The beauty of Hollywood is that like life, the more things change the more they stay the same. You can change your hair, your clothes, your attitude, your hatred of Renee Zellweger, your entire world even, but it will always be counter-balanced by something that never remotely changes, like awkward family dinners, surreptitiously getting a stomach ache when it’s time to do the dishes, and the need to boot a Taco Bell Grilled Stuffed burrito at three in the morning after a crazy night of drinking.
Same goes with Hollywood.
Lindsay’s back to being a normal young girl? Not to worry, Britney is still plowing through red lights with her kid in the backseat. Heroes finally at long last starting to pwn again? Awesome, cause Two and a Half Men is still ten pounds of ass in a five pound bag. Nic Cage is putting out a movie you actually want to see (National Treasure 2)? Fear not, you still have Ghost Rider and Next to look back on and cry about.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The WGA Strike has the whole town shaken up about the future of our industry, but you know what? I still see FIVE movies coming out this Thanksgiving. And another THIRTY in December. Primetime shows going off the air? Fear not, cause Idol is just around the corner. Worried that the internet is changing the face of entertainment by dropping addictive dramatic programming (holla, Quarterlife!)? Relax, the porn isn’t going anywhere.
I take comfort in that.
It’s a cliché because it’s true, the more things change the more they stay the same. My life did complete 180’s this year. I couldn’t even recognize The Jay I was last year (before I was introduced to such game-changing things as Van Der Heyden White Table Wine, Megan Fox, Gossip Girl, 300, The Deathly Hallows, Blake Lewis, The Dillon Panthers, Muse and the near-loss of The Butterscotch Stallion), and yet I know, without a shadow of a doubt, how my Thanksgiving is going to end. At the movies, same as it ever was. No matter where I am in my life, or where my family is; no matter who I’m dating or what I’m working on, I will always go to the movies on Thanksgiving.
And I know I’m not the only one.
Which is why I write this column every year. There are more then ten movies to choose from this week. How is it even possible to decide what to see? Do you PG-it up with the fam and drop into Enchanted? Ditch the kids and scope the CGI Jolie nips in Beowulf? Get completely baked and squint through the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There? Or do you drag your tryptophanned ass to the multiplex and surrender your kaysh to whatever movie is playing next, thereby rolling the dice that you might end up in Bee Movie and wondering why you ever found Jerry Seinfeld funny in the first place (what is the deal with comedians who should know better?)? It’s a tough decision. Much tougher than “Do I have thirdsies” or “Can I get away with muting the Cowboys game instead of turning it off” or even “Should I TiVo Private Practice tonight since Gossip Girl is a rerun” (short answer: no)?
Picking a movie to see on Thanksgiving can be arduous. So like I did last year and the year before, I’ve provided a breakdown of all the cinematic possibilities for you and yours to take in on this glorious day of thanks. The Jay may have changed, but his generosity towards his readers and love for bashing crappy Holiday movies remains the same.
RELEASED ON WEDNESDAY
Enchanted – Do you know when a TV show hits really really big and all the stars of the show start getting movie offers, and like a year a half later their crappy movies start flooding theaters, and you get a really bad feeling about the whole feeling? That’s what’s happening with me right now about the cast of Grey’s Anatomy, specifically with Patrick Dempsey. He couldn’t hold up a movie career in the 80’s when they were practically throwing movies at whomever rocked that month’s Tiger Beat cover (how else can you explain Jon Cryer?), and now you can see the desperation in his eyes. He’s even said in interviews how badly he wants a film career again. The problem is that his persona as a kid was the loveable nerd that we all wanted to root for, but now his persona is “look how awesome my hair is! Pay no attention to how smarmy I am! Look at the monkey, look at the monkey! Isaiah Washington said fag!” I see him playing the sensitive, straight-laced male lead in a Disney flick and it just doesn’t sit right. He should just stick to mooning over bitchy pale faced, depressive residents and avoiding the Izzie-George storyline at all costs.
That being said, the movie is gonna go big. The concept is solid, the rest of the cast is great (I’m glad James Marsden is finally getting his due.), and young girls haven’t had a princess movie in ages. If you’re part of a big, young family, this is the movie you will see.
August Rush – I refuse to watch Robin Williams play crazy in a movie ever again. I don’t care that Keri Russell is in it and I’m loving her so much after seeing Waitress last week that I’d line up to see her co-star in a Kirsten Dunst/Reese Witherspoon chick flick. I have no desire to see this nonsense. Besides, I read the script a year ago and guessed the ending on page three, so I think I can hold out till Netflix and then just bloop-bloop to the Keri scenes.
The Mist – Is it weird that I don’t want to give Frank Darabont any Shawshank Redemption-leeway on this one? He made one of the best movies of all time, but for some reason I can’t get behind him. Maybe it’s his over-reliance on Stephen King, or his too-precious by 5/8’s direction off The Green Mile, or it could quite easily be that I’m nervous about his talent after Lucas trashed his Indy 4 script, but The Mist is doing nothing for me. And I’m a HUGE Thomas Jane fan (I’ve watched Depp Blue Sea on TNT more times than I’d care to admit). The horror market has been positively flooded and there’s just too many interesting indies out there to waste my time on a B-list monster movie.
Hitman – I had no idea this movie was coming out today until four days ago. That is not good. You can’t sneak an action movie into theaters when a) no one really knows the lead, and b) it’s based on a video game. It’s like the filmmakers are asking for a $9 million dollar opening weekend and a 56% drop in week two. The trailer action looks tight, I’m digging on Olyphant after he held up his end of the Die Hard 4 agreement, and who doesn’t love a good assassin movie (holla, Sly and Antonio!), but unfortunately, the timing is way off. Even more so after the trailer for “Wanted” came out two weeks ago and blew people’s mindgrapes. Angelina Jolie in black mascara, Morgan Freeman wielding a glock and bullets that curve in mid-air? Now that’s how you do it!
I’m Not There – This is a total Scooby Doo movie. Todd Haynes is a genius, I’m not arguing that fact, but he must have been Towelie-high to think casting six different people to play Bob Dylan would make a watchable movie. Sure it’s interesting. Who wouldn’t be curious about Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett playing the same character? But beyond the bemused head-tilt factor, what else is there? Two hours of high-profile stars indulging themselves? A protagonist that mumbles all his words? A biopic without dramatic conflict (spoiler alert: he’s still famous and talented!)? I like vanity projects as much as the next repressed film student, but I think I prefer my Bale in a Bat suit, my Heath in a Brokeback suit, my Gere in a Gerbil suit and my Blanchett playing people with boobs. Call me crazy.
ALREADY IN THEATERS
Beowulf – Can someone please tell Robert Zemeckis he’s talented, so he can climb a ladder, get over himself and go back to making popcorn movies about time-traveling 80’s sitcom stars and insanely hot animated girls named “Jessica”? I’m sure Beowulf is a monumental technical achievement that will revolutionize digital filmmaking, but all I see is a Lord of the Rings slackjob riding too hard on our desire to see Angelina Jolie naked (been there, locked my door, done that, holla Cyborg 2!), our fandom of 300 and our willingness to validate the time spent slaving through the book in our Junior year comparative lit course. Hated the book, hated the paper I wrote about the book, but I love the Jolie nips, so if I can get tickets to an IMAX-3D screening I’ll go. Otherwise, I’ll just save the kaysh and do a Gia / Return of the King double bill and then shed a tear on my BTTF box set.
Bee Movie – Didn’t Pixar do this a lot better, and with a tremendous amount more class, like a decade ago? And seriously, Jerry Seinfeld was always the liability on his show. Not too mention that Chris Rock doesn’t know how to be funny in movies and Renee Zellweger is not an attraction for me unless she’s thirty pounds overweight and British, completing Tom Cruise or wearing only a Musictown apron, banging Rex Manning and rocking out with Coyote Shivers on top of Empire Records. Shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior. I swear Seinfeld gets less funny the longer Bee Movie is in theaters.
American Gangster – I have nothing to say about this movie other than I hope it’s better than the last Russell Crowe / Denzel Washington movie, Virtuosity. Also that while I assume Denzel is his usual balls-out awesome self, I much prefer him as a bad guy when he gets to torment Ethan Hawke, clown around in bed with a naked Eva Mendes, and name drop bad Peter Jackson movies than when he has to stare down Russell Crowe, and make us believe our man Maximus couldn’t totally pwn his drug-dealing ass in less time than it takes to hurl a cell-phone across a hotel lobby. Are you not entertained? Probably, but not this holiday.
No Country For Old Men – Everyone is saying it’s the best Coen Brothers film of all time, and who am I too argue, but what I want to know is if at any point in the movie Tommy Lee Jones says “Fuck it dude, let’s go bowling” and then a bunch of nihilists attack Josh Brolin. Cause in the immortal words of Van Wilder, “that would be super”.
Fred Claus – Here is where the central point of this post comes full circle. Here we have a big splashy Holiday movie about Santa Claus, the importance of family and the magic of Christmas, but yet it stars Vince Vaughn. So you think he’s changed; grown out of his fast talking hipster crap and finally embracing being an adult and making movies that kids and parents alike can enjoy. But not so fast kid, cause there he goes throwing elves around, dancing like a crazy wedding crasher, dropping lightning-speed monologues about eggnog quality and using his razor sharp with to try and nail Rachel Weisz.
The more things change, the more – well, you know how it ends.
So to recap, Enchanted looks like a big piece of wholesome Disney throwback fun, so long as you can ignore the pomposity that is The Patrick Dempsey Helmet Hair of Smugness and just focus on how adorable Amy Adams is, August Rush is an avoid at all costs mess of family treacle and Keri Russell hotness, The Mist is for scare-junkies only, Hitman secretly wishes it were a Vin Diesel movie and I’m Not There is for pretentious music snobs high on dirt weed. Beowulf looks epic and by epic I mean “nice gold boobies Angie”, Bee Movie is only good for drumming up sales of the Seinfeld DVD’s, American Gangster gets the critical nod, No Country For Old Men is not into that whole brevity thing but still might be totally awesome and Fred Claus is Vince Vaughn same as he ever was, but this time in a Santa hat.
So I say get drunk on German Reisling, fat off stuffing and turkey, get rich gambling on the Colts to cover and heading out to the movies to catch Enchanted for the families, Beowulf for the Next Gens, American Gangster for the cool kids and No Country for the indie set.