Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I just did a count and, one day late last month, I saw my 800th movie at Willow Creek Theaters in Plymouth. 800! Wow! And you thought I couldn't commit to anything.

Well, I loves me my visual entertainment and for eight years, 1999-2007, I literally lived across the parking lot from Willow Creek. Convenience has been a big factor in my continuing attendence. And it's a decent theater - clean, well maintained, comfortable seats, employees old enough to shave. Did I mention convenient location? One block away from work and about a mile from my current home.

But still, 800. That's a lot. I wonder if anyone else patronizes the establishment as often? Possibly. Funny thing, in the 16 years since I first went to a movie there, those 800 moves are less than half of my total viewings (47%ish). Of course, I lived in Georgia and Florida for three and a half of those 16 years, so that skews the stats a bit. For the last 10 years, though, I've seen 757 movies at Willow Creek; about 1.5 per week. That really doesn't sound like a lot on a day-to-day basis.

Despite the impressive attendence figure, I have got to be one of Willow Creek's worst customers. I almost always hit a matinee showing, which is about 2/3rds the cost of an evening ticket. I almost never stop at the concession stand. In fact, of the 1054 movies I've seen at all theaters in the last ten years, I stopped at the concession stand exactly 15 times. Five of those times were at the old Oak Street revival theater. I figured that if they were going to show me The Producers, Ghostbusters and Caddyshack for only $2 each, I should buy some high-markup popcorn from them. I don't feel the same about first-run theaters charging $6.50 for a matinee ticket.

I mentioned before that I think Willow Creek could make me a good customer by giving me an unlimited pass under the condition that I buy the equivalent of the ticket price's value in food or drink. It's the same out-of-pocket for me but moves their revenue from the low-profit box office to the high-profit concession stand. It's still fraud, but I can live with it.

800. All right. Arbitrary milestone acknowledged. Moving on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Get Him to the Greek

I was expecting a farce or maybe a road comedy but Get Him to the Greek was a misfire. A schlubby record industry drone is sent to London to escort a drug-addled rock star back to the States for a concert. A lot of stuff happens; some funny; most not. The rock star character, played by Russell Brand, was in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall and was a good part of that movie. He should stay as a supporting character.

The drone was played by Jonah Hill, whose breakout was in Superbad, which, coincidentally, I rewatched last week. Superbad sucked the second time around and much of it was because Hill played a whinyboy you just wanted to slap. The fun of Superbad was not knowing where it was going, so I don't blame Hill for playing a character that doesn't hold up but, like Brand, in 2010, he's not up to carrying a movie. And don't get me started on Sean Combs as the record company owner. He sucked the life out of every scene he was in and he had more than a cameo.

Get him to the Greek and get me to a better movie.


Robin Hood

Having rewatched Gladiator in March of last year, I was stricken by how similar Robin Hood was to Gladiator. Including star Russell Crowe, director Ridley Scott, and being set in the European dark ages, it's the same movie: professional soldier shows bravery; gets the shaft; just wants to be left alone; gets dragged into someone else's problems; shows up the King; blah; blah; blah. A technically well done movie, Robin Hood doesn't really serve a purpose - it's not historically accurate, it's not a great thriller, it's not a great swashbuckler; it's not a great romance; the comic relief is more silly than funny; and it's half an hour too long. I wouldn't even bother renting it.

I, do, however, recommmend searching out When Things Were Rotten, a Robin Hood comedy that ran for a few months on ABC in the mid-70s. It was produced by Mel Brooks and made about the same time that Brooks made Blazing Saddles and feels very similar. Need I say more?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Knight and Day

I have a general expectation of an inverse relationship between hype and quality. That is, the more a movie is promoted, the less good it will be. For the last couple of of months, I've been seeing all kinds of promotion for Knight and Day. I avoid commercials and don't watch entertainment news programs, so I don't see a lot of hype. For me to have seen promos for Knight and Day, there must have been a ton of them.

By all rights, or at least my expectations, this movie should have sucked.

It didn't.

Knight and Day is not a great movie, but it's a good one. It's actually kind of small - no saving the world or anything, just spycraft and car chases. It's really a good companion-piece for the recent Killers, as both have minimal plot and rely on the leads to provide chemistry. Knight and Day does that in spades, with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz chewing the scenery and essentially showing us why they are bankable movie stars.

At the beginning of the third half, I got the feeling that the film-makers were fatigued, as they hit the CGI shop pretty hard. Among other shortcuts, they had Cruise and Diaz running with CGI bulls in Seville. They even had obvious CGI cars in the car chases there, although I suppose rigging stunts in a historic town like Seville would have been prohibitive. Still, a computer generated car being gored by a computer generated bull while pursuing a computer generated motorcycle that ducks between two computer generated trains seems more like a video game than a movie.

Like I said, Knight and Day is a good but small movie, more of a romantic comedy than a thriller. One final note - I never figured out the title. The 'and' implies that Cruise and Diaz are the Knight and the Day, of course. He has a connection to Knight, which is fine, but I never saw anything to make her be the 'Day.'  There is a little dialog about not waiting for 'someday,' but that's not the same as 'Day' in my book.  Either I missed something in the movie, or they tacked a focus-group inspired title onto this little movie. Statistically approved hype, I guess.