Did you have a great summer? You did if you are the Summer Blockbuster Season! (Which you are not. The Summer Blockbuster Season is an abstract concept and as such cannot read Internet columns.) We moviegoers had a decent summer too, especially if you measure in decibels.
As usual, and as mandated by a Hollywood city ordinance, summer began six weeks before the beginning of summer with a movie based on a comic book. “Thor” stretched the definition of the word “superhero” to include extra-terrestrial mythological Vikings. Later, the genre would be further tested by Captain America, a steroid-enhanced weakling who fights the Nazis through the power of song and dance; and the Green Lantern, a self-absorbed jerk who gets a magic ring with unlimited powers from a dying alien and uses it to bore people, which is also the story of Rupert Murdoch.
Many of yesteryear’s most beloved cartoon characters resurfaced this summer. All of them were in “Winnie the Pooh,” though. The soulless aberrations from “Cars” and the cloying pestilence known as the Smurfs also had movies, but only against the wishes of mankind and a direct injunction from the United Nations. Oh, and there was “Kung Fu Panda 2,” in which an overweight nuisance provides the voice of a panda.
Speaking of children’s films, the people who loved the first two “Transformers” movies were rewarded by being permitted to leave their continuation schools and group homes long enough to see the third one, “Dark of the Moon,” which told the thrilling story of a self-absorbed jerk who gets an unlimited budget from a dying movie studio and uses it to bore people.
3D was huge this summer, easily the most popular new gimmick in moviegoing since they invented the Girl Who Sits Behind You and Keeps Asking Her Boyfriend to Explain Things. Thanks to the wonders of 3D technology, audiences were able to see movies as they’d never seen them before: with dim, bleary pictures, and for fifteen dollars. Some viewers sought to replicate the 3D experience in their own homes by wearing dark sunglasses and hitting themselves in the head with a hammer, whereupon they were sued by the MPAA for piracy.
Speaking of piracy, Captain Jack Sparrow returned for the sixth or seventh time in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Something Something,” a delightful romp showing that while pirates are mostly known as thieves, rapists, and murderers, they are also alcoholics. Strong drink also figured prominently in “The Hangover Part II,” as well as in whatever boardroom “Larry Crowne” got the green light in.
Interesting trivia fact: A fourth “Spy Kids” movie came out this summer! Really!
It was a big season for primates: the chimp in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the gorilla in “Zookeeper,” Kevin James in “Zookeeper,” etc. Creatures from other planets were popular, too, with “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Super 8,” and “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.” And poop! Don’t forget poop! Like Gary Busey after a holiday weekend, the summer was practically dripping with feces! We saw it squirted from cloacas in “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” expelled from babies’ recta in “The Change-Up,” and used as a weapon of revenge in “The Help.” Thanks to the upsurge in popularity for this once-obscure bodily function, people all over America began producing their own bowel movements.
Does it seem like all the movies were meant for guys? Well, quit your complaining, ladies, because you got TWO movies this summer! “Bridesmaids” and “Something Borrowed” were both aimed at you, and they both conveyed the message that your gender is shallow and terrible. YOU’RE WELCOME.
But the hottest trend at the box office this summer was nostalgia. When it comes to modern, state-of-the-art entertainment, we love nothing more than being reminded of things we already saw! “Super 8” was a love letter to the films of Steven Spielberg — his early films, mainly, but with an homage to his more recent work in the form of a botched ending. “Midnight in Paris” was Woody Allen’s love letter to the early films of Woody Allen, and also to the halcyon era of 1920s Paris, when an elderly man could marry his adopted daughter with impunity. There were also big-budget remakes of “Fright Night,” “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and “Conan the Barbarian,” the latter with Jason Momoa in the role made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jason Momoa and I actually have something in common, in that a year from now we both won’t be movie stars.
Sadly, the summer blockbuster season is over now, and we find ourselves navigating the treacherous waters of the Oscar-bait season. The threat of being forced to contemplate a weighty subject or to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman cry has moviegoers on high alert. But we will always remember the joyful films we watched these past few months — at least until next May, when we start watching their sequels.