Today is the first day of Summer -- and that means the Summer Movie Season ™ is officially here. Cries of "How worse movies are today" ™ will permeate the land for the next several months...but they should be ignored, because such lamentations arise every Summer along with the jonquils, forgetting that the entire point of the Summer Movie Season ™ is specifically to appeal to the widest, youngest and lowest common denominator. Movies aren't worse: you're one year older. (Here's how the equation works -- in 10 years, movies will seem 10 years worse.) Ultimately, it's all the Hollywood equivalent of a slot machine: dump as many of these movies into the Summer opening as possible, and pray that one pours out a goldmine.
Now, to be fair, there is a related problem, and it's that far fewer movies are made each year, so there's less a chance that a good movie that got made once upon a time won't have the same chance to be made today. But the same is true for a bad movie. And with fewer movies, there's more a need to make films for the widest range of audiences that actually go out to theaters. (Alas, it sort of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: when you don't make movies intended for a certain segment of the audience, they stop going, and therefore you stop making movies for that segment of the audience, so they stop going, and so you don't make...well, you get the point.) Ultimately, it’s all the Hollywood equivalent of a slot machine: dump as many of these "tent pole" movies into the mix as possible, and pray that one pours out a goldmine.
Still, with the options to chose from and taste not always being a requirement, it has become a challenge to sift the chaff from the wheat and find the treats that are there. As an public service, therefore, which I originally wrote in the Huffington Post, here are important tips on figuring out what films to be sure to pass by.
1. The movie's ad line includes the words, "wacky."
2. You think its coming attraction is mediocre, and then realize that these are actually what the studio considers the best scenes.
3. The producer, writer, director, editor, cinematographer, music composer, co-producer, associate producer and costume designer all have the same last name.
4. It's billed as "From the makers of..." and you didn't like that movie.
5. After the title are the words, ": The Movie."
6. It has one of those audience-leaving-the-theater television ads, and two people standing together say, in unison, "We loved it!!"
7. A newspaper can't get any of its regular critics to review it, so they assign the person who usually writes about mall openings.
8. The studio refuses to let any critic see it before it opens. They try to keep the cast out, too. And executives.
9. Its rave review quotes come from newspapers in Buffalo, Dayton, Fort Worth, Birmingham or Salt Lake City.
10. Its main…rave…review has a…lot of…dots…in it.
11. It stars anyone you have ever seen competing on either “Skating with Celebrities” or “Celebrity Cooking Showdown.”
12. It has been pulled back from its scheduled release in order to re-shoot "just a few scenes."
13. Its credits list five or more screenwriters.
14. Only one week after the movie opens, it changes its advertising campaign from being an action thriller to "the comedy ride of a lifetime."
15. It is a remake of a terrible movie.
16. It is a remake of a great movie.
17. After the title, it has the number "4" or higher.
18. Its newspaper ad states, "Featuring the hit single..."
19. The plot is so muddled that it takes half of the movie's poster to explain it.
20. It's based on anything by Marcel Proust.
21. The cast features a former sports star in the lead role.
22. Blazoned across its ads, there's a banner which reads, "All New!"
23. It is directed by “Alan Smithee,” the Directors Guild's official pseudonym.
24. During talk show interviews, the movie's star keeps changing the subject whenever the host brings up the film.
25. Though just now being released, it completed production over three years earlier.
26. Reviews mention the music, costume designer and set painter.
27. Audiences stand and boo its coming attraction.
28. Despite glowing reviews, a close friend tells you to not to see it and adds, "I know your taste. Trust me on this. As God is my witness."
29. The only place you see any ads for it is on buses.
30. It calls itself "The Feel-Good Movie of the Year!"
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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