With American Pie 2 officially ending the summer season, it?s time to reflect upon another summer that not only was disappointing, but failed to be entertaining as well.
This summer saw six sequels, one remake and films sharing similar themes but producing opposite results. For every Shrek, there was A Knight?s Tale.
More bombs than explosions were produced and I?m probably in the minority by thinking Pearl Harbor wasn?t one of the bombs. But while Pearl Harbor can be criticized for taking liberties with historical characters and failing to balance carnage with humanity, at least it tells a story that is both cohesive and entertaining. Some movies, however, such as A.I., fail to at least provide that. And when Steven Spielberg, the master of the summer blockbuster, doesn?t give audiences something they could appreciate, least of all comprehend, then it?s apparent that something has gone terribly wrong.
Fans of the video game character Lara Croft, as well as fans of Angelina Jolie, are saying the same thing about the debacle that was pointless and plotless, Tomb Raider.
It?s as if studio executives will only green-light projects attached with pop-culture icons, such as video-game heroines and dinosaurs.
This summer we saw the third installment in the Jurassic Park series, and hopefully it will be the last. How such actors as William H. Macy, Sam Neill and the up-and-coming Allesandro Nivola were attracted to this bile is beyond me. Apparently, actors these days are searching for the most challenging roles, and playing the parts of complete idiots is the new trend.
And how does a fascinating Michael Crichton concept about an island filled with lab-conceived dinosaurs get so twisted that there are now three islands?
Other disappointing films include The Score and Moulin Rouge. One would assume anything that combines Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton would be brilliant. However, the plot of three generations of con men teaming up for one last score is so tired, not even Norton?s tweaking of the script could wake it up. Before the movie came out, I said I would watch these three guys read a phone book.
But maybe that?s the problem ? we expect too much from movies nowadays. We read hype about Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo in a new movie-musical set in Paris circa 1899, and we couldn?t wait to see it. But when it was released, some of us found ourselves not crying at the tragic love story, but laughing out loud at the ludicrous decisions that went into making it. Whenever you produce a film with a script that calls for a dozen men dancing around a posh bedroom set singing Madonna?s ?Like A Virgin,? you know you?re asking for trouble.
Hollywood films that fail nowadays are either too lazy (think Scary Movie 2 and Jurassic Park 3) or too ambitious (Moulin Rouge and A.I. are good examples). Hollywood shouldn?t be the place where only the tested formulas survive. Movies such as A.I. should continue to be made ? they should simply be made better.
It seems the movies that succeeded this summer were the films that stayed true to their genre. Swordfish and Legally Blonde were no great pieces of art, but at least they kept their respective audiences entertained by providing the kind of entertainment that was promised. Once you got over the unrealistic aspects of Legally Blonde, it was a fun film to watch. The same is true for Swordfish; an action film is supposed to be just that ? action. John Travolta and Hugh Jackman provided witty dialogue to balance the big guns and car chase scenes that ended with the predictable but entertaining explosion.
Even spoofs, such as Shrek and America?s Sweethearts, were successful in entertaining audiences. And not just because they poked fun at the genres from which they were spawned. A fairy-tale spoof that is actually an animated fairy tale itself that ranks with the best of them is not just a spoof. And a satiric look at Hollywood through the eyes of people who embody everything that is ?Hollywood? is entertaining when it also doubles as a sweet, romantic comedy.
As Sweethearts points out, Hollywood?s biggest problem remains to be the desire to gloss everything over, preventing the reasonable consumer from deciphering the good from the bad. As long as that trend continues, everybody will lose.
William Albritton is a senior majoring in mass communications and is The Oracle movies editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org