First and foremost, I wanted to apologize to my mother for using the word "suck" in the headline. Then I remembered she'll never read this because she doesn't own a computer, or as she calls them, without an ounce of sarcasm - and I swear this is true - an "email machine."
But movies do suck in January and February, a time Hollywood commonly refers to as a "dumping ground" for films that don't match the high quality of movies released during the holidays like Old Dogs, 2012 and Did You Hear About the Morgans? Not to mention New Moon, a film about beautiful teenagers who would rather frown than fu...er, make love (That was for you, mom).
I wanted to find out why movie studios are so indifferent to the first two months of the year, so I decided to call a couple of studio executives. Then I realized, wait a minute, I don't know any executives, so instead I googled "January dumping ground movies" and learned what I suspect my non-existent sources would've told me.
The big December movies - Avatar, Up in the Air, Sherlock Holmes - all extend into January, so the studios are reluctant to compete with their own films. Also, the weather blows, as anyone who lives anywhere but L.A. can readily attest, so it's harder to get to theaters. And finally, there's Awards Season, which I've chosen to capitalize as if it's a real thing. A film released so early in the year could be forgotten when it's time to vote.
The thing is - all those points are utterly ridiculous. Big films are released week after week in the summer and somehow the good ones survive. It's called competition - it's the key to capitalism I'm told. Yeah, it's cold. Annnnd? People go to dinner in the cold, they take their kids to school in the cold, they walk their dogs, cheat on their taxes - all in the cold. They go to football games and basketball games. The Canadian ones go to hockey games. The good people of Hibbing, Minnesota can brave the elements and get to the Mann Hibbing Cinema 8 to see a movie. Furthermore, I'd like to point out it was also cold in December.
Finally, voters for the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Movie Awards (airing live January 15 at 9/8C on VH1) all managed to fight amnesia and nominate The Hurt Locker (released in June), 500 Days of Summer (July) and The Hangover (June). I'm thinking we can handle January and February.
So here's my little piece of advice for those studio execs who won't take my call (the call I never made). We're not idiots. We like good movies. We'll watch them in June, October, December and February. We will not collectively say, "Gladys, what do you want to do tonight?"
"Oh, I don't know, Morty. Do you want to go to the movies?"
"Are you fucking crazy, Gladys? It's January 24th. What's wrong with you?"
Well I went to the movies last Friday - three times to see three films "dumped" on audiences, though I concede, all three appeared to have a surprising amount of marketing money behind them.
1. Leap Year - This movie is being very poorly reviewed - 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't hate it, largely because I've been charmed by Amy Adams. With the exception of Julie and Julia, I just like her. And I like her co-star, Matthew Goode. I was rooting for them to get together, even though a 4-year-old child - and not some genius 4-year-old, but a regular one - would've known how it ends. Spoiler Alert: they end up together.
On another note, I'm no woman's show expert, but traipsing across Ireland on foot entirely in heels seems an impractical choice. Surely you have more comfortable shoes in that suitcase you're lugging around for the entire film. Overall, predictable and forgettable, but Amy Adams has me in her vortex. Grade: C+.
2. Daybreakers - It's a vampire movie with a surprisingly original concept, considering as a nation, we're pretty much vampired out. In the film it's 2019, 10 years after humans started turning into vampires. Now, only 5% of the human population remains and it's up to vampire scientist Ethan Hawke to come up with a synthetic blood substitute to replace their dependency on human blood. That's the part I don't care about. What's cool is that in this vampire world, everything happens at night. Everybody goes to work, gets stuck in traffic and picks up their dry cleaning under cover of darkness. Because it's a total drag to get caught out in the sun and burst into flames. Willem Dafoe plays a former vampire whose big business was retrofitting cars to block out the sun for day-time driving. Inventive. Grade: B-.
3. Youth in Revolt - Michael Cera plays a teenager desperate to have sex (thus making him ineligible for the Twilight movies). He soon discovers the key to making it happen with girls is embracing his bad-boy alter ego and acting like a jerk. So let me get this straight. Michael Cera plays an awkward teen who doesn't know how to act around girls? Honestly, we're way too hard on actors who play the same type of role over and over, but Michael Cera is pressing it (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Paper Heart). And he's only 21. Admittedly, he's got this role down pat - nobody plays Michael Cera like Michael Cera.
My main complaint about the film is really with these types of movies in general. Costume designers always put these teenaged boys who are awkward around girls in shirts from the Carter administration. I'm no fashion guru, but go to The Gap and buy a new t-shirt and some jeans. More girls will have sex with you. Grade: C-.