Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Free-For-All

Tropic of can't, sir

Well, crap.

Looking at the first returns from Tropic Thunder, it doesn't appear that the film is catching on. People will try to pin this on the protests about the film, which is like saying oil prices are going down because of the power of positive thinking. Nobody is opting out of seeing this film because The Special Olympics told them to; they're avoiding it because they can't get a sense of the tone. "Is it a stupid comedy? Because if I get to see Ben Stiller's taint, I'm totally there," state the fans of Step Brothers. "Is it satire? Because if it doesn't skewer Hollywood like The Player, I don't want to see it," state the fans of "The Daily Show." "Is it an action comedy? Because I totally love Lethal Weapon," states Danny Glover.

Look, it's more complicated than all of that...and funnier than all of that. I'll be giving this bad boy a full-on review in the upcoming issue, but for now, let me just say that Tropic Thunder is easily the funniest movie of the year so far (although that comes without my having seen Foot Fist Way, which, given Danny McBride's scene stealing in Thunder and Pineapple Express, may be funnier than anything has ever been). If you are a fan of any type of comedy, this film covers it. If you don't laugh at Jack Black's coked-out comedian, you'll laugh at Robert Downey Jr's parody of Russell Crowe in blackface, or a rapper-turned-actor named Alpa Cino selling an energy drink named Booty Juice, or the best cameo in a comedy in recent memory (possibly career resurrecting if enough people see the film). Long story short, I don't want to live in a world where Step Brothers is publicly viewed as more successful than a truly humorous and clever film.

Weekend Battle Plan - Damn the Wars, save the Thunder.

Talk about movies headed in two different directions, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has steadily gotten worse as I've been away from it, whereas Tropic Thunder just keeps getting funnier as I remember lines of dialogue and visuals ("Looks like Mother Nature pissed her pantsuit"). With Batman finally coming to rest (for now) at his final perch (second highest grossing film ever...unless they re-release come Oscar time, which would give it a slim chance at Titanic), I'm guessing that audiences are ready to move on to other fare...and I hope that fare is Thunder-ous. Oh, and in case you haven't read the previous posts, I hope that Clone Wars makes $4.00. So, you know your instructions at this point; if you must protest anything, protest Lucas's inclusion of the homosexual stereotype Hutt.

That's my recommendation: Go see Tropic Thunder twice and punch George Lucas in his hutt.

On DVD: I like Stephen Chow, but I haven't seen CJ7, his slapstick take on ET, featuring a young kid and a crazy alien toy. That said, the only other thing out this week on DVD is Smart People with Sarah Jessica Parker and she's is a black hole that sucks good things into it and turns them awful. Sorry, SJP, no amount of cosmetic surgery can fix the ugly on your talent. So CJ7, sight unseen is my recommendation.

Fearless, Flawless Box Office Predictions

Seriously, one more off week like this and I'm going to have to change this to "Afraid, flawed box office mistakes." This is a tough week because normally Star Wars is a license to print money and Ben Stiller is as close to a solid comedic box office bet as there is...and yet we've got the whole gay hutt/"full-retard" protest shenanigans to contend with. Here's my best guess:

1.) Tropic Thunder - $23 million

To paraphrase Crash Davis's beautiful speech in Bull Durham (you'll note I praise the character and not the actor who played him), "I believe in the soul...the small of a woman's back...the hangin' curveball, high fiber, I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter...and I believe that if a movie is funny and good, people will see it." Okay, so the original ending was better, but I didn't want to get all sexual so early in the morning. I want so badly for Tropic's total to go higher than $30 million...but I'll settle for first place.

2.) Star Wars: Clone Wars - $17 million

The first film in the franchise that won't open in first, won't crack at least $100 million, and won't have fans even moderately excited. Lucas won't listen to reason, maybe he'll listen to failure.

3.) The Dark Knight - $16 million

This could beat Clone Wars. It deserves to. If Batman wins, it will be the most heroic thing he's ever done.

4.) Pineapple Express - $12 million

Tropic Thunder will steal most of this audience, and it should because it's better. Whereas this film crapped the bed in its final act, its opponent understood how to blend action and comedy.

5.) Mirrors - $10 million

A f**king movie about haunted mirrors is coming out. How is this even possible? TAKE THE MIRRORS DOWN. Movie over.
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