Monday, July 5, 2010

Do You Hear That Gurgling Sound?

It's the sound of 2010, the first half of the year in movies, being flushed down the proverbial toilet. Talk about your disappointments.

As of July 5th, I've seen exactly 17 movies in the theaters thus far this year. That's roughly on a par with past years, although there have been opportunities this year in which I could have very easily gone to a show; I've simply passed them up. Nothing will ever again approach the halcyon days of 1986, the first year I began keeping track of my movie-going; by early July of that year, I had seen 66 movies. I would end the year with 102. You might ask: How did you find the time? My answer: I was unemployed. The obvious follow-up: Where did you find the money? My answer: I went to a lot of matinees. And ate a lot of Lance Nip-Chee Cracker packs for my meals. (That's a diehard movie fan for ya, folks.)

But I digress. What's up with 2010? To put it bluntly, it sucks. Nothing appeals to me. The reasons I've passed up a lot of films can be boiled down to these: The movies are bad, the movies are unappealing, the movies are getting terrible reviews, the movies have been dumbed down, lousy 3D rendering has gutted several decent ideas, and when an interesting idea does rear its inviting head, I can't get to it. Case in point: there's a new one out there called "Cyrus," a quirky indie comedy with good buzz, but its only available screen in the Baltimore metro area is the Landmark downtown, so I guess I'll wait until it hits On Demand or Netflix.

I've seen exactly two movies so far this year that I've flat-out loved: TOY STORY 3 and KICK-ASS. That's 2 out of 17. Only two movies that I would love to watch again, only two that I ever plan to add to my personal collection. That's a pretty crappy average, folks.

Oh, sure, there have been a few nice time-wasters. I liked HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, although its raunchy humor got a little predictable by the end. I liked IRON MAN 2, as far as sequels go, but it didn't have the same thrill as the original. I even liked GROWN UPS, which I saw last week with my wife and son. As Adam Sandler movies go, it was pretty good. Which is faint praise, I assure you.

But the disappointments have outnumbered the good ones, which is pretty surprising, considering how picky we are these days when it comes to spending our monthly mortgage payments on a night out at the movies. THE WOLFMAN was a major letdown, full of sound and fury and signifying exactly nada. CLASH OF THE TITANS was the first of what has turned out to be a truly distressing trend -- the bandwagon approach of redoing already-filmed prints with 3D effects. Trust me, they didn't help the movie at all. KNIGHT AND DAY (speaking of sound and fury signifying nothing) was a nasty sign that Tom Cruise's days as a blockbuster star may be numbered. And A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET -- well, the less said about that one, the better.

Where does that leave us for the rest of 2010? Well, if you're an Oscars buff, you're probably wondering where in hell they're going to come up with 10 Best Picture nominees. (The only one thus far that merits serious consideration would be TOY STORY 3. ) If you're a Christopher Nolan fan (or just a fan of movies in general), then you've got your fingers crossed for INCEPTION, opening July 16. If you're a Harry Potter fan, then you're waiting for November, when the first part of the Deathly Hallows finale hits screens. If you're worried that the rest of the year is going to follow the first half down the ol' Port-a-John (no relation), then you're probably already closing your eyes at that godawful trailer showing Jack Black's take on Gulliver's Travels.

Me, I'll be in line for INCEPTION. In the meantime, I'm reading a great book. (The Passage, by Justin Cronin) What a novel concept. (No pun intended.)

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