It’s autumn now, which means the air will soon be filled with the crisp scent of fresh-baked holiday pies, and the streets littered with the carcasses of dead leaves, decomposing before our eyes.
Speaking of death, autumn is a good time to re-cap the big summer blockbuster movies, and to figure out, if possible, why most of them sucked so bad.
The most-anticipated event of the year — possibly in all of movie history — was of course The Moment When All the People Waiting in Line for a Month to see “Star Wars” Finally Showered. The movie itself was a bit of a let-down, especially for original Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill, who couldn’t get a night off from his job at the Des Moines Arby’s to see it until it had been playing nearly a month.
One group that was not disappointed in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” were the people who are big fans of unfunny, offensive racial-stereotype characters, for whom Jar Jar Binks has now replaced Buckwheat as their hero.
Another film for which many had high expectations was “Wild Wild West,” based on a TV show no one watched and no one remembers. In the film version, Will Smith and Kevin Kline travel around the country demeaning women and discussing the fact that Will Smith is black. It was the director’s goal to include in every scene at least one element of woman-belittlement and at least one mention of Will Smith’s race. Alas, that’s ALL the movie contained, the screenplay having apparently been written by trained owls who pecked at computer keyboards until a sufficient number of letters had been typed.
Another disappointing movie was “The Haunting,” in which Catherine Zeta-Jones spends the entire film not being naked. She was also in “Entrapment,” acting as co-star and love interest to Sean Connery’s corpse.
One movie that was actually very good was “The Sixth Sense,” starring Bruce Willis and that kid from “The Sixth Sense.” In this film, the kid has a supernatural power — a “sixth sense,” if you will — that enables him to tell, without even looking, that Bruce Willis is a bad actor.
Speaking of movies that scare you and make you want to crawl under the covers and hide from all the evil in the world, there was Julia Roberts in “Runaway Bride.” She was also in “Notting Hill.” In both movies, she plays a huge-mouthed woman who threatens to devour an entire community with her huge mouth.
And of course, don’t forget “The Blair Witch Project,” a low-budget movie about amateur filmmakers who are terrorized in the woods by nothing. Eventually, they get killed, also by nothing. Some people were bothered that we never got to see what was killing the kids; me, I didn’t care. As long as they get killed, that was the important thing.
This film is a good psychological thriller, as it shows us what normal college students would do if they ever got lost in the woods: They would swear a lot, and eventually die. I find this encouraging. I’ll see you at the movies.
Light, breezy and quick: That's what this column is. I enjoyed writing it, partly because I spent my entire summer sitting in movie theaters. It became part of my job at The Daily Herald to see pretty much everything, in order to review it, and also to warn the citizens of Utah County which movies had swear words in them. I loved seeing all those free movies, even the lousy ones; this was my chance to say how I REALLY felt about some of them -- points I couldn't make in the reviews because they were irrelevant or petty.
One person who did not find this column amusing was one Eric Schultz of Payson, who wrote the following letter to the editor, which I have reproduced here exactly as he submitted it:
Dear Editor, I was scrolling the front section of the herald, as I always do, and came across Eric Snider's column. As I read it, it seemed more like a bash column than anything. How did Mr Snider even get to be a movie critic? First of all, he takes at shot at mark Hamill, saying he works at the Des Moines Arbys. I think Mr Snider speaks from experience, I could've sworn he was the one who messed up my order at Dairy Queen last week. [Har!] As for calling Jar Jar Binks racially offensive, I myself know of at least ten different alien friends of mine who were offended, since that's the only race I could remember Jar Jar being. As I read on, he remarks that The Haunting was disappointing because "Catherine Zeta Jones spends the entire movie not naked." I don't know about everyone else, but I don't go to movies hoping to catch a glimpse of some actress naked, especially if I were a critic. Is that what they pay you for, Mr Snider? Then he goes on to rip Julia Roberts saying she has a big mouth. She may have wide lips, but I don't think she or anyone else for that matter, cares about what you think about an actress' appearance. [Then why are YOU so worked up about it?] You were probably disappointed that she spent the entire movie not naked. In closing, maybe you should watch the movie objectively Mr Snider, instead of thinking of something clever to say. Eric Schultz
Obviously, Eric Schultz has not read any of my actual reviews, or else he would see that I tend to be pretty objective and fair, and that in fact I gave most of the movies mentioned in the column favorable reviews. The jokes I made here were just for fun -- like I said, venting the petty things that stick in my mind but that aren't worth mentioning in an actual review.