(This is a just-for-you preview of Sunday’s PopRox column in the Pocono Record. Unless you love Twilight. Then it’s probably not for you.)
It’s not like I’m averse to vampires.
I’m still a huge fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series, enough so that I have bought multiple comic books. I’m the only person over 25 that watches The Vampire Diaries. And Dracula Dead and Loving It is probably one of Mel Brooks’ most underrated movies.
And yet, Twilight escapes me. Completely. I’ve only seen about a half-hour of the movies, the last half-hour of movie #4, and that was plenty for me. So you might not want to print this out for some light reading before the midnight show tonight:
The target demographic
In December 1997, I went to see Titanic. At the time, I was 22 years old and had grown up knowing Leonardo DiCaprio only as Luke Brower on Growing Pains. A buddy of mine warned me that when he went to see Romeo + Juliet a year earlier, every 16-year-old girl in the place audibly swooned each time he came on the screen, ruining the experience for him. Whatever experience a 21-year-old man going to see Romeo + Juliet by himself on a Saturday afternoon could have, that is. Anyway, I figured the Titanic audience would be older and more sophisticated, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that. I was dead wrong. We’re talking about 40- or 50-year-old women who would either uncontrollably sigh with pleasure or playfully giggle whenever Leo came on screen, and they were all around me. For a three-hour movie! Luckily, basic cable has obliged by showing Titanic about 762,941 times a year for the last decade, so I can re-watch it and see the technical genius of the movie without suffering through a mother of three teenagers blushing over a 23-year-old. From what I understand, this is kind of what happens whenever Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner come on screen in the Twilight movies. Pass.
The heavily manufactured hype
When it was merely a series of somewhat popular books that signed a standard contract to be made into movies, it was pretty easy to avoid Twilight. That was the way most of us liked it, but then a weird thing happened. Someone at Entertainment Weekly magazine got a hard-on for the books and, I swear, must have bet a friend 100 large that it would be the next big pop culture thing. Suddenly, the magazine became Twilight Central. Twilight stars made the cover of the magazine four times in a six-month span in 2008 before the first movie, then five times in 2009 leading up to the second one. And from about August 2008 to now, you would have been hard-pressed to find an issue that didn’t mention Twilight or its stars in some way, shape or form. It was insufferable. I wrote the magazine (twice) pledging my long-time allegiance and asking if they believed every reader was a high school senior. No response, so I canceled my subscription and haven’t looked back. I blame the magazine for making this thing what it is now: a thoroughly unavoidable and utterly annoying cultural phenomenon. Hope you’re happy, EW.
I’ve been wrong about movies before. Pretty often, in fact. So I rarely close my mind to any non-Pauly Shore flicks. But when my preconceived perception matches up with what movie reviewers are saying pre-release, then I can pretty much see how things will transpire. The first four movies have averaged just under a 38 percent rating on the movie review site rottentomatoes.com, meaning that only 38 percent of all reviews have been favorable (a word that is often taken very loosely on the site). While that changes this time around — it was at a very good 68 percent Thursday, better than 2012’s thought-to-be-critical darlings Trouble with the Curve, Cloud Atlas and the Woody Allen movie To Rome with Love — it’s kind of late for that, wouldn’t you think? And the favorable reviews features phrases like, “best of a bad bunch,” “dialogue remains spotty and sappy” and “Bella’s still a bit of a blank.” Woo hoo! Where do I get in line for tickets?