When I'm in the mood to get good and depressed, I just take a look at the weekend box office numbers. There are few things more guaranteed to send me into the depths of despair than seeing how many people lined up to see the latest Tyler Perry flick or Adam Sandler comedy (and I use that term very loosely when applied to Sandler, who ranks just marginally below David Spade on my list of people I wish would never, ever make another movie). I swear, every time I see Sandler on the screen, I just want to hurt him -- and I'm a peace-loving, non-violent person under ordinary circumstances. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice person in real life, and he's probably a blast at parties, but I'd rather get my gums scraped without numbing medication than sit through his films. Perplexingly, though, his tend to do okay at the box office, so apparently a lot of people actually like him.
Sandler's latest effort, Click, about a man who buys a remote with the power to affect reality, dominated the top weekend box office slot, with an estimated take of $40 million. The film is going to need some good word-of-mouth to get past its budget of $70 million and into the black, but I expect it will make it over the hump. Jack Black vehicle Nacho Libre, in theaters for 10 days now, has raked in $52.7 million off a relatively small $35 million budget, already putting the flick in the black for Paramount and pretty much guaranteeing we'll be seeing more of Black in the future. For some reason, Black doesn't tend to irritate me nearly so much as Sandler, but neither do I find him particularly appealing. I think what it comes down to for me is that Sandler's roles often have this streak of meanness running through the surface comedy, which I really dislike. Black, on the other hand, tends to have this innocence and naivete about him that's just charming, even when he's running around in tights.
Then we have Waist Deep, which opened in fourth place this weekend with $9.5 million. Don't look for this one to have a lot of legs -- it's got a D on Box Office Mojo and a whopping 4.0 on IMDb at this point (then again, what do you expect from a film that casts a guy named "The Game" as a character named "Meat"?). The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift clings to fifth place with $9.2 million for a total of $42.6 million over two weeks, putting it far behind the first film in the series (that would be The Fast and the Furious -- they're not too creative with the sequel titles, apparently), which took in an impressive $144.5 million off a measly $38 million budget. Maybe someone will take a hint and NOT green-light a fourth installment of the series.
So there's your top five for this weekend, folks: An Adam Sandler flick, Jack Black in tights, another mediocre "crime thriller," and fast cars and hot chicks. Oh, and animated kiddie-flick Cars, which I'm not going to argue with because it's probably the best film in theaters right now for parents who want to take their kids to a movie. This, ladies and gentlemen, represents what Hollywood thinks you want to watch this summer. And, you know, I'm not saying these films are completely without any entertainment value whatsoever, if you're the specific type of person that particular film was targeted for. But filling your movie diet with crap like this is like subsisting on deep-fried Snickers bars and cheeseburgers on Krispy Kreme buns. It makes your brain fat and lazy, and, worse, giving away your box office dollars to these films like these just encourages the folks who green-light the things to keep serving up this slop. I mean, they certainly aren't making these films for the sake of art or enhancing culture or putting positive energy into the world, so it must be about the cash. So, instead of encouraging Hollywood to keep churning out the fast-food flicks, why not hunt out some more worthy films to support instead? We'll even lend you a hand to track some down ...
The Proposition is still in theaters, with a domestic gross of just under $1.4 million. Seriously -- how does a film like Waist Deep take $9 million, while an incredible film like The Proposition struggles to hit the $2 million watermark? If you want guns and action and violence, hell, The Proposition has all that, along with stellar acting, a great script, and some of the best music you'll find in any film, anywhere.
If you're more in the mood for comedy, Thank You For Smoking is still out there as well. Director Jason Reitman's first feature has brought in over $24 million on a $6.5 million budget (that Reitman was able to make this film, with stars like Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Maria Bello and Aaron Eckhart, for under $7 million, should tell you something about the quality of the script). $24 million is nothing to sneeze at, sure, but it's $16 million LESS than Click opened with (and that, my friends, truly boggles my mind), so get out there and give it some love. Also on the comedy front, Strangers With Candy opens June 28 in New York, and expands to other cities in July. Sundance fave Little Miss Sunshine opens
July 28 (Correction: Little Miss Sunshine opens July 26 - ed. ), along with mockudrama Brothers of the Head, about cojoined twin punk rockers. And if you can hold out until August, you'll finally get to see Sundance jury and audience award winner Quinceañera.
It's not easy being green, but lately it's a heck of a lot easier to find enviro-friendly flicks, including Who Killed the Electric Car?, opening in New York and LA June 28, and elsewhere throughout the summer, and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is all over the place. More of a sports buff? Upcoming sports docs include Once in a Lifetime, about the famed soccer team the New York Cosmos, which opens in New York July 7, and The Heart of the Game, about a high school girls' basketball team, expanding to more theaters. With all these great films (and more) as options, there's just no excuse not to at least balance your movie diet with some quality films. Say "no" to more fast food movies and "yes" to great films. Off with you now -- go have a great (and cinematically healthy) summer at the movies!