The Christmas Movie Season: I Didn't Leave Hollywood, Hollywood Left Me

Hollywood, hear our plea: Could you make some mainstream movies that don’t suck? There’s nothing worse than a Christmas season where going to the movies seems about as appealing as sharing a straw with Lindsay Lohan.

Throw us a bone – how about more than just one or two flicks a year not targeted to the demographic that thinks Lady Gaga is a boundary-pushing icon of limitless creative vision? Maybe a couple that are not focused on shiny supernatural creatures who chat about their feelings and stare longingly into the eyes of dead-eyed starlets acting as the surrogate for the millions of lonely shut-ins who adore them? Just a few films not aimed squarely at creepy man-children dwelling in their moms’ Kleenex-strewn basements wishing they too could winch their bloated tushes into tights and fight crime just like their cinematic heroes.

How about more than just a handful of movies for men and women who need more than five hands to count out their age, who breathe through their noses, who have lives? I have some dough – well, at least until the President and his fellow travelers declare me rich too – and I’d like to take my hot wife out once in a while to see a movie. I used to go a lot, a few times a month. But it seemed that five years ago there were always at least a few movies that piqued my interest. Perhaps it’s me – perhaps I’m too demanding, what with my stubborn insistence on interesting stories told in a coherent manner by competent actors. Or perhaps it’s just that the recent crop of movies is exceptionally crappy.

Let’s address the curmudgeon question here and now – yes, I have occasionally turned my hose on those damn kids when they messed up my lawn, but hobbies aside, the fact is that Hollywood is both leaving money on the table and sacrificing what little artistic credibility it has left by ignoring the normal adult demographic. It appears that Hollywood has simply thrown in the towel and decided to focus on feeding formulaic moron fodder to a waiting cohort of slack-jawed ninnies eager for the next story about a magical robot or a superhero with issues.

Let’s take a look at what’s in the theaters this Christmas to test this theory. How about How Do You Know, with Reese Witherspoon. It’s supposed to be a smart, mature romantic comedy. Now take a look at the trailer:

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Oh my – yet another romantic comedy that appears to be neither romantic nor a comedy. Tired, telegraphed jokes and Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd playing the same guys they play in every movie. Plus Jack Nicholson in the same growly old guy mode he’s been in (except for the otherwise annoying The Departed) for the last couple decades. Look, unless Jack is ripping the cover off a water department/incest conspiracy, I’m not interested.

The latest Harry Potter movie is still out. But I’m a bit old for movies about teenage wizards, and I suspect a substantial number of the adult males watching it are going less to experience story than to see the now adult Emma Watson play with her wand.

The latest Narnia movie is out too, and I understand it’s C.S. Lewis and it has an important message and so on, but there’s a problem: I’m not 12. My kids will probably love it – when it comes out on DVD.

The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angela Jolie is out. But it’s rated PG-13, which kind of eliminates the whole point of having Angela Jolie in it.

There’s a sequel to 1982’s Tron coming out as well. Finally. I guess the 28 years of non-stop clamoring for more adventures of some guys who go into an Atari game and do stuff have finally paid off. I suppose I’d be more interested in Tron: Legacy if I hadn’t discovered girls in the meantime.

Soul-crushingly, we have De Niro cashing yet another paycheck in Little Fockers, the third or fourth sequel to a mildly amusing movie I’ve pretty much forgotten by now. Watch the trailer and die a little inside:

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It’s like they invented a whole series of new clichés just for this movie. And Ben Stiller’s recycled antics are annoying enough, but Barbra Streisand too? I wouldn’t force Julian Assange to watch this nightmare…okay, maybe I would. As for De Niro, just keep saying to yourself, “He’ll always be Neal, he’ll always be Neal.”

Jack Black will be waddling back on screen too as America’s favorite funny fattie. This time, he’s in a wacky new version of Gulliver’s Travels.

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Can you spot the fresh, original joke? Trick question – there isn’t one! It’s just more Jack Black yelling, mugging, and running about, which might be hilarious to Miley Cyrus and her pals after a couple rippers off her achy-breaky bong, but for the rest of us, this thing looks like a celluloid kidney stone that you have to pay eleven bucks to pass.

But there is hope. The Coen Brothers have a remake of True Grit coming soon. Let’s leave aside the sacrilege of trying to compete with the Duke – it looks badass:

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A movie about adults, doing adult things, speaking in phrases that aren’t designed so that even the average public school drop-out can understand them – who would have thought it possible? I’m getting disoriented – how can this be?

So, maybe I will visit the multiplex this Christmas season after all. Right after I finish running off those damn kids.


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