because Robert Downey Jr. is not only fun to watch but fascinating. I like his character, an amoral type seeking redemption as much or more than revenge. That’d be appealing even if you didn’t know Downey’s back story. Not only that, I like the way the gadgets work. The movie is thoroughly up-to-date but old-fashioned too. It’s out of the theaters but if it come around again, see it – or rent it.
“Get Smart” also updated the TV show conceit; I just can’t see Don Adams from the TV series in any enterprise labeled labeled “comedy/action.” The original “Get Smart” was completely over the top but Steve Carell is positioned as a little more suave than all that. Yeah, there were some amusing comedic physical pieces but I got the feeling everyone was trying to look good (and they looked fabulous!) and the leads were holding back. The supporting players got the funniest bits and some of the best lines and helped fill the time during some of the slower scenes.
“Hancock” is two movies in one, I swear. I adored the first one and went along with the second one which potentially sets up a sequel, although you wouldn’t believe it looking at the trailers, which focus on the first half of the movie only. Will Smith can do no wrong – seriously, I’d watch the man do ANYTHING – and the idea that he’s playing an angry dude with super powers who ticks off (and then confronts) the people he’s trying to help is very funny. I was apparenly one of a handfull of people who wasn’t surprised by the mid-movie twist but I think I was sighing with impatience as the plot unfolded at that point. Still, I understand how it allows for a return of the character. NOTE TO THEATER GOERS: Several movies, including “Hancock” are leaving at least one critical scene to show during the credits. I like to read the credits but for those of you who don’t, if you find yourself out the doors of the theater one they start rolling, you’ll miss a pivotal scene. Same with WALL-E.
Ah, WALL-E: See it. Or read the article that Frank Rich wrote in today’s New York Times and see it. Or read any number of other reviews and believe them and see it. I don’t know what to say about those folks at Pixar but whatever they’re smoking, injesting, eating, drinking or dreaming about, I want some. At least I want some if it will make me an eighth as creative as they are.
So Hollywood, if you’re reading this, smile for a minute because at least one reluctant movie-goer has become a regularmovie-goer (at least temporarily). But please, not SO many sequels. You’re killing me!
PS: Stay tuned for “Batman” – I can’t be more impressed by some of these Australian actors who seem to have it all over our homegrown ones and in this one we’re talking about Christian Bale and the late, great (and would’ve and should’ve been greater) Heath Ledger.
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