Every month Ken Lowery and I so on and so on cue trailer comments…
DW: Steven Soderbergh is just bound and determined to make us think Channing Tatum is a real actor, isn’t he?
It’s Soderbergh, so I’m cutting it a lot of slack, but this just feels like too much of a jumble.* Is it a corrupt doctor story, a corrupt pharmaceutical company story, a husband driving his wife crazy story? I’d be interested in seeing Soderbergh take on either of those, honestly. I’d plunk down for that in a heartbeat. But, c’mon guy, pick one to sell me on.
*Yes, the irony of saying that a film by the guy who made Schizopolis has an incoherent plot is not lost on me.
KL: It’s a thriller! I guess.
It seems impossible to discuss this movie without also discussing The Meaning of Soderbergh and blah blah blah since this is apparently his last film (Believe It When I See It, Party of One, right here) but I confess the same slight puzzlement many others have: Why’s he going out on something so seemingly… rote? Perhaps it’s not, I don’t know. Despite quite liking a number of his films, I’ve never loved any of them, and this doesn’t look like the one to make the rest of them make more sense to me.
KL: This looks just brutal. We’ve got the guy who directed Horrible Bosses — the most JV of raunchy comedies to feature any of its leads – and the guy who wrote not just The Hangover II but also Scary Movies 3 and 4, and Superhero Movie, which is apparently a movie that can claim to have been “written.”
At least the posters fall squarely in line with the dopey portrait series exemplified with diminishing returns by The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, all but screaming “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS CRAAAAZY PERSON BLOOPTY BLOO?” And note the bonus “use a Big Gulp to denote trashiness” visual cue for Melissa McCarthy as pioneered by Amy Poehler on the Baby Mama promotional art. This way, we know going in not to expect anything that may startle the easily surprised.
DW: I usually have slightly more tolerance for Jason Bateman, though in aggregate his career has been far more “miss” than “hit.” But, man, this just looks like all kinds of waste.
And then I think about something like Butter, which was as slight as a film could be, but an actually pretty decent and well made comedy. And that sort of middle-of-the road film is now something you only get in indies, while mainstream comedies are…this sort of thing.
KL: Oh, goodness gracious. If you can find one person on this earth who genuinely loves the last Die Hard (and – important caveat – isn’t carrying at least three things diagnosable in the DSM-IV) then I’ll eat every hat in my house. And I like hats!
So here we are with another one, no doubt mandated entirely by the last one’s pleasing cost-to-revenue ratio and not at all by burning desire in the audience. It’s depressingly ironic that a franchise that made its bones on brisk, economical action should become so bloated and ungainly.
The three things I feel worth talking about lay out thusly:
1) At least this one’s R rated?
2) My Bruce Willis love is apparently bulletproof. He basically takes whatever work comes his way, I guess, but he also doesn’t limit himself, and I appreciate his eagerness to do projects that might be considered too unconventional for traditional action stars. So what I’m saying is: he can do as many of these movies as he wants and I’ll never think lesser of him.
3) That said, man, he looks so old when he smiles in the trailer, and that bums me out.
DW: I seem to be the odd man out amongst my circles of friends in neither particularly liking nor disliking the original Die Hard. Yeah, as far as 80s action films go, it’s pretty good, but that’s a depressingly low bar to set. Being of better quality than Cyborg or Tequila Sunrise isn’t much to be proud of. I don’t think I’ve ever even bothered to watch any of them past the second, so it’s unlikely I’ll bother with this one anyway. I will say that this feels awfully like an attempt to pass the torch to a reasonable stand in for Willis, who yeah, is starting to look pretty old, and keep the franchise going for whatever life it may yet have in it.
I kinda want to see Willis in a remake of The Detective now…
DW: I have absolutely no idea if this series of Young Adult novels are any good or not. I see that “Paranormal Teen Romance” section in the book store and I am perfectly content to say “not for me” and move on. I’ll leave the condemnations and the defenses to the genre for others, other than to note that a) they all seem kinda samey to me and b) I have a vague memory of all this Paranormal Teen Romance stuff going on with teen and preteen girls of my acquaintance in the late 80s. Heck, Dark Shadows was the same sort of thing.
It ain’t nothing new and so all the reactions, pro and con, seem silly to me, in other words.
Which is a long and roundabout way of saying that this really looks like it wants a piece of that sweet, sweet Twilight cash and so “not for me” is all I’m gonna say.
KL: I wonder if our heroine will defy the forces trying to pigeonhole her life and find her own way?
KL: Normally I wouldn’t care, but this Rock-heavy actioner is from Participant Media. Participant Media, if you’re not aware, is a production company that puts out what you might call “socially conscious” (that is, “lefty”) movies and documentaries about current events and the Crises of Our Times and so on. That they’re going the action movie route (or at least that’s how Snitch is being positioned) says they’re either getting savvier about sugaring the pill, or they’re going the Christian Rock route (no pun intended) and it’s not going to work well for anyone.
I want so desperately for The Rock to hit the leading man stride he’s meant to be, but I’m not convinced this will be the thing that does it. The February release date doesn’t speak well for its chances, either.
DW: Knowing that Participant Media is involved has me looking for lefty subtext, which is a pretty clever way to get me to pay attention to what otherwise looks like a pretty standard action film.
DW: If I was feeling generous I might say that casting an alien abduction movie as a haunted house movie is actually a pretty clever twist on the conventions of both genres. Except, of course, that the cleverness there comes from the joy of finding something unexpected, and the trailer pretty much ruins that. I’m not sure why, either; it’s not as if the audiences for haunted house movies and alien abduction films are so disparate that taking one approach in the marketing is going to scare the other group away.
What actually turns me off, and pretty spectacularly too, is that “from the makers of Insidious” tag. Insidious was something I didn’t have high hopes for, saw a few positive reviews for, watched it, and was actually angered by how awful it ended up being. It’s an anti-recommendation for me at this point, that no even JK Simmons can counter.
KL: Well it’s all there, isn’t it? The ominous signs and symbols, startling moments of the surreal nested in the commonplace, the child who’s seen more than the adults but can only articulate it in childlike terms, the disassociation from normal life and normal solutions, the oddball expert brought in, blah blah blah. 31 years on and we’re still living under Poltergeist’s shadow.