I’m excited – I really am – for this month. Typically, the last month of summer is a dumping ground, where all the movies not good enough to get legitimate releases mingle with the movies too perplexingly un-commercial to get legitimate releases; and in this respect, 2010 looks no different. But as miserable as May, June, and July mostly were, the promise of flat-out trash holds a not-so-insignificant appeal. The next four weeks of movies might not be good, but they out to be lively.
And it takes all of four syllables to kick things off: Step Up 3D. All joking aside, I am indecently excited for this movie. Not because I particularly liked Step Up or Step Up 2 The Streets (though the latter has an exquisitely bad title), but because: street dancing + undoubtedly gimmicky 3-D. What’s not going to be irresistibly cheesy, I ask you?
Its only wide release competition comes in the form of Will Ferrell and his regular director Adam McKay and The Other Guys, which I presume will be an unfunny hit comedy in which Ferrell shouts things in that obnoxious braying tone from which he has been mining cash these last few years. Oh, and Mark Wahlberg is trapped in this thing? Christ. Still, it’s bound to surpass Cop Out to become the not-worst buddy cop movie of 2010.
The limited release schedule is powerful difficult to suss out in terms of what will be where, but it at least seems that Joel Batnipples Schumacher’s teen crime drama Twelve will be getting play outside of New York and Los Angeles (it was bumped from last week). I will leave it to you what to do with this information.
For the first time since early June, an actual fight for the top-grossing new release, between three wildly different movies: Eat Pray Love, in which a spoiled rich white woman learns how to appreciate life through conspicuous consumption; The Expendables, an action-star-o-rama that feels like a creaky, loathsome old holdout from 1987 – or, I’m sorry, were you looking forward to the triumphant return of Dolph Lundgren to the big screen? – and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which…
I am apparently rare in being terrified by this project. On the plus side: Edgar Wright, rock-solid source material. On the negative side: Wright’s reputation lies entirely on three parodies that were also really great examples of the form they were parodying – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the Don’t trailer from Grindhouse – and the show Spaced is pretty great, but it’s writing-driven, and he didn’t write it – but Scott Pilgrim is unlikely to fall anywhere near that description. Besides, I don’t think any of us really know how much of those two features was Wright and how much was Simon Pegg, who, it can’t be stressed enough, isn’t in Scott Pilgrim. Also, Michael Cera has entirely worn out his welcome, and the rock-solid source material is so formally rigorous, I can’t imagine how it could possible make the jump from comic book to movie. Am I prepared to be wrong? Of course, but not as much as I am prepared to be disappointed.
Hey, so remember how I was excited for the trashy 3-D-ness of Step Up 3D? Take that feeling and double it, and you’ve got Piranha 3D, which has the kind of title to send a shiver of contented pleasure up your spine. If you, like me, enjoy campy trainwrecks that may or may not be intentional. Besides, given 3-D that is serious and subtle, or gaudy and overt and stupid, I am definitely only interested in the latter going forward. And we get two in one month!
Elsewhere, and not exciting at all save as proof that August is the slowest month of the year: Nanny McPhee Returns, in which Nanny McPhee visits a new family, and thus is not “returning” at all (the title was changed for the U.S.), plus The Switch, a comedy in which Jennifer Aniston + Jason Bateman + donor sperm = hi-larious, plus Lottery Ticket, whose crappy, tossed-off release date could not possibly scream in a more obvious, pandering way, “Oh, right, black people – here you go! A summer movie for you too!” Though I guess I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone; it took me till this moment to realise that there has only been one major film with a minority lead all summer, June’s The Karate Kid. And Just Wright, if we ignore the “major” part of what I just said. The worst part is that three in one season represents a kind of broken “progressiveness” for Hollywood.
The last breath of the summer movie season isn’t for another week, but it still seems like this weekend is a perfect microcosm of what sucks about cinema’s off-months: a droopy romantic comedy in Going the Distance (Drew Barrymore and Justin Long? Man, that seems like a terrible pairing), an action-type heist movie populated by a bunch of people who aren’t quite famous in Takers, and a movie called The Last Exorcism, which is one of those titles that should have you cradling your head in your hands the instant you hear it.