How to Write a Summer Movie Preview Without Even Trying [California Seething]
Look, if you’re a fairly intelligent person, it’s not that impressive to be an A student. I mean, big deal, all you’ve got to do is study all the time and work really, really hard. Easy.
I’ve never been all that impressed by A students. In fact, there’s a name for those poor saps who studied all the time in college while I was out having the time of my life. It starts with SUC and I bet you can guess what the rest is. That’s right – SUCcessful doctors and lawyers. CRAP! I ruined my life.
Alright, so, aside from the substantially improved likelihood of wealth, success, prestige, respectability and the sort of job where, when you wear a suit everyone doesn’t just automatically assume you’re interviewing for another job or fighting a DUI conviction, working hard all the time to be an A student is just not that impressive.
It’s way more impressive be a B+ student and do absolutely no work at all – like me! I mean, sure, I could have stayed up all night for three days in a row writing an exhaustively researched 30 page term paper on Media Strategies in the 1988 Presidential Election filled with well thought out opinions substantiated by hard facts and data.
If I was LAME.
No, I chose to take the “road more awesome” (to quote Robert Frost) and throw down ten pages of triple spaced 13 point Arial yumminess chock full of wild speculation about Kitty Dukakis’ hairspray addiction based on an article in Newsweek, a couple of book jackets and half a Larry King Live with Olympia Dukakis (I fell asleep). BOOM. Plug in the Nintendo, fire up the bong and drop the mic. Peace Out.
I mean, there’s an important life lesson here. It’s not What You Know or Who You Know that counts in life, it’s How Well You Can Bullshit and How Little Effort You Can Get Away With Putting In that matters and the sooner you learn that, the more frustration you’ll save yourself in the working world when you work your ass off in anonymity and still get laid off while some lazy idiot rich kid with cooler hair and a higher Klout score than you could ever dream of gets promoted to VP of Marketing cause he can use the word “viral” in a sentence correctly when not referring to the spread of disease.
The key to successful bullshit is confidence. Remember, what you lack in “information” you can make up for with “volume”. Just use the Fox News Ignorance to Assertiveness Ratio to figure out how loud you need to be (there’s an app on their website).
Plus, by not living up to my potential, I cultivated this great aura of mystery. Everybody always wondered just what I could accomplish if I ever truly applied myself but, HA! The joke’s on them, cause I never truly applied myself and I accomplished nothing!
So…ha ha? CRAP! I wasted my life.
And, not for nothing, but it was a lot harder for me to squander my academic potential than it is for kids today. We live in a golden age for lazy students. Just think about how much incorrect information they have at their fingertips. Why come up with your own poorly researched wild speculation when you can just steal someone else’s? It’s my 19-year-old self’s dream come true! Hell, I could write a whole term paper just from Facebook memes.
As Martin Luther King said: “Have you noticed that you can put any random series of words next to my face in a jpg and post it on Facebook and everyone will think it’s like a real quote and they should take it seriously? Just try it! Put “purple grapefruit frog tomato” next to that black and white picture of me looking all visionary and shit and everyone’ll start sharing it cause they’re fucking morons. Isn’t the future great? I mean, I guess it’s kind of a bummer how much racism there still is #youwinsomeyoulosesome.”
And speaking of racism, if you want to write a paper about the 1988 election, just search YouTube for “Willy Horton Ad” and that’s all you’ll need to know. BOOM. Boot up the Xbox, turn on the vaporizer and drop the iPhone with…uhm…Voice Recorder app #peaceout #thiswasanembarassingefforttopandertoyoungpeoplewasntit #imanoldoldoldoldoldoldman #getoffmylawn #whenisfiereceandnerdyfinallygoingtoofferhashtagsupport #hashtag.
All of which is to say that, while I wanted to write a Summer Movie Preview, I sure as hell wasn’t gonna go see a bunch of “Summer Movies” to do it. Fuck that.
The reality is that I don’t need to. Let’s keep it real – why do I have to waste two hours watching a movie when I can tell you everything you need to know after a 3 minute trailer? Namely that it sucks.
So, alright, here’s my half-assed, ill-informed, mostly bullshit Summer Movie Preview. I defy you to actually go watch these pieces of shit and tell me I got it wrong.
I’ve broken it into three handy sections: Movies I’d Rather Eat My Own Asshole Than See, Movies I Would Actually Consider Seeing if I Wasn’t So Damn Comfortable On My Couch and That One Summer Movie I Dragged My Ass Out to See.
Handy Section #1: Movies I’d Rather Eat My Own Asshole Than See:
And, you know, there’s nothing really wrong with nepotism per se. When I was 14 or so, my dad ran a video duplication company which, btw, refused to handle any porn for ethical reasons. The “no porn” part isn’t strictly relevant to this story, but it does explain why my Father’s Day card said: “Thank you, Dad for teaching me all about values but if you were a scumbag, we’d have been a lot richer” – from Hallmark’s new “I’m Just Sayin’” collection.
Anyhow, during school breaks he would get me a job labeling videotapes, pulling out the little plastic tabs so tapes couldn’t be recorded over and then covering over the space where the little tabs used to be so tapes could be reused. So, you see, I too, was the beneficiary of nepotism. Unbelievably shitty nepotism, but nepotism nonetheless.
I like to think that if my dad was Will Smith and not Alan Sims, I too would have spent my summer starring in terrible science fiction action movies instead of labeling 5 billion recruitment videos for Indiana University to be sent to prospective students who hopefully were not basing their higher education decision on the quality of the labeling job cause I put the same amount of effort into that crappy job as I did into my schoolwork and Jaden puts into his acting.
Sorry about that Indiana University.
No, the real problem with this movie is that Will Smith has forgotten why we like him in the first place, namely because he’s funny. It’s a condition known as Sad Clown Syndrome (SCS) in which a mid-career comic actor suffers from a delusion that we’re still gonna like him if he stops being funny (also sometimes referred to as Jim Carey Syndrome. Scientists have developed a vaccine but Jenny McCarthy won’t let them use it because she suffers from Big Fucking Moron Who Thinks Vaccines Cause Autism Wow What a Big Fucking Moron Syndrome).
And, listen Big Willy, I know what you’re going through. I know what it’s like when everybody just wants you to be funny all the time and nobody sees the serious artist within and all you have to console yourself are your millions and millions of dollars and millions and millions of adoring fans. I get it!
Why, this blog is read by simply dozens of people – one of whom might even offer to buy me lunch one day (HINT). But you can’t give into temptation. You can’t take those gravitas lessons with Christian Bale’s voice teacher and spout idiotic aphorisms about fear being a choice. Because fear is not a choice, it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism, but spending $12 to see this enormous hunk of crap? THAT is a choice, and a choice that nobody in their right mind should make.
Plus, Willy, you’re not doing Jaden any favors by launching his career this way. Why not put him in one of your already beloved franchises? He could be Junior Agent J.J., or Hancock’s Illegitimate Son or I Am Lil’ Legend or, even better – what about DJ Jazzy Jaden and the Fresh Prince? Eh? Eh? It’s perfect!
“OK, here’s the situation / my daddy put me in a movie about humanity’s obliteration / and I spent two hours fighting baboons with swords / is it good? God,no, of course not.”
Now that’s some nepotism I can get behind!
To hear me babble some more about After Earth, check out theFierce and Nerdy podcast- Episode 2.#shamelessplug #whatdothesehashtagthingsdo anyways #hashtag
The Purge: In an earlier post I explained why there’s no “Ask Mr. Theatre” advice column. The Purge explains why there’s no “Ask Mr. Movie-Logic” either:
Dear Mr. Movie-Logic,
I’m the President of a country that used to be known as the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth. Recently though, things have been tough. The economy is stagnant, unemployment is high, the gulf between rich and poor is growing larger and larger, infrastructure is crumbling, shooting rampages are a regular occurrence, futile wars have bankrupted us, the Federal deficit is mounting out of control, climate change is wreaking havoc, natural resources are running out rapidly, our educational system is mediocre at best, partisanship has paralyzed the legislature and my administration is mired in meaningless scandals. What should I do???
-Pity the Poor POTUS
Dear Pity the Poor POTUS,
Honestly, I’m a little disappointed in you. The solution to all of your problems is right in front of your face. All you have to do is suspend all emergency services for one night a year and let people go completely nuts and commit whatever crime they want up to and including murder. It’s so easy! Unemployment will drop to less than .5 percent, crime will virtually vanish and the nation will be reborn in glory. Problem solved!
Uhm, yeah, ok – I see what you’re saying – but, just so I understand, how is one night of uncontrolled crime going to create jobs or improve the economy or address global climate change or the root causes of crime or economic inequality or gun violence or the sad decline of our educational system?
Did I mention Ethan Hawke was on board?
Yeah, OK – but…
ETHAN. HAWKE. BOOM.
OK, well, I’ve got to fly to three massacre sites before meeting the winners of the World Series of Toe Wrestling back at the White House and flying out to survey tornado damage in one of those states that wants me dead. Oklahoma? Is that a thing?
Yeah, yeah, I heard ya. No need to drone on and on. Get it, drone- ha! I kill me.
So, needless to say, I’m not gonna see this one either.
After all, for every phase of my adult life, there has been an Ethan Hawke / Julie Delpy Before Somethin’ movie for me to avoid like the plague. They are like old, dear friends that I’ve known for so long I forget how totally insufferable they are until she posts something about how we should dance like nobody’s watching and he posts that idiotic quote from the Dalai Lama about how silly Western Man is for working all the time like, oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know we had a fucking choice, asshole and I just want to flush their heads down the toilet all over again, but instead I wish him a “Happy Birthday!!!” and go to Fierce and Nerdy to click on my own post again.
I feel the same way about the Before Somethin’ movies that I did about Sex in the City when I was living in New York. I mean, if there are so many superficial, fashion obsessed, painfully self-involved white women around that I can twirl a dead chihuahua in a Kate Spade bag over my head and knock thirty of them out of their Jimmy Choos and onto their bony asses – why would I want to spend money to get HBO every month so I can spend another hour in their unbearable presence?
Similarly, why would I shell out $12 (plus the cost of nachos. Love that movie theatre cheez!) to listen to a couple of over-privileged, over-educated, navel gazing lanky cracker-ass-crackers jabber and whine at each other when I can just call up old high school friends and listen for free! (NOTE: If you’re reading this, I don’t mean you. Love me!)
I mean, sure, it could be worse – I could spend $50 on theatre tickets to listen to white people jabber and whine (though I hear Ed Begley is brilliant in David Mamet’s Jabber and Whine at the Taper this fall) and I won’t even be able to eat nachos while I do it. But still, I’d rather just sit at home watching basketball and making my own goddamn nachos and checking Facebook when I’m feeling nostalgic for navel gazing self-involved crackers (not you guys, though!). I’d rather hate like nobody’s watching thank you very much.
The Lone Ranger: For those of us that have followed his career for a while, it has been exhilarating to watch Johnny Depp evolve from teen heartthrob to brilliant character actor to cheek spreading Disney whore. That’s why this latest foray into unvarnished racist caricature is so exciting.
Finally, he can put his prodigious skills to good use making a mockery out of other ethnicities! Just think of how pissed off Native Americans would be if they hadn’t all been decimated by smallpox and booze (HINT FOR ETHNICALLY INSENSITIVE FILM PRODUCERS: If you’re going to mock an ethnicity, pick one that’s already too beaten up to fight back. I can’t wait for Johnny Depp’s next movies You Know The Cambodians are All Doofuses, Right? and Fuck the Kurds).
With his heroic portrayal of Tonto, Depp has opened the door for white actors the world over to shamelessly steal roles from deserving minorities. Jeff Bridges as Charlie Chan, Ryan Reynolds as Speedy Gonzales, Leonardo DiCaprio as Mammy in Baz Luhrman’s spectacular 3D remake of Gone With The Wind which is just going to be one incredibly long over-the-top party scene with an inexplicable dance number to a Dixieland version of Sweet Home Alabama.
The sky is the limit (for white people)!
Entertaining racist caricature aside, though, I’m still gonna skip this one cause it looks like garbage.
A whole bunch of other hunks of shit: Look, there’s a lot of terrible summer movies coming out and I’m not gonna write about all of them – so, just figure, unless I say it’s good – it’s on the list of Movies I’d Rather Eat My Own Asshole Than See.
Especially if it’s White House Down. Seriously, can we just put a moratorium on villains who say “showtime” before they do all their evil stuff? And I thought we decided it was in bad taste to blow up the White House after 9/11 – or is it, that if we STOP blowing up the White House in movies than the terrorists have already won? Hey NSA, if you’re reading this on PRISM, can you please clear that up?
Handy Section #2: Movies I Would Actually Consider Seeing if I Wasn’t So Damn Comfortable On My Couch
Much Ado About Nothing: OK, look, there’s really only one movie in this section and it’s Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. For those of you that may not know cause you’re dumb, Much Ado About Nothing is a Shakespearean comedy. This doesn’t actually mean it’s funny, it just means that every single person isn’t dead at the end.
You see, the plays of Shakespeare are like the Jewish holidays. There’s happy ones, where everybody is threatened with death and lives, and sad ones where everybody is threatened with death and dies. I defy you to name a Shakespearean comedy which doesn’t include the risk of execution, expulsion, imprisonment, vengeance or free liposuction (who couldn’t stand to lose a pound of flesh? Shylock’s the first Jewish plastic surgeon. Plus, he’s single) or a Jewish holiday which is entirely upbeat.
And I’m not counting Money Lender Appreciation Day. Sure, they tried that for a few years in the 1500’s but it always ended in a simply terrible pogrom, so they cancelled it abruptly. Of course, this meant they had to burn thousands of unused greeting cards – like the popular “Thanks Money Lenders! We couldn’t spell Usury without U” and in order to get the fire going, they naturally had to use Jews for kindling.
As a result, this is now one of the saddest Jewish holidays and it’s observed by fasting and praying and checking the value of our homes on Zillow to see how underwater we still are on our mortgages. And that, children, is the real story of Yom Kippur. (it’s not).
If you’re not familiar with Much Ado you should really check it out. I mean, it’s got a plot right out of a Three’s Company episode – but with MOONLIGHTING quality banter (to put it in context with other classics). And as is always the case with Shakespeare’s comedies, it ends with a marriage. Several marriages in fact, the more the merrier!
You don’t have to be in love to get married at the end of a Shakespearean comedy. Hell, you can end up getting married just by being two servants of opposite genders who happen to show up to deliver a letter and maybe sneak some free shrimp during the big Act 5 – “It was all just a wacky misunderstanding. Mr. Roper thought he saw Hero kissing another man in the window but it was really just Jack and Chrissie hanging a shower curtain and now Hero has to fake her own death to teach Claudio a lesson. DON’T ASK ANY QUESTIONS. JUST FUCKING GET MARRIED ALREADY” scene.
Of course, not everyone joins in the Act Five merriment. Just about every comedy has one character who stands in the way of love and is left out at the end (Don John in Much Ado, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, a bunch more characters I’m sure I could come up with if I wasn’t too lazy to keep checking Wikipedia).
It’s a character that serious Shakespearean scholars call the Gloomy Gus or Captain Cockblock – and typically, if he’s in Act Five, he storms off angrily screaming “I’ll be revenged on the whole pack of you” or some other such threat that suggests that there was supposed to be a sequel only Shakespeare never got around to actually writing it – like 2 Much 2 Do or Thirteenth Night: Malvolio Takes Manhattan.
All of which is to say that, yeah, Shakespeare is awesome – and his comedies- Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Two Gentlemen from Verona Jabber and Whine can be a huge amount of fun.
The problem, though, as any serious theatre artist and their “supportive” yet beleaguered friends will attest, is that it’s a lot more fun to be in a Shakespearean comedy than to sit through a Shakespearean comedy. Seriously dude, it’s not even close.
Since this particular version of Much Ado was filmed during a 10 day house party at Joss Whedon’s place with all of his super-awesome actor friends, I fear that’s going to be the case here as well.
BTW – if you are unfortunate enough to be friends with a serious theatre artist or, God help you, dating one – you should know the only excuse that is acceptable for missing a show is that you are working on a different show yourself – as you can see from the following two scenarios:
Serious Theatre Artist: Hey man, I’m doing Jabber and Whine with the Bakersfield Community Players this Tuesday at 5 PM. Come check it out – it’s Pay What You Can.
“Supportive” Yet Beleaguered Friend: Oh, man, I’d love to but I’m going to be witnessing the birth of my first child.
Serious Theatre Artist: Oh, OK, that’s cool I guess (rolls eyes). But if you get done early, you should come check it out. It’s Pay What You Can!
“Supportive” Yet Beleaguered Friend: Uhm, yeah, OK, sure I’ll try. (He won’t. There’s a reason why “I’ll try” rhymes with “Big fat lie”)
Serious Theatre Artist: Hey man, I’m doing Two Gentlemen of Verona Jabber and Whine with the Rogue and Peasant Slave Ensemble at the Shitbox Studios in Hollywood – you know, right at the corner of Sunset and No Fucking Parking Anywhere in Sight, next Sunday at 1:30 AM. Come check it out – it’s Pay What You Can!
“Supportive” Yet Beleaguered Friend: Oh, man, I’d love to but I’ve got rehearsal.
Serious Theatre Artist: Cool, man (no eye roll) – what are you working on?
See – no guilt, no lies, no problem. Clearly, the only way to avoid seeing theatre is to make theatre. Trust me – I’ve built my whole life around it. I hate most theatre and I became an underpaid theatre administrator so that I’d never have to see anything I didn’t want to again. Look at how well that’s worked out for me- eh? Eh????
CRAP! I’ve ruined my life.
So, sure, Much Ado About Nothing. That sounds like a good movie. Maybe I’ll go see it if I can. I’ll try.
OK – so now we get to Handy Section #3: That One Summer Movie I Dragged My Ass Out To See
Except – surprise – I’m gonna make this a cliffhanger ending and save the big reveal for my next post. Ta-da! Isn’t that exciting? What will it be? What will I say about it? Why should you give a crap (no, seriously, why should you)? Check back in two weeks to find out.
Meanwhile, I’ll give you a hint, got two big bald action stars, cool cars and explosions and starts with F.
That’s right, Frances Ha, you guessed it!