Friday, December 26, 2008

Would you pay to see this movie? The Tyler Perry conundrum.

Let's avoid any pretense and get to some disclosure. I'm a middle aged white writer. Tyler Perry is a black writer, actor, director and producer and legitimate entertainment mogul. Do I just not get it? Am I so removed from the world that Tyler Perry takes his inspiration from, that the material is beyond my appreciation? I'd like to think that movies, and entertainment in general, have that elusive universality that enables audiences across all backgrounds to simply appreciate great storytelling. I think I'm right. Tyler Perry's work leaves me wondering.
There is one thing I'm certain of. Positive in fact. That is that Tyler Perry has a massive ego. I'll give enough ground here to say that he's possibly just obsessed with establishing his identity as a brand name, but you have to admit he likes to see his name in print. LARGE print and above the title. What the hell, he's earned it. His productions have been, if not colossal, certainly steadily successful. He deserves his due and as a business man, I tip my hat.

And that leads me to wonder how and why. I have to say that after watching the trailer for The Family that Preys, earlier this year, I was impressed with everything except Tyler Perry. That is, his presence in the film, that at least by the footage in the trailer, seemed arbitrary and distracting. He's simply not as good an actor as the other actors he's smart enough to cast in the parts he writes. His name emblazoned above the title just seems to emphasize this oversight of ego. Get out of the movie, let the title carry your advertising and be content to read the end credits for your ego buzz. Just a thought.

But with that thought in mind, now comes the trailer for Tyler Perry's newest movie, Madea Goes to Jail ("new" as a relative term as this story has apparently already seen life as a stage play and a 2006 video release), and it jumps back to all of the things I don't get about Tyler Perry. Front and center is his character Madea. Aside from being in a complete fog about why black male actors seem obsessed with playing overweight, embarrassingly stereotypical and shamefully exaggerated black women (see Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and nearly all of Mr. Perry's headshot resumé), there's a mix of what looks like wildly broad comedy with serious social issues that seems as conflicted and schitzo as having Axel Foley look into a mirror to see Granny Klump staring back. The trailer for the upcoming Madea Goes to Jail seems entirely fractured and illogical. Even the poster seems to be taking itself too seriously. (That's the new poster up top, the one at the right is from the older and apparently obscure video.) 

But like I said, I may just not get it.

Do you? The trailer is embedded at Moviedozer .com and you can take a look by clicking anywhere in this sentence then scrolling down until you reach the trailer. Go watch, get a sense of what's going on, then click the link next to the trailer to return here and post an opinion. Let your fellow moviegoers know what you think and help us decide just what we might be missing about Tyler Perry. And just in case Mr. Perry himself should be reading, you can't be too upset. After all, we've just put your name in print 11 more times.

As for the rest of you, would you pay to see this movie? 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Day the Creative Process Stood Still

In 1951 a group of creative people did what creative people often do... they came up with a great story to tell and found a great way to tell it. That project was called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post all these years later should be seen as testament to the result of their commendable efforts.

A while ago, a group of people who call themselves creative, got together and decided that they had no stories to tell. Being that these people had access to simpleminded executives with lots of money and a movie studio, they did what most untalented people do who are still invited to Hollywood cocktail parties, they stole an old idea. This gang of hacks then recruited a group of actors who were sucked in by big paychecks and skilled ass-kissing and made a movie. That project is called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post is testament to the atrocious results of their efforts.

Let me make a declarative and indisputable statement. The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keeanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and (Will Smith's son) Jaden Smith (whose acting is never more impressive than a grade school play), sucks. To put an environmental spin on it... it blows harder than the worst catagory five a climate wracked planet could ever hope to spawn. There are so many things wrong with this film that the things that are least wrong were probably oversights. Which is to say, there's not a redeeming moment, a second of realism, an instant of sci-fi wonder, a clever effect, a smart line of dialogue, a meaningful plot device, an understandable course of action or a nano second when you don't wish you could get your money back.

This is bad, directionless, plotless moviemaking. No one should escape responsibility (or scorn) for achieving something even more meaningless than this past spring's bomb, Speed Racer and more useless than Mike Myer's debacle of a film project, The Love Guru.  If you have any familiarity with the 1951 original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, savor it. Don't go near a beam of light that flickers anything resembling an image from the remake. Don't, for God sake, skip the movie and get sucked into wasting a night on the rental. Instead, make a mental note that everyone who's name is somewhere on the print of this thing should now be considered suspect. They all deserve serious scrutiny, if not for the merits of their next project, then certainly for their willingness to accept pay without regard for foisting two hours of crap on a paying audience.

Nothing makes sense in the new The Day the Earth Stood Still. Before the alien, entrusted with preserving planetary survival, decides the human race is worth saving, (a decision he bases on one child crying about his dead father, before which the alien himself is responsible for a hard to keep track of body count), he unleashes a force that we watch indiscriminately destroy people and property (including, humorously for those of us in NJ, Giants Stadium). Then, realizing that humans have "another" side, he stops the destructive stuff and just leaves.

Not even a "sorry about that" as he exits, (in what has to be the worst spaceship ever conceived by a special effects department). So aside from being awful, the film is also despicable in its perverted effort to be timely and self-important.

By the way, one of the very finest elements of the original, the robot Gort, a pivotal and beautifully simple character that that film revolved around, is reduced in the remake to nothing more than a hi-tech doomsday device that even suffers the indignity of being named Gort again, but here by the scientists who reason the name from a convoluted acronym for Genetic Organic Robot Technology. (I think maybe Will Smith's son came up with that one and won a contest to appear in the film?)

Bottom line, skip it. Don't waste your time or money. There are just too many promising projects out there for the remainder of the year to be distracted by the worst that Hollywood can offer. We'll be focusing on those projects next at Moviedozer Dailies and hopefully we'll find ourselves recovered and in a far better mood.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Would you pay to see this movie?

We watch movie trailers every day and for the most part it's an easy call. "Yeah, we'll go see that." or "Who the hell would waste money on this piece of crap?" You get the idea. Usually things are pretty clean cut. To say we're opinionated about movies at is an exercise in stating the obvious.
But every now and then we run across a new release trailer that stumps us. Should we / shouldn't we? Not just peel out the bucks to see it, but should we bother to review it? Should we recommend it? Should we even mention it, thereby use our website to involuntarily promote it? Well, in that grand business tradition - when we can't decide and don't want to take the responsibility - we're passing the buck to YOU. 

It's simple. If you haven't just come from there, CLICK over to the Moviedozer website (use any of the links in this sentence) and check out the trailer. It will always be found toward the bottom of the Pulling Focus page just under the current Poster Gallery. Then simply click on the link next to the trailer to get back here.

Now it's time for you to decide. Would you pay to see this movie? Go ahead and click on the comment button below and have at it. We'll keep track and make recommendations based on the responses, and if we blow it - we'll blame you! How cool is that? Well, it is for us anyway. But if you follow the advice of your fellow opinionated trailer viewers you just might save ten bucks. (You have to promise to go out and spend the ten bucks somewhere else though - let's not forget that whole economic stimulus thing.)

So the first flick up is Anchor Bay Films' new release While She Was Out, starring Kim Basinger, Lukas Haas, Craig Sheffer and Jamie Star. Directed by Susan Montford, While She Was Out is being released on December 12th. Would you pay to see this movie?