These first two weekends of December have been brutal for the box office and boring for the rest of us to follow along. Suffice it to say that ends this week, when the Hobbit (my guess: $70 million this weekend) kicks off 11 days of pure box office bliss. It’s one of the best times of the movie year, combining big-ticket blockbusters, family movies and Oscar contenders. At Christmastime EVERYONE goes to the movies at some point, so studios try to make sure there is something for every taste. Here’s how I’d rank the wide releases between now and Christmas in the order of how I want to see them. Zero Dark Thirty would easily be #2, but it doesn’t open wide until Jan. 11:
1. Django Unchained. Anyone surprised?
2. Jack Reacher. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Tom Cruise action movies. I have absolutely no idea about any of the details of the popular book series though.
3. The Hobbit. I really don’t know why I have little-to-no desire to see this movie. It’s not like I didn’t like the first three. I’m no even sure how interested I’ll be when it comes out on Blu-ray. Apparently my geekery has limits, and the limit is The Hobbit.
4. Les Miserables. Help! My wife has tied me to a chair and hijacked this list and kept me from ranking Les Mis lower! Heeelllpppp!!! Her comment the other day after seeing back-to-back Les Mis and Django commercials: “So I guess you’re going to see Django, and I’m, going to see Les Mis, and that’s how we’re spending Christmas, huh?” Sounds about right to me.
5. This is 40. I won’t let you do this to me, Judd Apatow. I won’t get sucked into this movie despite a constant barrage of commercials and the opportunity to see Megan Fox strip down. When I think I might, I just have to look at one thing: “Running time, 2 hours and 13 minutes.” For Pete’s sake, how does he keep getting away with this?!?!?!
6. The Guilt Trip. I’m a Seth Rogen fan, I think he can make a lot of things funny that inherently aren’t. But let’s not get crazy here, OK?
7. Monsters Inc 3-D. I will be dragged to Monsters University next summer, so I think that’s my Monsters Inc. quota for a 12-month period.
8. Parental Guidance. If I could make this #784, I would. That’s about right, actually, I think I’d rank this 784th out of eight movies. Look, I have two kids, both of them spend a lot of time with their grandparents, so I get why someone would think this situation is hysterical. But now that I’ve been forced to watch the trailer about 94,521 times thanks to fast forward being disabled for OnDemand shows, I can safely say there hasn’t been a movie I’ve wanted to see less this year than this one. I’m openly rooting for it to fail miserably in the hopes that Billy Crystal will be gone from my life forever.
Clerks was OK. Clerks II was OK-er, but only because there was talent and funding behind the whole thing. So what’s Clerks III going to be, OK-est? I never got the whole Clerks phenomenon, really. It was funny enough, but it was executed in such a cardboard fashion that it actually detracted from the script. I’d put Mallrats on that same kind of level, just with a little better execution. When Kevin Smith started working with some actual, seasoned talent in Chasing Amy, and then Dogma, you could see how bad the acting was in his first two movies. It’s not like Smith became that much of a better writer or director — he didn’t, he was always that good — it’s just a matter of having people closer to his level to work with. That said, Clerks II was a letdown of sorts because I was looking for a Kevin Smith movie, and what I got was a Kevin Smith Clerks movie. If that makes any sense. There’s only so many ways you can take a character, or a group of characters, and I think Clerks II was the limit of the Clerks universe. I’m sure he’ll say it’s for the fans and all, which may or may not be true, but if he’s going to do something for the fans, wouldn’t he want to do another Jay and Silent Bob movie? Yeah, I’m biased, but how many of his fans are clamoring for more Dante and Randall? If Kevin Smith’s fans clamor anymore while sipping double pumpkin spiced lattes at whatever Starbucks has taken over their local Quick Stop, that is. I’d say it’s a much bigger group. And Jay and Silent Bob made more money five years earlier. Seems like an easy choice to me.
Hate-watching seems to be the hot new buzz term of the year, but I’m not sure if there is a definition for it yet. Is there? If there is, it’s certainly doesn’t seem to to be agreed upon with one universal definition. Everyone seems to have their own definition, so here’s mine: I would consider hate-watching viewing something multiple times or over multiple episodes that you have no choice but to keep watching.You can’t physically pull yourself away, even though you know you’re deriving no enjoyment from it whatsoever. Where you’ve put in a lot of time and effort into the show, into the characters, and you want to see it through. Hence, I don’t think you can hate-watch a non-sequel movie on your first viewing. No, you can’t hate-watch The Master, sorry. I used to hate-watch Armageddon, wondering why I couldn’t pull myself away of the TV airings despite nearly walking out of the theater. Now I’ve just admitted to myself that I love the stupid movie, and everything is better. And it’s also somewhat hard to hate-watch something in its first season — although I was definitely on that level by the middle of season 1 of The Killing in 2011. So hate-watching The Newsroom is questionable — but possible. Here’s my hate-watch of the year: this final season of Fringe. It’s so unbelievably off whatever rails it had ever been on over the last two years that it’s an incomprehensible M-E-S-S MESS. I don’t understand one word of it. Yet there I am every Friday night, plopped on my couch, watching a season of the show that had no business ever getting on TV. I can only surmise that I still watch because I’ve watched for the first four seasons and very often, have been a huge supporter of the show. I want to see it through, but I have no idea why. The last season of Prison Break was that way. But at least I understood Prison Break. I honestly can’t wait until Fringe is done, then I can finally stop watching, kinda like Pigman in PCU.
It’s going to be interesting to see how many reviewers put Dark Knight Rises on their top 10 list, or how many film organizations decide to shower it with awards. Only one so far — the American Film Institute, which released its best of 2012 list Monday -- has included it, but I’ll bet there will be more. There are a lot of people who felt stupid by not giving Dark Knight any kind of awards recognition (other than Heath Ledger) but I think we can all agree now that it’s one of the 10 or 15 best movies of the last decade. There may be a sentiment that people have to make up for that glaring oversight by giving DKR all kinds of praise — even though it clearly wasn’t as good as Dark Knight. It’s kind of like an honorary award.
On the TV side of the AFI honorees, what the heck is American Horror Story doing on there? I’ve made it clear I don’t like Louie, but I at least see why critics would like. AHS? I have no clue. I’m not hate-watching just yet … but I’m getting there. I can’t see where this season is going, and I’m not sure I’d want to figure it out anyway. Because I’m afraid it would be so silly and stupid that I’d knock Ryan Murphy down a few pegs. There’s too much unnecessary gore, too much dogmatic preaching on both the side of godlessness and god .., umm, fullness, so many ludicrous coincidences (Of course when you escape from the clutches of a psycho killer dressed in medical scrubs, the first driver that finds you in the middle of the road would shoot himself within 30 seconds of meeting you!) that you can’t seriously watch it anymore. You watch for shock value and to see how this whole thing turns out, but you’re no longer turning out for the story. That ship has sailed.
First things effing last! The new Man of Steel trailer is out, and I can’t help but be a little bored. If this version doesn’t work, can we just stop the origin stories? We get it! We know how Clark Kent became Superman! I feel like we’ve been told the story about 50,000 times now, or maybe it’s just continued frustration with the all the reboots and all the new-but-very-similar origin stories. Spider-Man may have been my breaking point. So I can’t thoughtfully judge this new trailer, you can decide for yourself: