Dumb and Summer


Summer is over, folks, which means it’s time to wipe three things: the sweat off your forehead, that smile off your face, and the images of Channing Tatum from your memory. This year’s crop of summer blockbusters was as potent and full-bodied as ever, with films covering a wide span of subjects ranging all the way from Marvel to DC, and drawing inspiration from such rich source materials as television shows, board games, and Seth MacFarlane’s bong. Whether you were the stars of “Twilight,” or just one of the hundreds of entertainment journalists assigned to write about the stars of “Twilight,” it’s safe to say you had a busy and deeply fulfilling summer.

Summer began in mid-spring, as usual, with “The Avengers,” a superhero movie with so many superheroes that they forgot to give some of them any super powers. “The Avengers” was a huge hit, thanks largely to the elaborate advertising campaign, which involved releasing two-hour commercials for the film every summer for the last five years. It was directed by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, who continued his pattern of showcasing strong female characters by casting Scarlett Johansson’s breasts in a key role.

“The Avengers” was not the only comic-book-based movie this summer, of course. What do you think this is, Soviet China?? We also got “The Dark Knight Rises,” the concluding chapter in Christopher Nolan’s dark trilogy about a mentally unstable fetishist billionaire who uses black-market weaponry to crush a political movement; and “The Amazing Spider-Man,” about a teenager who is bitten by a spider, develops super powers, and says, “Wait, didn’t this just happen to another guy? Am I crazy here? I swear I read about this somewhere.”

Spider-Man wasn’t the only thing that happened again even though it already happened. “Total Recall” was remade with Colin Farrell instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger and special effects instead of a story, much to the dismay of purists who hold the original “Total Recall” in high regard due to their having been 15 when they saw it.

But we’ve only been talking about big studio blockbusters. Were there any low-budget independent films making waves in cinemas? Yes, probably!

Snide Remarks summer wrap-up columns:
June 2001
August 2001

Anyway, for the kids there was “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and “Ice Age 4: Everybody’s Least Wanted.” These two animated franchises producing sequels within weeks of each other certainly did not help those of us who are always getting them mixed up. (We are almost positive they both feature penguins and Ray Romano.) Also for the kids, we got to see Pixar’s first female protagonist in the Scotland-set “Brave,” though the film was criticized for giving young viewers the impression that it’s OK to have red hair.

But summer blockbusters aren’t just for young actors! Well, OK, they are. But old people made some anyway, out of spite. For fans of Meryl Streep, there was “Hope Springs,” in which the talented actress demonstrated yet again that there is no role too difficult for her to tackle as she convincingly portrayed a human being who wants to have sex with Tommy Lee Jones. And for fans of creepy, waxy-skinned gargoyles with concussions, there was “The Expendables 2,” a delightful romp about a group of senior citizens who travel the world killing everyone they meet. The all-star cast included such familiar names as Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Lundgren, Van Damme, Activia, Ibuprofen, and Metamucil.

In sadder news, Whitney Houston, having been offered a deal by the devil wherein she could either drown in a hotel bathtub or do publicity for “Sparkle,” made the choice any of us would have made.

Do you like spaceships, alien creatures, and goo? Then I bet you wish you’d gone to the movies this summer, because the multiplexes were literally jam-packed with literally all of those things! For example, “Prometheus” told the exciting story of a trillion-dollar effort to send a ship full of idiots to another planet to be killed through their own stupidity. Though it was disguised as a frivolous sci-fi adventure, “Prometheus” asked many of life’s most important questions, such as: Where did humans come from? Will spaceships in the future all be equipped with automated abortion machines? When will this movie be over? Is it over yet? Why isn’t it over?

It’s possible to mix laughs with sci-fi, too, as demonstrated by “Men in Black 3,” which hilariously proposed the comedy premise of people wanting to see another “Men in Black” movie.

Speaking of unwanted things, Adam Sandler.

Summer is also a time for singing and dancing and just generally frolicking around like a lunatic. For people who are fans of both karaoke and ’80s rock music, allow me to recommend “Rock of Ages,” as well as electroshock treatment and prescription medication. “Step Up Revolution” showed that you can bring about political change with nothing more than street dancing, and that you can write a screenplay consisting entirely of stage directions. And “Magic Mike” proved that the only thing strippers need to do to be taken seriously is to refer to themselves as “dancers” and be men.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Labor Day signals the end of summer movies just as surely as “Dark Shadows” signals the end of Tim Burton. Soon our multiplexes will be filled with period pieces, historical epics, literary adaptations, and inspiring dramas in which serious obstacles are overcome by unattractive people. There’s probably one about a retarded guy who becomes a football coach, or something. Whatever happens this fall, we will always cherish our memories of the fun times we had this summer, and also “Battleship.”