By Abbey Prentice (Writer of Deliberations of a Domestic Diva)
I’m a movie fanatic. Comedies, dramas, documentaries, I love it all.
But for quite some time now I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend. Hollywood has gotten, for lack of a better word, lazy. The movie industry is becoming less and less creative and no one even cares. And it shows.
Practically everything these days is a remake of a classic, in hopes of marketing the same story to a new generation, otherwise known as utilizing a billion dollar budget on a stale story performed by sub-par actors. Everything from The Karate Kid, to Footloose, to 21 Jump Street have been remade over the last couple of years, and they never hold a candle to the originals (Replacing Ralph Macchio with Jayden Smith?! OH the humanity!). It recently made news that Michael Bay took on the project of remaking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which put him squarely in the number one spot on my hit list as I have no doubt that he will take a classic staple of my childhood and turn it into nothing more than creepy CGI turtles blowing shit up. I honestly cringe at the thought of all of the great movies that will someday be remade into limp reproductions of the amazing originals. I’ll put it this way, if Michael Bay (or anyone else for that matter) decides to redo “The Breakfast Club”, I might never watch another movie again as long as I live.
There’s also been an increased interest in making books into movies, though this has been, for the most part, considerably more successful than the remakes. 2011’s ‘The Help’ was, in my opinion, one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen in awhile and it managed to pull in a respectable 169 million dollars domestically. This, of course, is a small number compared to the hype-machines that are Twilight (‘Eclipse’ was it’s highest grosser, bringing in 300 million domestically) and The Hunger Games (393 million domestically and still going strong in a dollar theater near you), which honestly may have been one of the worst book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen (Come on! They didn’t even explain the rules of the games! I adored the books, but I’m sorry, the movie broke my literary heart and I could probably go on about my disappointment forever. Don’t worry, I won’t). But book adaptations, no matter how successful they are or aren’t, still seem like a bit of a cop out to me. When you begin with a book, the story has already been written for you and there’s usually a decent following so just add a spoonful of hype and a dash of Zac Efron and you have a recipe for a successful movie, insofar as “successful” means teenage girls will flock to it and it will make a respectable amount of money.
Hollywood’s third and final tool to avoid doing any actual work is the wide wonderful world of sequels. Despite the fact that it’s been ten years since Men In Black 2, they’re back with Men In Black 3. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m guessing it involves gooey, creepy looking space creatures, erasing memories, and clever Will Smith one-liners, much like its predecessors. Okay fine, I’ll probably see it, but only because I’m a child of the 90s and therefore can’t resist the temptation of spending a couple of hours with Will Smith (what IS it about that guy??). With the upcoming releases of Ice Age 4 and Madagascar 3, it’s obvious that creatively, Hollywood isn’t doing much better in the kid’s department. In other words, when in doubt, just continue with a story that you already know people like and will pay to go see. Success!
Maybe I’m just cynical, but when you take all these things and couple them with the fact that a movie costs around $12 per person unless you go before 2 PM, it doesn’t exactly make me want to sprint to the movie theater for just anything. A worthwhile movie needs a well-written plot, decent actors, nice cinematography or at the very least, a shirtless Bradley Cooper. Not to mention the fact that for us, actually getting out and going to a movie is a rare date night and involves finding a baby sitter and engaging in beauty regiments that don’t involve sticking my wet hair out of a car window and letting nature do all the work. So it has to be worth it and frankly these days it’s usually not.
If I sound bitter, it’s only because I am. I remember the good old days when I anxiously bit my nails throughout the Oscars because I wanted all of the movies to win, as opposed to these days when I either a) Have never even heard of the nominated movie or b) Have no desire to watch the nominated movie. I miss going to a movie and wishing I could immediately watch it all over again as soon as it ends. I miss the days when a trip to Redbox didn’t feel like a tedious chore of sifting through hundreds of straight-to-DVD choices before I realize that I am wasting my time. Most of all, I miss the days of not sounding like a 90 year-old reminiscing about the “good old days” when it comes to film. I just miss the excitement of a great movie, one that doesn’t need to be the top story on every talk show to convince me I want to go see it. I just want to see something that lives up to the expectations I have for it. I want to see something that isn’t a slightly different version of a movie I’ve already seen, a crappy adaptation, or yet another sequel. I want to be impressed. Actually, I just want to see something that doesn’t suck.
Come on Hollywood, is that so much to ask?