Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Two Thoughtful Assessments of What’s Wrong With Movies

posted by Nell Minow

I very much enjoyed Scott Nye’s article for rogerebert.com about plot holes in movies that are summerily — if not satisfyingly — dealt with via some line of dialogue.

If you watch big budget entertainments, there’s no escaping these sorts of moments. The trope familiar to the Scooby-Doo generation, in which a few nagging uncertainties are resolved with a “there’s just one thing I don’t understand” kickoff, has now become a motif. Characters must constantly address questions on behalf of a too-curious audience awash in complexly-plotted mega-stories. The movies are trying to plug leaks in a boat before the whole thing sinks—never quite repairing it, but doing just enough to get by.

He has some great examples but does not mention my favorite, in “Thank You for Smoking,” written and directed by Jason Reitman, based on the book by Christopher Buckley.  It’s my favorite because it makes fun of this very issue.  Aaron Eckhart, plays Nick, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, who meets with Rob Lowe, as Jeff, a Hollywood executive, to talk about product placement in a new film.  There’s a hitch — it takes place on a spaceship.

Nick Naylor: But wouldn’t they blow up in an all-oxygen environment?

Jeff Megall[long pause] Probably. But, you know, it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue: “Thank God we created the, you know, whatever device.” You ought to make a product to tie in with the movie, such as a new brand of cigarettes.

And Slate, which just blamed the book Save the Cat!, with its formula for movie scripts, for the cookie-cutter nature of studio films, has a new piece about the year’s biggest money-losers, calling this The Summer of the Mega-Flop.

The latest high-profile calamity at the box office is the ill-buzzed R.I.P.D., which followed such heavily marketed titles as Pacific RimThe Lone Ranger, White House Down, andAfter Earth in failing to attract its expected audience. Meanwhile, The Conjuring, a smaller,Exorcist-style chiller from Saw director James Wan, more than doubled its production budget in just one weekend.

Summer 2013 is unquestionably the season of the über-flop. But do these numbers add up to the paradigm shift that Spielberg anticipates? For moviegoers exasperated by CGI whooshing—and 150-minute running times padded with a solid hour of action—a victory for the little guy might seem like good news. Still, the tent-pole collapse isn’t quite as stark as headlines might imply. With a mammoth gross of $407 million, Iron Man 3 has become the year’s top-earning movie, while Fast & Furious 6 continues a long line of success for its franchise. From the theaters’ perspective, this summer has been a bonanza. “We had four straight weeks of more than $300 million in box office, which has never happened,” says Patrick Corcoran, vice president  of the National Association of Theater Owners….?In an interview with New York magazine critic David Edelstein, producer Lynda Obst also pins the current trend toward gigantism on the increased importance of the foreign market, coupled with a collapse in DVD sales, which once provided a safety net for midrange pictures that didn’t pan out….Gomery notes that this summer’s fizzling blockbusters may also be symptomatic of the type of moviegoing dip that typically accompanies recessions; so far, relatively flat domestic attendance has been offset by China’s emergence as the world’s second-largest film market. And the jury may even be out on this summer. In the era of media conglomerate–owned studios, he says, it’s traditionally been the rule has been that it’s “a good year” if one in 10 of your major properties takes off and becomes a hit. If you want to get a sense of how that principle might work, he says, “Just watch a day’s worth of HBO.”

 



Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.