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Everything I Needed To Know I May Have, Possibly, Maybe Learned at The Multiplex This Summer September 22, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

I usually wait to make bold proclamations until I’m sure they are unequivocalably and irrefutably true. I’m the guy who hangs out in the corner during the Super Bowl and doesn’t cheer until his team is sitting on the ball with two minutes left. I am the antithesis of the networks of 2000 who were so quick to declare a winner so they could send us all to bed. In retrospect, they were right, but more than a few people woke up the next morning checking the Classifieds and trying to hastily write resumes. I won’t even so much as commit to attending events and parties until I’m sure that there hasn’t been a major catastrophe (natural disaster, subway breakdown, personal illness, concerns over what hairstyle defines me as a person) and even then I usually announce my attendance by actually showing up.

So this may be a little bit late in saying, but I’m pretty sure I can announce that SUMMER IS OVER. Sure, there are a few kids who yet haven’t bought some rubber cement for maximum booger making in school and I still have to admit to myself that it’s time to pack away my cargo shorts, but with New York’s temperature doing “The Little Engine That Could” and huffing and puffing it’s way above 68 degrees, I think it’s safe to declare it done.

And that means an end to the summer movie season. The big budget explosions and life long dreams we geeks have of just who is meant to play the third rate comic book second banana we all worship are gone. Big cast comedies and rehashed sequels will slink into their garages and try again next summer. And Steven Seagal will wake up, turn off his alarm and go back to sleep. We’re already seeing the first vestiges of the fall season (The Rock as inspiration?!?!…movies about dancing that involve uncoordinated white kids?!?!?…A sequel to The Grudge, because Sarah Michelle Gellar is such a nation wide phenomenon that we must now how things turn out?!?!?!) and we must take this time to reflect.

But in these world changing times of war, economic downturns and Yanni albums, we look to the movies not just for escape, but to serve as a big beacon to lead us through the storm tossed seas of life (Yes, I have an English degree, majoring in obvious metaphor) And this summer has shown us all the state of our fair country and in the words of Timbuk 3, “We’re doing all right…the future’s so bright…yada yada…something about shades.”


The past few summers have tried to prepare us for Armageddon. The weather wins in Day After Tomorrow. The killer survives in Saw. The villains survive in comic book movies. And the zombies may not win, but the heroes are still trapped in a newer, zombie filled America. But this summer we showed we are prepared. Maybe not for weather (Yes, yes, we heard you, Mr. Gore. Here’s some Skittles. Have a seat.), but if and when there’s snakes on a plane, we got this. When evil computer geniuses try to take over the world, we have just the men to stop them (even though it’s a couch jumping Scientologist with a penchant for the word “glib,” we’ll take what we can get). And most of all, when the insects rise up against us, we have children so trained in insect warfare that he will save a colony. Yup, this summer has taught us that we can do it all. Except watch Jack Black as a Mexican wrestler, but seriously, what nation, nay, what society can do that anyway?


I think that Pirates of the Caribbean 2 made roughly a little more than the GNP of almost every European country, save Switzerland (How can you not make money with tiny knives, chocolate, cheese and Swatch watches?). We all saw the movie, a sequel to another movie (based on a Disney ride..meaning Space Mountain: The Return is surely on the horizon) and ticket receipts would mean we probably saw it more than once. And I have a theory as to why.

It’s all about the word “booty.” That word has taken on a meaning that we are powerless to stop. I mean, J. Lo alone has turned the word into a flashbulb. We hear it in any conversation and our ears prick up like deer that notice the cracked twig a hunter steps on in the distance. It is the ultimate in a word that may seem dirty, but really isn’t. Kind of like bitch or ass, which 5th graders are quick to point out when caught using them (“But mom, I was talking about the dog next door” or the Midwest variant “But Mom, I was talking about the put-upon pack animal they use on McGillicuddy’s farm.”) And we all know we are a nation of fifth graders, and if the opportunity arises for us to identify with “booty,” we flock to it like moths to a flame. Pirates are always chasing booty. They crave the booty. They even nonchalantly talk about how they have booty stashed all over the world. Hollywood already has take notice to this: Prepare yourself for “Pussy.” The film about cats trying to make it in the sewers of New York is already green lit. And somewhere, in the dark of a depressed comedy club, George Carlin is already spinning in the grave he isn’t quite in yet.


I was one of the many who finally accepted Will Ferrell’s comedic skills as being relative to a radioactive element. They explode at first, releasing their radiation among all of us. And at first, it’s powerful. We bow to it’s ability and use it to fuel everything we can think of. But it breaks down, losing half of it’s ability with each passage of time, until it is nothing more than a rock, that we can point at and say, “Remember when this could run my car, my turbine or my late night comedy sketch show?” Will Ferrell was U-238 and his final shot was Bewitched. If you watched closely, you could see the comedy flicker away like a broken light bulb that’s trying its’ best to give you a few more second of luminescence while you finish the article by Chuck Klosterman in Rolling Stone.

I thought this was law: after all, how could science prove me wrong? But then he came out with Talladega Nights and I was wrong. Apparently, comedy has no set rules of fading. Instead it has scientific needs: pressure, time and the right circumstances.

Take the aforementioned Jack Black for example. He was still in his heat radiating stage when he made Nacho Libre. You had the rules in place…Over the top actor, director fresh from a cult comedic film that is climbing up the “Most Quoted Films” chart, and Mexican Wrestling, which has more potential for comedy than Steve Irwin (oooooh…too soon?). And yet, the film had less laughs than Beaches which had the double whammy of female bonding and terminable disease. It just goes to show that comedy has no rules whatsoever. Except maybe that we will always laugh at Southern stereotypes (provided they aren’t being portrayed by Johnny Knoxville or a Baldwin brother).


This summer, more than before, gave us things to think about. Sure, The Davinci Code didn’t break the records they predicted (except overseas, where the French were ecstatic that they can finally see Audrey Tautou in a movie where she doesn’t just bite her lower lip and cutely coo at the camera) but we still flocked to a movie based on a book based on a series of puzzles and mysteries.

We even paid money to see a two hour seminar by a guy who couldn’t even win a simple popularity contest (Finished with your Skittles yet, Al?). I mean, An Inconvenient Truth should not have made money. It’s the film equivalent of that class you tried to skip because the teacher scheduled it at 9 am. But yet, we all saw and what’s more, we even inspired the makers to further promote it on MTV. Maybe we are intelligent beings who want to change our planet. Or maybe we just thought the title meant it was a soft core porn thriller starring a WB starlet and some guy from a Boy Band. If so, though, it means we were inferring and drawing on past experiences, which still makes us smart, by the standards of the rats who stop pushing the electric button for their cheese in scientific experiments.


This summer there was no cutting edge reality that made us stay home. For the last four years, there has always been some inane premise that drew us to the TV. Maybe it was strange golddiggers looking for husbands. Maybe it was the promise of people doing stunts that would embarrass their long dead ancestors. But for some reason, we stopped going to movies because we could be wowed, disgusted and validated by simply clicking on our television.

And this summer, the shows were weak. Even Rock Star, which cleaned up last summer, trotted out a superband that did nothing more than make us pine for the days of Damn Yankees. We will all go to films to be entertained in the summer if we can’t get it at home. Why do you think Starbucks, brunch places and those brothels we see on HBO in night vision are so popular?

Sure, this summer may have taught us much more, but we as a movie going public bonded these last few months. Let’s hope next summer’s just as good. Though if the rumored “Survivor: Deserts of Iraq” gets made, we might as well just superglue our asses to the couch now.



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