There are few pleasures better than
going to a matinee in the summertime. Even if everything
about the experience is awful.
Going to the movies in the middle of the afternoon is one of the
great joys of summer. The day outside is so bright it makes you
squint like Clint Eastwood, which is a drag because it reminds you
that you are not Clint Eastwood but, rather, a short, dumpy guy.
The sun is so hot the trees wilt like fainting ballerinas in a
1940s musical. And the air is so thick and still it is positively
But here you are, inside. In the bath of air conditioning. In the
lovely darkness. Catching a movie in the middle of the afternoon
any time of the year is a decadent treat. You feel like you've
stolen something. Like you've done something forbidden. You should,
after all, be at work. But as delicious as a matinee is, it's even
better during the summer. The movie is so worthless that the guilt
is that much greater and so, then, is the pleas-ure. As you wait
for the picture to come on, the moment is, as Steely Dan once put
it, a countdown to ecstasy.
Summer movies are such a great time they even have their own
season, which is summer, and their own genre, which is summer
movie. It is a demanding genre. The script can't be just plain
stupid, the leading plot device of the mainstream Hollywood movie.
It must be monumentally, inconceivably, unbelievably stupid. It has
to make so little sense that 13-year-old boys think it's cool.
Cities must explode. Oceans must catch fire. Entire planets must
blister. Characters must yell at each other all the time for no
apparent reason. And the soundtrack must make absolutely no sense
whatsoever because its primary aim isn't to enhance the mood of the
film, but to be a big seller in its own right at the record stores.
To ensure this, it must be recorded at incredibly deafening,
ear-shattering loudness that could drown out the rock band
performing at the amphitheater across town.
All that's fine. Summer is a mindless season, and it deserves
The problem is what they've done to movies, not just to summer
movies, but to all movies. And that problem is this, or should I
I'm settled into a seat at my neighborhood quadrillionplex,
awaiting the showing of the movie I've come to see. The movie
theater is a multiscreen destination, with an arcade, a restaurant,
and pretty much everything you could possibly desire for an
afternoon, save, perhaps, a swimming pool. The place is the size of
a small city and it is as byzantine as a souk, with a warren of
spaces the size of your larger living room, with screens the size
of your larger home entertainment center. Coming here to this
monstrosity, with its bad parking and zillions of teenagers hanging
out, is no joy. It is part of the aforementioned problem.
I've bought popcorn and a drink, which caused me to take out a
short-term note borrowed against my home's equity. Problem.
Commercials come on. Problem.
Then come the interminable previews. Not only are there about 43 of
them that you have to sit through nowadays; some of them are for
movies that won't be released until some rare cosmological event.
EXPLODING CARS AND GRUNTING MEN. Coming MAY 23, 2007.
explodingcarsandgrunt ingmen.com. Problem.
That's followed by the short film with the girl in the cowboy
outfit who tells us in a husky, deep male voice that the theater
has exits and bathrooms and plenty of candy to buy. Forget that the
whole thing is witless, unnecessary, and annoying to the point of
fingernails on a blackboard. Forget, too, that the technology
probably exists to make her lips move in sync with the words rather
than make her seem like a character out of an old Japanese monster
movie. Finally, forget that this poor girl's career has been ruined
for life since no one will ever look at her again without hearing
Remember only that we already know everything this insipid movie
purports to tell us. ("And no smokin'!") Problem.
Finally, the movie I've come to see appears on the screen. And here
is the biggest problem of all. It used to be that Universal
Studios, or whoever, made a movie. There was a director, a producer
or two, and that was it. Now, though, it seems no one single
com-pany makes a movie anymore. It takes a freakin' village.
in association with
LIVE WIRE ENTERTAINMENT
BON TEMPS ROULER PRODUCTIONS
THE SHOW MUST GO ON STUDIOS
HOW MUCH LONGER, LTD.
YOU'RE JOKING, NOT ANOTHER
OKAY, THIS ISN'T FUNNY FLICKS
a release by
IT DOESN'T END STUDIOS
in conjunction with
WAS IT ALWAYS THIS WAY PICTURES
OH, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP CINEMA
ALL THE GOOD NAMES ARE TAKEN
MEG LO MANIAC
TY R. SOME
PAM PERD as THE SOUS CHEF
[music, scenery, and stuff exploding]
TOO MANY COOKS
WELL, THERE WAS A GUY, THEN
THERE WAS THIS OTHER GUY, THEN
THERE WAS A SCRIPT DOCTOR, AND
ANOTHER ONE, AND, HELL, THEY
ALMOST WENT ON STRIKE AND,
TRUTHFULLY NOW, WOULD IT HAVE MADE
A DIFFERENCE IF THEY DID GIVEN THE BOMBASTIC DRIVEL
THAT MAKES IT ONTO CELLULOID?