January is notorious for being a dumping ground for bad film – movies that, for one reason or another, sounded good on paper (a slick action-horror adaptation of a best selling video game with Sir Ben Kingsley as the bad guy!) but, for one reason or another, got lost along the way (that movie became “BloodRayne”). The old industry trick seems to be to get audiences fed up with the state of theatrical entertainment and they will get restless. They will crave something – anything – that’s better. This is how movies like “Big Momma’s House 2” gross $116 million worldwide. This usually works since our standards, as a viewing audience, have been lowered so much that we want to see another Cameron Diaz movie! Normally, this would turn into a rant of epic proportions, concerning the dumbing down of American cinema and the studios underestimating the American public, but after looking at as many trailers as are available for the year 2007, I am here for different reasons: I am here to warn you of the impending apocalypse.
Now first and foremost – don’t panic. These things happen.
What you really need to do is find your way to your closest multiplex and see every terrible piece of empty brained popcorn fodder out there. Go see Stomp the Yard! Hell, see it twice! Lord knows we don’t have enough movies thought up by old, white movie executives to exploit another facet of young African-American culture. Check out
“Epic Movie” and then sneak into “Alpha Dog” and then go see “Epic Movie” again! The point is you need to get desensitized to bad movies because, for the next year, most movies are going to mean just what they meant in junior high make out sessions – crap.
Now, I understand that this is a rather cynical (and unfounded) stance to take based on previews and plot descriptions alone for 52 weeks (and long holidays) worth of movies. But it’s not even that; because it’s obviously impossible to pass judgment on a film based purely on title and who is in it (“Blow” starring Pee-Wee Herman is a good example). But the one thing you can judge a film prematurely on, and be right 90% of the time, is if there’s a little number suddenly following the title of a favorite film previously released.
There are currently an estimated 50 sequels lined up for 2007. Has Hollywood simply run out of good ideas or have they realized that a sequel can be almost down right unwatchable and still make $250 million (“Pirates,” anyone)? Obviously the latter, as, economically speaking, it’s a really good idea. So once again, we’re in the midst of a living explanation for our future children about why they made so many “Saw” movies, when only the first one was really any good (you may remember having this same conversation with your parents about “Police Academy”).
So is 2007 going to suck up and down in terms of having nothing to do on a Friday night but catch a smoke and burn a film? Not really. We’re getting “Grindhouse,” an exploitation double feature from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez where nothing is over-the-top in two hour-long horror movies. Also is the newest from Pixar, “Ratatouille,” with portly Patton Oswald playing a portly mouse who dreams of never eating garbage again.
Beloved television shows “Reno 911!” and “The Simpsons” are both receiving the big-screen treatment (“Reno 911!: Miami” and “The Simpsons Movie,” respectively). David Fincher returns with “Zodaic,” his first film since 2003’s so-so “Panic Room.” The film is a thriller about the never captured Zodiac killer with Jake Gyllenhaal. And those responsible for the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead” are back with a cop comedy, “Hot Fuzz.” So yes, there will be some great movies out there, too.
But don’t rest easy. Before you know it, you’ll be wondering how the hell you ended up sitting center seat watching a sequel that wasn’t needed because it’s predecessor wasn’t really that good to begin with (“Saw IV,” “Rush Hour 3,” “Shrek The Third,” “Ocean’s 13”), even though these sequels seem like they may actually be better than the original (“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “Evan Almighty” with Steve Carrell).
We’ll get the back story to Mr. Lector himself in “Hannibal Rising” and see a young wizard gather an army, kiss a girl and fight a noseless Ralph Finnes in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” In what are technically sequels, or what Tim Burton idiotically calls “reimaginings,” “Transformers” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will be back with a whole new breath of computer animated existence. And in a league all its own is the latest in, tragically, the only existing Bruce Willis franchise: “Live Free or Die Hard.”
Good, bad, I guess it’s going to be like every other year. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe there will be another “The Departed” and another “Scanner Darkly” and I could probably use at least three more “Little Miss Sunshines.” Maybe. But nobody’s promising anything. So be on the safe side and get on out there and see that new Eddie Murphy movie where he plays a bazillion people and it only gets funnier every time he does it so you can enjoy it 28 weeks later . . . without a hint of irony.