You Don’t Have To Do $200 million To Be A Success

Opening May 18th (and, technically, the 16th):

Falling short of their success doesn’t mean failure
Does it?
I’m a man and I like sports (phew, it felt good to finally get that off my chest). One of the things I always find interesting about sports is the impact transcendent athletes have on the generation that follows, and not always in a positive way. Take Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan took basketball to a new place with an individual dominance that led to championships that we had never seen before or since. But look what that has done to the stars of today. Kobe is so obsessed with getting to championship #6 that he appears to be becoming impossible to play with. LBJ gets killed for playing team basketball and not having a shelf full of championship trophies. The Spurs are often dismissed and forgotten. And all of this because apparently the new definition of success is 6 NBA championships in 8 years winning the finals MVP each time and at least 5 regular season MVP’s. Its crazy, we know its crazy, but we can’t help but compare everyone to MJ and in so doing make successful seem like coming up short.
Will The Avengers mind blowing assault on the box office record books do what Jordan did for the rest of the movies released this summer? Will we look at Battleship as a flop even when it has already made its money back before even opening in the U.S.? Will The Dictator hurt Sasha Baron Cohen’s career is it doesn’t put up Hangover like numbers? The truth is many of the movies penning this weekend will be successful (and some already are), I just don’t know if we will see it that way when The Avengers is the highest grossing film this weekend.
The Dictator
Interest Level: 6
Will I Miss The “Man On The Street” Fake Documentary Style of Borat and Bruno: Absolutely Not

note: yes, I am aware it came out on Wednesday, sorry there was no preview then
There are people out there who do not like Sasha Baron Cohen. They didn’t get why so many people loved Borat. They thought the few moments they saw of the “Ali-G Show” were stupid. They can’t figure out what Isla Fisher sees in him (it seems like an odd percentage of people who hate him love his wife, go figure). And if you are in that camp I say to you, this is not going to be the movie that changes your mind. However, if you loved Borat but thought Bruno was dull and redundant this might be the movie for you. The reviews have been solid and many are looking at this as a return to form to a guy that was the hottest comedic actor in the world 6 years ago.
Battleship
Interest Level: 7 (see the legend, this means my son really wants to see it)
Will I be surprised by a single frame of it: Not A Chance
All of the vitriol aimed at the Transformer movies has really annoyed me. Not because I think they are great films but because they were exactly the films you knew they were going to be. Pardon the crudeness of the example but it would be akin to reviewing an adult movie and complaining about the amount of sex and lack of plot development. Were they big, loud and obnoxious with plots they barely held together? Yes. Did boys between the ages of 6 to 16 love them? Yes, and that is who they were made for. I am basically considering Battleship to be a Transformers movie and as such I know the visuals will be pretty cool, the plot will have holes the size trucks and my son will be totally engrossed. You know what else I will know? I know I won’t hate it, I doubt I will love it be I know I won’t regret the two hours I spent watching it with my son.
What To Expect When You Are Expecting
Interest Level: 1
Will I think less of you for liking it: No
I suppose I could have saved my self some time with all three of the wide releases this week by just saying they are all review proof. Is there any review of this movie that would get me to want to see it? Nope. Is there any review that would make those who are excited about it not want to see it? Nope. Look, this will be exactly what we all expect it to be. Now that sounds torturous to me, but it may not to you.
Hysteria
Interest Level: 3
My Wife’s Interest Level: 3
You’ve heard it before. You’ve heard it on TV shows and movies and anywhere where people have talked about women and psychology. Doctors believed that, for women, mental illness could be cured by an orgasm. Shocking! This is the story about one such doctor who invents the vibrator to assist with said cure. Again, Shocking! This looks to be a sex romp without sex. A period film meant to expose the foolishness of the puritan principles that are still such a part of our culture – through comedy. The problem is when I watch the trailer and read the synopsis and see the reviews I just don’t get it. It looks obvious and awkward and the fact that it isn’t graphic inherently undermines the “we are too shy about sex” thing that the whole movie is going for.
Elena
Interest Level: 8
Could an American studio make this movie: Not Well
This is one of those festival champions that I have been hearing about for the better part of a year. It is the story of a dutiful housewife whose husband takes suddenly ill. The husband’s daughter from a previous marriage has designs on the inheritance and the wife feels compelled to hatch a desperate plan to save her children and herself. The reason this couldn’t be made by a studio is because, while my synopsis may suggest black and white morality and characters the film is all grey. There are no villains or heroes, there are just people, desperate people, doing what they think they need to do. But hey, its Russian so you know it is depressing.
Beyond The Black Rainbow
Interest Level: 6
Odds of it being too weird: 75%
Think A Clockwork Orange meets The Cell meets Sucker Punch. You know what, just watch the trailer and you will immediately know if this movie is for you (while still having no idea what the movie is about).
Polisse
Interest Level: 1
But Is it Good: Yes
A sprawling film about a journalist who is assigned to cover the juvenile division of the French police. That is the division that deals with crimes against and occasionally by children (abuse and the like). Look, I am sure this is well done (it won a jury prize at Cannes last year) but I have zero interest in watching children in danger for two hours. I know there is more to it than that and maybe I will be missing something great, but I am willing to take that chance. Also, by all accounts this is a film that was in some real need of editing, of tightening up.
Virginia
Interest Level: 2
How long ago was this movie made: 2 Years, maybe more
A sheriff who is running for state senate sees his chances slip away when his daughter begins to date the son of the emotionally imbalanced woman the sheriff has been having an affair with for the last two decades. This is a movie that was killed when it hit the festival circuit in 2010. It is apparently incoherently disjointed and even a strong performance from Jennifer Connelly gets lost in the poor filmmaking.
Mansome
Interest Level: 4
Will I ever sit through it from beginning to end: Nope
Its not a horrible idea, a documentary about the growth of the meta sexual male and the beauty industry that has grown around him. I just know when I watch part of it (just wait for this to show up on A&E or some other cable channel in a year) I’ll just be thinking of the South Park meta sexual episode and then I will be annoyed that this documentary isn’t nearly as funny or insightful.
Lovely Molly
Interest Level: 5
Do I feel bad for the filmmaker: A Little
This is the latest movie by Eduardo Sanchez. Who is Eduardo Sanchez? He is the guy that made The Blair Witch Project. I feel bad for Eduardo because it looks like he may be destined to never come close to living up to the popularity and impact of his first film. Its like Harper Lee writing To Kill A Mockingbird right out of the gate, where do you go from there? And while The Blair Witch Project is no To Kill A Mockingbird let’s not diminish the impact that movie had 12 years ago. It was huge and gave birth to this whole “found footage” genre that is regrettably taking over half the movies hollywood is putting out. This movie looks fine in a horror movie kind of a way, but it will be remembered by few – such is the destiny of Eduardo Sanchez.
American Animal
Interest Level: 8
Odds of it being as great as I hope: So-So
A man with a terminal illness slips deeper and deeper into madness as his roommate and best friend is leaving for a job in the morning. South by Southwest audiences went nuts for this film, many saying it is the best independent comedy to have come around since… well, maybe ever. Does it seem like it might get old or be of one note too long? Sure, but so do most comedies when you just see the trailer. I can’t wait to see it on VOD, but I also suspect that a significant portion of people will find it nothing but annoying and obnoxious. As with Beyond The Black Rainbow watch the trailer and see what you think. It doesn’t give everything away but it does give you a good feel for what you would be getting yourself into.
Conclusion
None of the movies, not even the wide releases, are destined for box office glory while we still bask in The Avengers’ hue, but, depending on your tastes, there are definitely some movies worth checking out. For me I want to see five out of the eleven soon (The Dictator, Battleship, Elena, Beyond The Black Rainbow and American Animal). Five out of eleven is not bad, not bad at all.
But hey, what do I know, I’m fat.