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This week:
Planet 51

Filthy says:
"I know this is old, but it's important."

I didn't see a new movie this week. I couldn't. It was my sister's anniversary, and every year I volunteer to babysit her kid for a night while she and my brother-in-law go to the Texas Roadhouse and stuff themselves with onion rings until they get anal leakage. It's all very romantic. I don't know why the Mrs. doesn't take me out like that.

My sister's anniversary is about the only time I am allowed to spend unsupervised time with my nephew Jackie. It's my chance to keep in touch with youth culture. He's either seven or twelve years old. I just know the kid is too underage to go drinking and too young-looking for a reasonable fake ID. Also, that the Attitude Lounge won't let a kid in, even if you promise to make him sit in the corner and keep his mouth shut. In previous years, after my sister dropped him off, he and I would watch soft-core porn and eat pigs in blanket and chocolate chip cookie dough until we fell asleep. It was a pretty fucking good time.

Jackie told my sister about our routine, though. Now she and my brother-in-law are pissed off, like I did a terrible thing. Let me make clear: I did not let my underage nephew watch hardcore porn. We only watched Skinemax. You know, the stuff with plots, no penetration and music playing where the grunting and moaning should be. The only reason they make that shit is so it's safe for kids. I mean, if it were meant for adults they wouldn't make it so fucking lame.

Apparently my offense was enough to make me promise not to watch "Soul Intent" starring Shannon Tweed, but not so bad as to force the cancellation of my sister's annual pigout. This year, I took Jackie to see Planet 51 at the Elvis. The Elvis is Arvada's cinematic equivalent of a Goodwill. Second-hand, scratchy prints of movies that are about to come out on video play for $2.50, and the concessions are about half the price of the ass-pillaging you get at the fancy AMC or Regal theaters.

Planet 51 sucks. It's a kid movie, made with slick computer animation that looks good but lacks the really pretty details. In it, Dwayne "The Suck" Johnson plays an astronaut who lands on a distant planet, only to discover it's populated with a race of green aliens who are very much like 1950s Americans. They speak English, breathe air, watch bad monster movies and the girls wear bobby socks. Here, the American astronaut is the feared and dreaded alien. That part's sort of a cute set up, and for the first ten minutes of the movie I though, "well, shit, this ain't bad." Then The Suck opens his big, fucking annoying mouth while the plot devolves into an uninspired pile of dull shit. Planet 51 doesn't exploit its premise. It doesn't have anything to say. It just piles on cliche, lame joke, overused character stereotypes, lousy butt jokes, and tired-ass boy-tries-to-impress-girl plotting. It's a waste of time and energy, and looks like something made by people with nothing new or original to say.

Planet 51 isn't what I really want to talk about, though. I want to talk about cheap-ass, second-run theaters and the people who go to them. When I go on Friday night to see a new movie, I am usually surrounded by assholes. They spend $50 for two people to see a movie and get a tub of popcorn and tanker-sized sodas. They often don't know what they are going to see until they walk up to the box office. They aren't there so much to be entertained as not to be bored, and they can afford to do that. At the bargain theater, it's a different story. These are people who really want something out of the theater experience. There are families of six paying $15 for that rare night where they can get out of the house and enjoy a little luxury. There was a couple in front of me at the concession stand paying for popcorn and soda with their change. They'd count out two dollars in pennies and nickels for a Coke, and then seeing they still had more, order something else until all that change was gone. Yes, it sucked being behind them, but I guarantee they enjoyed the fuck out of their snacks.

The people at the Elvis Cinemas put their faith and their entire entertainment budget in the hands of Hollywood. Going is not just something to do, it's a genuine treat, a real escape from the shittiness of life. Many of them are paying Hollywood all they can afford to forget that life can suck ass a lot of the time, that unemployment is high and low-income workers are paid less than ever before.

The problem is Hollywood's grassfuckers long ago stopped thinking their job was to entertain. They are way more focused on the pricks in tight jeans with a lot of disposable income for which going to the movies is no big deal. They've turned moviemaking into bean counting and sucked the imagination, creativity and risk-taking right out of it. They don't think of that family blowing a month's entertainment budget at the Elvis when they make a movie. They've marginalized the ones who need them most.

Planet 51 is a perfect example of how movies are leached of magic, joy or surprise by the factory approach. Moviemakers are rewarded more for efficiency and playing it safe than for entertaining. Planet 51 is a passable movie, I suppose, but that's all it is. Worse, that's all it was ever intended to be. In almost every frame you can see that the director, writer and producers settled for merely adequate, how they refused to take risks or be original. For God's sake, they hired Dwayne Johnson and Justin Long. Those guys are the definition of settling for less. They are men who have name recognition but are nobody's favorite actor, or even a liked one. They just are.

Hollywood owes the public more when they're fucking with the working man's weekend. They need to go beyond making "successful" movies and make movies that won't make us hate ourselves, and that won't make a poor family spending its entire entertainment budget feel like it is being raped in the ass with a rusty crowbar . I'm all for Hollywood making money, as long as they try to make shit good first. But they are intent on making cash the easiest way they can. Every individual in Hollywood must stop and assess why he or she is making movies. If you're a writer and you have nothing to say, then stop fucking writing movies! There are plenty of other jobs you can do that don't stick it to the folks at the Elvis. For example, working the concession stand. If you're a director, have the balls to turn down bad shit and to refuse to turn good scripts in to generic turds just to please some executive whose idea of clever is imitating whatever's popular. It's okay to make less money. It's okay to be proud and moderately wealthy instead of a fabulously rich heartless bstard. For actors, well, never mind. Most of you are dumbasses. For producers, have the courage to take advice from people with new ideas and the balls to say no to the same old shit. Go past the most obvious ideas. Look beyond your insular little world of the same old writers and directors. Take chances. Stand up for the good ideas. And if you can't, get the fuck out.

Even if Hollywood really put in the effort, there would still be shitty movies. That's because not everything works no matter how hard you try. But at least they could be proud, and the overall quality would go up. There would be fewer movies with Dwayne Johnson, less farting in kids' movies and zero "reimaginings" of bad TV sitcoms.

To Hollwood:, think of that middle-aged couple at the Elvis breaking their piggy bank to go to the movies. Do you really want to give them less than your best? Do you really want accountants to decide what they see? If the answer is yes, go find another job, asshole.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Pete Hammond of Boxoffice Magazine

Edge of Darkness "will keep you on the edge of your seat!"

When in Rome is "Entertaining and full of laughs!"

The Book of Eli "gets 2010 off to a spectacularly exciting start!"

Filthy's Reading
Philip Roth - Portnoy's Complaint

Listening to
Talking Heads - Talking Heads: 77


Our Man in Havana