So, the summer movie season is officially starting in March, now, with The Hunger Games setting all sorts of box-office records and looking pretty much like a lock as one of the top three or four highest-grossing films of 2012. Which makes April the new June, I guess? I could even stretch that out a bit farther than it deserves to go (R-rated sex comedy, animated movie from a respected studio that isn’t DreamWorks, star-driven high concept adventure/thriller, sci-fi action picture), but I think I should refrain do that. Only observe with a small amount of disomfited confusion that the whole month looks like a mixture of films that are neither “small” nor “big”, but all jumbled up, without any kind of personality guiding the whole month at all. It’s not a dumping ground, but it sure does feel like there’s not a single likely breakout hit between here and May.
First up, though, a spot of nostalgia in the form of 1997’s Titanic, tastefully re-released in time for the disaster’s 100th anniversary, and even more tastefully re-worked in 3-D. In truth, I am a bit excited, mostly because I think James Cameron has too much invested in good 3-D to do a sloppy job with this one, and because the last time the film was on the big screen, I was too much sixteen years old and male to appreciate it they way it deserves to be appreciated.
After a nine-year gap, the fourth and I would imagine last movie in the American Pie series sees the light of day: American Reunion, which is undoubtedly the most intelligent and well-considered form that such a film could have possibly taken, though the question “why a fourth American Pie?” remains difficult to answer, given that the audience who grew up with the movies really isn’t the target for R-rated comedies any more. It’s a weird property to bathe in nostalgia, is all I’m saying, though as a fellow who had not, until this week, seen a single one of the original trilogy, I guess I’m better off not offering an opinion on the matter at all.
On the subject of raunchy 1990s comedies, the Farrelly Brothers still exist, and the best thing they could come up with to do with their time was The Three Stooges, which from my angle has the possibility of making the Worst of the Year shortlist. And speaking of nostalgia properties with no obvious audience: I cannot imagine that ’30s-style slapstick is on anybody’s radar who would be willing to pay money to see a modern-dress version of such, particularly one larded up with pop-culture jokes. Maybe I underestimate the ineffable draw of watching people poke other people in the eye, but if there is even one person alive who has been eagerly awaiting this movie, I would very much like to meet him. And I am pretty sure it would have to be a him.
More throwbacks: the long-shelved Joss Whedon-scripted and -produced The Cabin in the Woods, which is some kind of sci-fi parody of ’80s slashers, because it is 1997 and parodying slasher movies is still worth doing. Actually, it’s bound to be better than the film I have in my head based on a deliberately confounding, and possibly deliberately alienating trailer, particularly since it has received almost uniformly good reviews to this point. I am less than comforted by the fact that it’s the directorial debut of Drew Goddard, who is at best a hot-and-cold screenwriter, but it’s the month’s only horror movie, so one must make do.
Not a throwback, as such, though it feels like the script has been gathering dust since 1987: Lockout, in which Guy Pearce goes into space to fight space prisoners and save the president’s daughter from a space station in space. I pray to God it’s as hokey as the concept sounds, and not as leaden as the trailer looks.
A vanilla ice cream sandwich on Wonder Bread if ever I heard of one, The Lucky One is a Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring Zac Efron, and I want you all to know that I fell asleep three times just thinking about writing that sentence. The good news is that it also stars Taylor Schilling, who played Drangy Tigger in Atlas Shrugged: Part I, and if her performance here is twice as good as her performance there, it will still be one of the most hilariously bad things of 2012. Are they still making an Atlas Shrugged: Part II? Because I will be at the fucking midnight screening for that sonfoabitch.
Otherwise: Disney has a new nature documentary, Chimpanzee, which looks so manipulative, I want to punch my own face off, and Think Like a Man is 2012’s second voyage into the classic genre of “over-talented black actors propping up a lazy, clichéd dramedy script because it’s the only leading role anyone will give them”, with Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, and Romany Malco being the three over-talented black actors in particular that I am looking forward to sighing over and writing hundreds of words about how much I wish they could get an actual major film that used them in a remotely interesting way.
And then, just like that, four whole movies that I want to see, though not for equally sound reasons. For example, Safe is going to be absolutely, irredeemably awful, and I’ll hate it, but it has Jason Statham, so whatever gypsy curse made me want to see every Jason Statham film is already tingling.
But there’s some actual goodness on the horizon, too: The Five-Year Engagement has, to my tastes, the funniest comedy trailer presently in circulation, and it does look as though Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are going to have crackerjack chemistry between them. And The Pirates! Band of Misfits, thought it suffers from an achingly terrible title, is an Aardman Animation project in glorious stop-motion, and rabid dogs wouldn’t be enough to keep me away from that.
The big wild card, to me, is The Raven, in which John Cusack plays Edger Allan Poe chasing a serial killer, and the whole thing could be too shlocky for words; but on the other hand, filmmakers going nuts with Poe and “The Raven” is a tradition that stretches back over one-hundred years now, all the way to D.W. Griffith’s 1909 Edgar Allen Poe, and it’s sort of hard not to turn into a collector of movies titled The Raven, which occupy nearly every subdivision of horror, suspense, and thriller that you could imagine, and whatever else is true, the Cusack film is highly unlikely to be one of the worst of them.