Okay, so it’s just a trailer. Okay, so there are millions of Farrelly Brothers fans out there who have been waiting for this sequel like the second coming. Okay, so both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels have seen their career fortunes wane a bit in the 20 years since the first film, so we can excuse their passion/paycheck cashing appearance here. Okay, the scenes are taken out of context and represent a mere sampling of the supposed humor this film has in store for us (2:40 minutes out of 90, one imagines). However, and this is a pretty big caveat, it’s quite possible that the Farrelly Brothers have simply lost their knack. Want proof? Okay…
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By all accounts, the current incarnation of Star Trek is at a crossroads. On the one hand, by rebooting the franchise to feature much younger (and by all accounts, different) versions of our favorite sci-fi heroes, Paramount found a viable way of rescuing a more or less DOA property while keeping the original fans invested. Yes, some purists balked at the revisionism, but considering most film fans today had parents who weren’t even born when the TV series redefined the genre back in 1966 (that’s 48 years, folks), such tinkering could be tolerated. Even when an untried J.J. Abrams was handed the keys to the Starship Enterprise, most appreciated his dedication to the past with obvious bows to filmmaking (and blockbusters) circa 2009.
Thirty-four years ago, on 9 May to be exact, the world of horror changed forever. While movies like John Carpenter’s Halloween and, before that, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left offered up expert examples of creative, crowd-pleasing terror, the murderous misadventures of some teen counselors at a certain Camp Crystal Lake ushered in a new kind of fear. Tagged the “slasher” film by the media, Friday the 13th became a benchmark for dozens of made-on-the-cheap creepshows. Even with its flat format and uninvolving narrative, its inventive kills (‘executed’ by none other than F/X magician Tom Savini) became synonymous with ‘80s horror. As it went on to spawn ten sequels, a TV show, a sensational 2009 reboot, and a legion of fans, the story of Mama Voorhees and her deformed son Jason became the stuff of macabre myth, with devotees deconstructing it over and over again.
With the Blu-ray release of George Lucas’ seminal Star Wars films just a few days away, the Web is already abuzz with - you guessed it, more anger and childhood rape ire. Apparently, geeks given review copies of the six film box set (three origin and three pathetic prequels) are already immersed in the uber-nerd details only to discover - shock and horror - that the creator has been fiddling with his classics once again. More than just replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen or the whole nonsensical “Greedo shot first” furor, these latest alterations have the faithful flummoxed and the haters hollering.
Among the many noted changes: Darth Vader screaming “NOOOOOOOO” as he kills the Emperor at the end of Jedi; Ewoks blinking; R2-D2 hiding behind some CG rocks; Ob-Wan Kenobi’s altered ‘dragon yell’; Menace‘s Yoda goes from puppet to digital….yadda, yadda, yadda. There’s no avoiding it - like a crying baby on a long distance air flight. Words like “radical” and “uncalled for” are once again being used to describe these latest incarnations, but for the most part, it’s nothing new. Since the initial rerelease of A New Hope (aka, the original Star Wars) to theaters back in the ‘90s, Lucas has made it very clear that these are his films and history and fandom be damned, he will tweak them at will until he gets them “right.”
A critic friend of mine wrote the other day that she really isn’t looking forward to the rest of Summer 2011. After picking out a couple of potential highlights (Harry Potter, Cowboys and Aliens) and some sound low points (The Smurfs, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), she concluded that the next month and a half will be a major snore/bore/chore. What any fan of film could have told her, sadly, is that, for the most part, the previous two months argue for one of the worst popcorn movie seasons on record. From underperforming tentpoles to a real lack of original alternatives, May through July have been a trial. Of course, good and bad are a matter of opinion and the laws of probability clearly establish that all perspective is a crapshoot, but a quick overview proves the pathetic trappings.
After the surprising fun of Fast Five (which, while released at the end of April, many considered to be the start of Summer 2011), May measured out quite a bit of mediocrity. Thor, while splashy and flashy, definitely suffered from “Origin Story Syndrome” while certified dung like Something Borrowed and Jumping the Broom belied the ongoing, lingering death of the Romantic Comedy. Bridesmaids and The Hangover II succeeded in selling their scatology to both sides of the gender gene pool, big budget action adventures like Priest and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides underperformed. Unless you count the limited releases - Hersher, The Beaver, Tree of Life, or on the opposite end of the indie spectrum, Passion Play - or carefully created kiddie fare (Kung Fu Panda II), the first month of the annual entertainment overload was very little of either.