Cinematic Brain Freeze

Summer is in full swing and so are the big movies.

Already a front-runner for the year, Avengers has made box office history, breaking records in both dexterous and sinister fashions. It’s one of the few movies that will guarantee itself five sequels, with each of the principals getting his or her own movie.

Granted, they’re continuing named franchises, but what were Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America if not just appetizers for the main event?

It’s summertime, which means things at the box office are about to get C-R-A-Z-Y. Who would have expected Avengers to break the $200 million budget barrier? Well, besides me, I mean.

And June is going to be full of movies that have built expectations to a height that one could reasonably call stratospheric. Snow White and the Huntsman! Ridley Scott’s new Alien “¦ er “¦ Prometheus movie! A new Pixar movie! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!!!

People complain that Hollywood isn’t original these days. I know I’ve said it a few times. That, however, is a misleading idea.

[pullquote]While inexcusable as a movie-rating system, this is the kind of approval that should be restricted to teachers who normally litter papers with terms like “potential” or “unsettling.” [/pullquote]

The movie industry has never been wholly original. But when it’s summertime, I don’t really care. Give me a bucket of popcorn and a drink bigger than my bladder, and fill the void in front of me with green monsters in purple pants, unsuspecting astronauts falling into the deadly maw of alien civilizations, and yes, presidents killing vampires, and I will be pleased as punch.

Summertime is a time to turn off certain parts of your brain to enjoy a big movie. That doesn’t mean that the movies don’t have to make sense; it’s just that they don’t have to make as much sense. I love summer.

By the way, we’re Louisiana. Why don’t we have crawfish at our movie theaters? Who do I need to talk to about this? There’s gotta be some cross-pollination that needs to happen here.

And my friend Robert Rau had this to say to those who choose ratings for motion pictures:

This Is Rated PG-13 for Thematic Discussion

Movie ratings are proven to influence how studios handle distribution of their movies. They prefer to concentrate their advertising on the big-budgeted PG-13 release while discontinuing the toy line for an NC-17 movie (unless you want the products sold at Hearts on Airline).

But when the MPAA started to make these rulings, someone must have demanded to see the reason for the rating. This led to the MPAA descriptions for all theatrically released films, and for the purposes of this article, a healthy use of complete nonsense to make movie-rating jobs seem important.

Not all details are useless, because kids do not want Midnight Cowboy to be their first X-rated movie experience, but some of these descriptions can be just plan silly.

No one needs to know “a smoking caterpillar” weighed heavily on Alice in Wonderland‘s PG rating, especially when the easy money should have been on Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Carrot Top on meth.

The same can be said for Twister‘s PG-13 for “intense depiction of very bad weather,” which only foreshadowed the wild and wonderful things the wind was going to do to Bill Paxton’s hairline.

Worse are the ones that are secretly complimentary, like when films get rewarded with “intense action sequences” or “outrageous gore.” Way to seem objective, ratings board. While inexcusable as a movie-rating system, this is the kind of approval that should be restricted to teachers who normally litter papers with terms like “potential” or “unsettling.”

So, for future ratings, please limit your descriptions to the following:

1. Ratio of action to long, boring talks: By the trailer alone, we know Hulk will smash, but still are clueless as to whether Hulk folds arms in a conference room while waiting for his turn to speak.

2. Is there anything after the credits: Since a small theater soda is three times the size of the human bladder, those are precious moments spent waiting to find out if the Dark Knight has a celebratory Thai dinner with Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon.

3. Who gets naked: The more details, the better, and feel free to include links to Mr. Skin if it’s Natalie Portman.

Follow these rules and go to bed knowing your job is done protecting the world from the filth and depravity on the screen.

Now get to work on baby mufflers for movies after 9 p.m.


Thanks, Robert. For the rest of you, I’ll see you in a month, when it’ll be all hot dogs and fireworks!

And by then, I will hopefully get my copy of Bâton Rouge in the mail. Damn you, eBay!!

About James Brown

James Brown
James Brown is not related, affiliated, or representative to or of the estate of the Godfather of Soul. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

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