Movies are becoming turducken. Not content to be just turkey, the turkey is stuffed with a duck. And that duck? Stuffed with roast chicken. Three meats, perfectly tasty in their own right, frankensteined together into a poultry monstrosity that is ever so slowly becoming an honest-to-goodness Holiday tradition. It's overkill; to paraphrase 'The Brak Show' it's "death by deliciosity."
When I first saw the trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming 'Sucker Punch' I thought it looked like a Pussycat Dolls' music video, only with dragons. And samurai. And Nazis. And did I see a zombie in there? There's a brand new trailer now, released just this week, with a little bit more of the story revealed (a girl in an asylum lives out her escape plan through a mental fantasy -- maybe?), but it's still a hodge-podge of images from adolescent geek playground. It's a Playstation game come to life, and that's not a knock, just the truth.
'Scott Pilgrim Versus The World' is an obvious example of a film that openly bears its video game influence and another "kitchen sink" movie. It's not just a genre-bender; it's a genre-destroyer -- a sci-fi martial arts musical romantic comedy action movie. The good news is that it's bold. The bad news is that it bombed. By looking like a dozen films rolled into one, does it turn off those that would attend just one of its mashed-up genres? In other words, did the action fans skip it because of the romance, and did the "chick flick" patrons sit it out due to the kung-fu fighting? Does the "kitchen sink" approach make marketing the film more difficult?
"Something for everybody" doesn't seem to mean much. Box office supports the idea that most audiences would rather have a crystal clear idea of what they're about to be served. It's part of the reason that horror-comedies almost consistent fail upon release -- are they supposed to be funny or are they supposed to be scary? They're supposed to be both, but then it messes with expectations, and that makes people grouse. Vindication usually arrives on home video (almost always, if the movie is worth a damn), through word-of-mouth, or through the elusive difference between expectations at home on your TV and expectations in a cinema after spending $20 on a ticket and a soda.
So what does this all mean for 'Sucker Punch,' and what does it mean for Disney's newly announced 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' -- a film that puts its own melange right up front in its very title? Maybe nothing, but more likely, they're going to be a tough sell. As cool as 'Sucker Punch' looks (and it does look very, very cool), it's still the insane asylum, Samurai, Nazi, karate, burlesque, robot, dragon, zombie, fighter plane movie. Who exactly is this movie for? Will 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' click with a wide audience or will it only find its patrons from a small demographic of people who enjoy cowboys, ninjas, and vikings, all equally?
The truth is, I'd rather a movie show me one thing I've never seen before, than show me a dozen things I have seen before, only tossed into a blender. 'Sucker Punch,' for all of its visual razzle-dazzle, still strikes me as a movie that could be incredibly stupid (it looks like 'Chicago' meets 'Sky Captain'), but I'll take the chance regardless, because I like taking chances. That's one of the most fun things about going to the movies. 'Sucker Punch's' overstuffed appeal is either going to blow me out of the back of the auditorium or it will be an interesting, junky, style-over-substance failure. Either way, I'm game.