The Summer of Our Discontent

Summer is over now, so those brains you left at the door when you went to the movies back in May? You’ll want to pick those up again. Better hope you still have your claim check!

Ah, summer! The time when Hollywood excretes its most fragrant piles of entertainment, discharging them into theaters so that we may buzz around them and extract their nutrients. Summer! The season with the hottest, sweatiest movies, the kind of movies that when they stand up the backs of their legs stick to the sofa.

Hollywood disgorged well over 15,000 movies this summer, and while we can’t recap all of them, we can certainly not even really try very hard. Behold: the summer blockbuster roundup.

The summer began way the helen back in May, when “Mission: Impossible: III: The Most Impossiblest Mission” took theaters by storm, the type of storm in this case being a mild rainfall. It starred Tom Cruise as a man with a secret lifestyle that he keeps hidden from his petite, dark-haired fiancee. But before you draw any smart-aleck parallels to Mr. Cruise’s real life, let me point out that Katie Holmes is not all that petite.

America barely had time to recover from not going to see that movie before another one barged into cineplexes and began demanding to be ignored. It was “Poseidon,” in which a cruise ship turns upside-down and passengers have to go UP to get to the BOTTOM of the boat! Crazy, I know! Alas, the movie flopped, for as much as most of us like watching people drown, we have a hard time mustering the energy to care when the people are only fictional.

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

Speaking of drowning, Tom Hanks’ hair looked like a drowned rat in “The Da Vinci Code,” a thick, meaty slab of blockbuster entertainment that was noteworthy for taking itself completely seriously even though, if you read the script, you’d swear it was a comedy. “I need to get to a library — FAST!” declared Hanks in one exciting scene. And get to a library fast he did! Rarely has a film addressed the issue of library attendance as thrillingly as “The Da Vinci Code”!

But it wouldn’t be summertime without mosquito bites, sunburns and superhero movies, and “X-Men: The Last Straw” and “Superman Returns” were happy to provide one of those things. In “X-Men,” the mutants fought against the government’s “cure” for them, insisting there was nothing wrong with being a mutant. Everyone agrees with that sentiment in principle, though it’s hard to look at Garry Shandling and not think something should be done to fix him. In “Superman Returns,” [SPOILER ALERT] Superman returns. [END SPOILER]

Superman was not the only aging star in a funny costume who attempted to reconnect with audiences this summer. Meryl Streep was here, too, starring in “The Devil Wears Prada” opposite Anne Hathaway, who is best known to movie audiences as One of Those Women Hollywood Keeps Insisting are Beautiful Even Though They are Average at Best. “The Devil Wears Prada” was the surprise hit of the summer, making more than $120 million, or enough to buy three Prada dresses. Meryl Streep was also seen in “A Prairie Home Companion,” and by “seen” I mean “not seen,” because really, a prairie home what now?

But Meryl Streep wasn’t the only feminine, well-costumed anti-hero with too much makeup in theaters this summer. Johnny Depp was aboard, too, reprising his role as Capt. Jack Daniels in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Keira Knightley’s Chest.” The film made hundreds of millions of dollars, which the news media were compelled to refer to as “booty,” and even though real-life pirates were famous not just for plundering but for raping and maiming, the film soft-pedaled those latter elements, which is typical of liberal godless Hollywood.

Speaking of liberals, noted election non-winner Al Gore released a documentary called “An Inconvenient Truth,” a title that could have referred to so many things — there weren’t any WMDs; Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; President Bush still acts like a frat boy even though he is 60; etc. — but the one Gore chose was that global warming is scary. A lot of people drove their SUVs to air-conditioned movie theaters to watch Gore talk for 90 minutes about CO2 levels, and thenzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sorry, I dozed off there, and I have a special device attached to my head that tells my computer to type the letter “z” repeatedly whenever I fall asleep. It’s not a very useful device, but it was a gift from Stephen Hawking, so I feel like I should use it now and then. Anyway, what was I saying? Ah, yes. “Lady in the Water” was stupid.

The summer brought us some very serious movies, too. For example, there was the stirring drama about an act of terrorism and the heroes who fought to protect America. I refer of course to “Snakes on a Plane.” There was also “World Trade Center,” and nothing says “summertime fun” like a realistic, fact-based drama about America being attacked by jihadists (not Pat Robertson, the other ones).

And now the summer is over, with crisp, autumnal movies returning to the cinemas and superheroes retiring to their Fortresses of Solitude to hibernate until next May. But our memories of the summer blockbusters, with their deafening explosions, tortured logic and exposed breasts, will live forever in our hearts and eardrums.