Summer Good, Summer Not

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All right, movie fans! Now that summer has melted away to the slightly less-hot season of September, it’s time to recap all the summer blockbusters that Hollywood churned out and crammed down our collective throat this year like so much churned, crammed butter.

More than ever, it was difficult this year to tell when summer really began for movies. “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed” was very loud and very pointless — criteria for a summer blockbuster — but it came out in March. Then there was The Rock, walking around smashing things in “Walking Tall: Walking Around Smashing Things,” but that was in April. Also in April were “Hellboy,” about a huge red aberration with horns on his head (working title: “The Bill O’Reilly Story”), and “The Alamo,” depicting what was apparently the dullest war in the history of mankind.

But for real summer-blockbuster juiciness, we had to wait until the sweltering, mid-summer month of May. That’s when we got “Van Helsing,” in which the famed vampire hunter associates with a pantheon of famed creatures such as Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, Mr. Hyde and Bill O’Reilly. The film was generated entirely by computers, without human intervention, except for the occasional real actor who was pasted in with Photoshop.

A few minutes later, we had to watch “Troy,” a stirring biopic of noted celebrity Troy McClure, who you may remember from such summer blockbusters as “Pansies Save the Earth” and “Operation: Spider Monkey.” “Troy” turned out to be about what was apparently the most naked war in the history of mankind.

But there was precious little time to bemoan our fate, or the fate of the Trojans (tee-hee! Trojans!), because only two weeks later, we watched “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which the Earth gets covered in ice!!!!!! Well, New York, anyway. But that’s the only part of the Earth that matters. “The Day After Tomorrow” depicted a huge disaster, but not nearly as devastating as the one depicted in “The Box Office Receipts for ‘The Day After Tomorrow.'”

Will Smith, who has owned the Fourth of July weekend every year since 1996, with the exception of 1998-2003 inclusive, continued his streak with “I, Robot,” which by coincidence is also the name of an Isaac Asimov book. More faithful to its subject matter was “Garfield: The Movie,” which managed to capture the obvious, moronic humor and artistic bankruptcy of the “Garfield” comic strip, which is currently being written and drawn entirely by computers, without human intervention.

It wouldn’t be summertime in the ’00s without two or three dozen comic-book adaptations, and 2004 had plenty. The two highest-profile ones were “Spider-Man 2” and “Catwoman.” One featured a campy hero in tight-fitting clothing who appealed to gay men, while the other featured a campy hero in tight-fitting clothing who appealed to gay men AND lesbians. “Spider-Man 2” was hailed for its humanity and universal themes, serving as a cautionary tale against the dangers of attaching mechanical arms to your spine as a means of creating fusion. “Catwoman,” meanwhile, sucked.

But it wasn’t all fun and games at the movies this summer. There were documentaries, too, including one that addressed the devastating effects of leaders who put their own agendas ahead of the common good. I refer of course to “The Village.” This documentary even had a surprise ending: It turns out Bruce Willis wasn’t even IN the movie!

The summer ended with monsters attacking humans in “Alien Vs. Predator” and “Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid,” which I think you’ll agree is how the summer SHOULD end. And speaking of endings, here doesn’t come a good one.

Heavens, I do enjoy writing the summer movie roundups. A search through the ol' archives shows I haven't done one since 2001, but I used to do them somewhat regularly. I wonder why I stopped. Probably The Man's fault.

Why choose Bill O'Reilly as my whipping boy in this column? Why not! Honestly, I have no idea why he got the role. Could have been anyone who's argumentative and difficult, I suppose.

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