Let’s All Assess the Future Prospects of Will Smith

Post Memorial Day, get-back-to-work links. So if they’re a little off … whatever.

who would thunk it might fail? oh, wait, that's right, i did.

Let’s all bury the potential profitability of the summer movie season because two troubled productions — Battleship and MIB3 — performed poorly over the last two weeks. Oh, really? A movie that was undergoing constant script revisions, took a planned or unplanned month-long hiatus and was rushed into production only because Will Smith was generous enough to take part in the sequel to a movie from 10 years ago … that movie had problems? Meanwhile, the summer’s three heaviest hitters — Spider-Man, Batman and Pixar — are coming up in a month or so. Hollywood is just fine, guys. And MIB3 making $70 million over the weekend is just fine too.

if we're hitting up everything else, why not a fresh prince movie? as long as we get to see the carlton dance one more time, i'll sign off on it.

Instead of using this as a platform to be pessimistic about an entire industry that always outsmarts you in the long run, perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the future career prospects of one of Hollywood’s surest things. Will Smith spent the late 20th century and the 2000s as the closest thing to a box office sure thing there was. He had some pretty crap movies (ah hem, Wild Wild West) that managed to make money merely on his presence. We saw the first chink in his armor in 2008 with the box office and critical dud Seven Pounds. Even then, if anyone else was on the top line of that movie — Matt Damon, for instance — it makes $20 million. With Smith frontlining it, it made $70 million on a budget of $55 million. It was enough to send Smith into hiding for more than three years. In the process, it led to all kinds of rumors of sequels to Smith’s biggest hits like Independence Day, Bad Boys, I Am Legend, I, Robot, Hancock … and MIB3. It was obvious Smith was being pushed in a direction to remake his image, getting back to recognizable action titles and hit up those characters before he looked like Harrison Ford playing Indy at 65. MIB3 became the winner, getting Smith to sign before any of the other franchises could. And even though it made $70 million this holiday weekend, that’s under expectations. Now it’s up to Hollywood where to go with this. Keep believing in Smith, or spit him out and let him make the thoughtful, good movies he’s proved he’s pretty good at making when he actually wants to (Six Degrees of Separation, Pursuit of Happyness, Ali).

The news wasn’t all bad this weekend, since Moonrise Kingdom set a record for highest-per-theater average ever. Wes Anderson has a following, and that following is loyal. I’m one of them, and I’ll be doing everything I can to see that movie the second it comes anywhere near me. And the Cannes threw out its Palme D’Or to a second-time winner, so that’s fun too. See, it’s not all bad.

blech.

I’ve decided I’m no longer going to tell people to watch Mad Men. After Sunday’s top 5 episode — and maybe top 3 — I’ve decided that anyone who wasn’t watching by now, TFB. The bandwagon is full and is bursting at the seams anyway. We’re a group now, and frankly, you’re not welcome anymore. I want Mad Men to myself, or at least to the relatively small group of people that are watching now. I live in awe of how good the show is, I think I’m getting ready to name it the best TV show of my life, finally beating out Homicide. And yeah, I didn’t watch The Wire or Sopranos, but I don’t care. Mad Men is better than all of them. (I’ll say SPOILER ALERT now, but if you didn’t watch it live or catch up by now, then you probably deserve to have this spoiled.) Seeing the focus of power shift to the women of the show — all of whom made the big, strong, powerful men grovel and fumble over themselves — was delicious fun. Until it turned poor Don into a blubbering idiot, the only man of the show who was done over by all three of the women featured in Sunday’s episode. then it was just sad, awkward, depressing and just plain weird — in a good way. We’re not used to Don getting outplayed by anyone. But for his wife to plan to run off to Boston without him, his trusted platonic sex kitten Joanie to not tell him what really happened with that prick of a car dealer guy and to then get the killshot dagger from his right-hand woman Peggy when she decided to leave the nest without even telling Don … we’re just not used to it. We’re not used to seeing a wave of uncontrolled emotion wash over him. We saw it when Betty finally confronted him about his 50s style identity theft, and that’s pretty much it. So when Peggy nailed him with the news that she was leaving, and he did everything but latch onto her leg and begged her not to leave like a 5-year-old who doesn’t want his parents to go on vacation, it’s not a side of Don we’re used to seeing. And it’s disconcerting, especially after his employee pep talk the week before. And it’s also amazing TV.

all three are tight buttholes.

One show I will keep harping on for people to watch — Workaholics, which starts its third season at 10:30 tonight on Comedy Central. Every time I try to rank where I consider Workaholics on the current slate of TV comedies, I realize it was a heck of a lot easier to judge sitcoms against each other 20 or 25 years ago. They all looked the same, they all sounded the same, they were all made the same. The only differences that made a sitcom better than the other — the quality of the jokes and the quality of the people delivering them. From 1985-1992, Cheers was the funniest show on TV because it had the best writers and the best ensemble comedy team in front of the camera. That’s it. Now there are different formats of sitcoms — multi-camera (like 2.5 Men) and single-camera (like The Office). You can curse if you go on cable, just like Kenny Effing Powers. Then there is something like Workaholics, which isn’t like anything else on TV. Single-camera, no laugh-track, basic cable standards, three unknown comedians — it’s completely different from anything else on TV. Nothing has ever sounded or looked like it before. There are times when I think it’s the funniest show on TV, but how do you possibly judge something like Workaholics against Modern Family? Or Parks and Recreation? Or Big Bang Theory? They’re all totally different shows. That’s why the only thing I rely on is LPE — Laughs Per Episode. My Workaholics LPE is probably around 15 or so, which is unheard of. I’d say Parks and Rec is second around a consistent 12, Community is sporadically 20 some weeks and 2 another week, Modern Family is down to about an 8 this season. Two and a Half Men is something like minus-3, which gets into negative numbers because I laugh more at the commercials than the show. Workaholics is not for everybody, not even close. But it’s worth a try for everybody. If you don’t find it funny, stop watching immediately. Don’t give it another shot because you might have been in a bad mood or something, just stop watching. If you didn’t like it the first time, you won’t ever like it.

It’s pretty rare that I’ll post a TV spot for a movie, but I noticed two things in the newest Dark Knight Rises teaser. 1. That Lucius is, in fact, in the movie. You wouldn’t know it from the trailers so far, which probably was the point since he didn’t end Dark Knight on the best terms. So that’s probably going to take a minute or two of screen time to figure out how he got back in the picture after pretty much telling Bruce he’s a big, fat jerk and quitting the company. 2. I’m sure there are Batman freaks that have picked up on this in previous split-second trailer shots or hidden camera set shots, but this is the first time I noticed Bruce Wayne walking with a cane. That lends some good credence to the team sticking pretty close to the comic book storyline where Bane is the villiain that paralyzed Bruce Wayne. That’s encouraging, though we wouldn’t expect anything different from Christopher Nolan. Unless there is a fourth that gets hastily thrown together.

I freaking love the “talking points” for the members of the Community cast, they’re awesome. PR people crack me up and scare me at the same time. Crack me up that they think anyone would believe Joel McHale that he’s fine with showrunner Dan Harmon leaving. Scare me because people actually do. Whoever leaked this is the most awesomest person in the world.

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