Cruel Summer

The movie fizzled at the box office, but could blow up at next year's Oscars.

The Hurt Locker fizzled at the box office, but could blow up at next year's Oscars.

Every year Hollywood unleashes a summer full of movies that are BIGGER, LOUDER and DUMBER than the previous year.  The need to constantly up the computer generated special effects and get rid of anything that smacks of wit, intelligence, plot, character development or simple coherence seems to increase tenfold every May through August.    The Summer of 2009 was one long hard slog through a whole lot of nothin.’

My summer movie experience ends and begins with two words: Star Trek.  I saw it.  I liked it.  But I didn’t love it and had no desire to see it again.   I did get a  tee-hee when some fool of a critic called Star Trek, “this summer’s Iron Man.”  Get real.  It wasn’t even  this year’s Tropic ThunderStar Trek was good, but it wasn’t anything I felt I had to see more than once.  While Chris Pine did fine stepping in for William Shatner as James T. Kirk, he’s no Robert Downey Jr.

Then again, if Star Trek is no Iron Man, nothing was this summer’s The Dark Knight Returns. Oh sure, a lot of films made money which goes to show even in a tough economic times people want to escape their problems for two hours in the dark.    There just wasn’t anything I felt I HAD to see.   People whose opinion I respect told me Wolverine was the best thing to come out of the X-Men franchise while others said just as strongly it sucked ass.

Now THIS is how you're supposed to reboot a dead franchise.

The same goes for Terminator Salvation, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Public Enemies as they underperformed at the box office and I never felt like I was missing a thing.  The Proposal and Julie and Julia are chick flicks, which leaves me out.  I don’t do Adam Sandler or Tyler Perry which meant somebody else could have my seat for Funny People and I Can Do Bad All By Myself and minus Downey, I easily could avoid Jack Black in Year One and Ben Stiller in the piece of crap he pooped out .  I did have a little bit of interest in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, but like the bulk of this summer’s fare, I figured I could wait for the DVD.  Listening to Brad Pitt’s weird Southern accent for two hours is going to take some preparation

As for the rest of the summer blockbusters–who cares?  I may eventually get around to seeing Up.   Everything I’ve heard and read about it sounds promising, but I’m not about to insult my intelligence with live action cartoons passing themselves off as real movies like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe or whatever the book the new Harry Potter is adapting.  Haven’t read any of the books  and haven’t seen any of the movies so it’s all the same to me.

I’m not knocking Tranformers and G.I. Joe for being big, stupid movies.  They have no aspirations beyond being loud, flashy and making buckets of money for the studio.   That’s cool too.  I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional “suspend-all-disbelief-and-just-watch-stuff-get-blown-up-read-good” flick so I won’t criticize brainless and empty non-think entertainment for achieving their objective of being brainless, empty and non-thinking.

It does bother me a bit though when the best reviewed movie of the year, The Hurt Locker,  (a staggering 98% certified fresh on Rotten sneaks into town, plays for a week or two in one theatre, then–POOF– disappears like Eddie Murphy’s career.   Maybe it was the title.  What is a “hurt locker” any way?

Summertime is a cruel time for films with serious subject matter.   The setting for The Hurt Locker is the war in Iraq and that’s been a as much a wasteland for Hollywood as it has been for the United States.   Every drama that’s attempted to take on this war has died a quick death at the box office.  Despite the combined talents of  Tom Cruise, Robert Redford,  Tommie Lee Jones,  Reese Witherspoon, Susan Sarandon, Samuel L. Jackson and Charlize Theron, even they couldn’t put fannies in the seats to watch Lions For Lambs, Rendition, Home of the Brave or In the Valley of Elah.


Nope.  No acting talent here either, but my abs look great.

"Nope. No acting talent here either, but my abs look great."


Even more shocking is the realization that Meryl Streep, the Greatest Actress Ever, flopped not just once, (Lions For Lambs) but twice (Rendition).    What’s the world coming to when the Magnificent Meryl can’t win the hearts and minds of critics and audiences when it comes to the war in Iraq?

The Hurt Locker is a critic’s delight, but it’s $12 million take at the box office makes it commerically a  non-entity.   Don’t be surprised though if it earns a Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.   With the category expanded to a silly “Top 10” the odds are good a small picture that is seriously good will be taken seriously next February.  The Hurt Locker is a stone cold, lead pipe lock for a Best Picture nomination.  You read it here first.

The way I figure it I’ll get up to speen on my summer viewing when the leaves start falling.  That’s when viewing Up, Drag Me to Hell, District 9, and Food Inc., will spare me the agony of reality TV and Jay Leno’s monologe five nights a week.

As for all the other flicks I didn’t check out at the multiplex, let ’em gather dust for a while at the few remaining video stores left and I’ll get around to them.   There’s always time to gawk at Megan Fox’s body while  gagging on how awful her movies are.

2 thoughts on “Cruel Summer

  1. The Hurt Locker may have been one of the best films released this year, but if nobody goes to see it and it isn’t available for viewing by the wider populace can you blame people? All summer I turned on my TV and saw ads for Transformers, GI Joe, Harry Potter and Star Trek. I can’t remember seeing or hearing anything about The Hurt Locker (other than your comments). Looking at BoxOfficeMojo it appears that this movie was 85th in terms of box off (right between Jason Statham’s Crank: High Voltage and John Cena’s 12 Rounds). So obviously it wasn’t exactly pushed by ANYONE.

    Every year movies get overlooked. Being the smartest girl in class doesn’t get you voted prom queen. Same thing with movies. Critics can rant about all of the under-appreciated gems that people miss while pieces of crap like Paul Blart: Mall Cop make 10 times the money but they don’t change people’s viewing habits. Most of the time people look for something to entertain themselves, not enlighten them. PBS, Discovery and the Learning Channel have tons of shows that are worthwhile viewing, but generally more people are going to be interested in who’s winning American Idol, Big Brother and Survivor.

    Big, dumb, and funny seems to win most of the time.


  2. There are only four movies I really enjoyed this summer . . . and “STAR TREK” was not one of them. My favorites? “PUBLIC ENEMIES”, “TERMINATOR SALVATION”, “INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS” and “X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE”. I did enjoy or disliked others, but those four are my favorites.


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