It’s been said generation after generation: Our culture has no new ideas left. Whether you believe critics or not, it’s plain to see that movie studios have hit a creative slump. When a movie like Beverly Hills Chihuahua gets produced, you know movie makers are scrounging at the bottom of the barrel. That’s why this summer, most movies use the following three strategies, either producing movies we’ve already seen, don’t care to see, or might be good anyway.
Strategy #1: Give it a silly title.
Some Hollywood execs thought a killer strategy to market crappy summer movies is to give them ridiculous titles. First comes Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda, surprisingly about a panda who does kung fu, co-starring Oscar-winning actress and baby collector Angelina Jolie, out June 6. After that comes one that I will file in my “Adam Sandler lost it all after The Waterboy” Netflix queue, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.
Then we have Space Chimps, out July 18. Space Chimps is an Andy Samberg vehicle called Space Chimps, and therefore I refuse to research the plot for the health of my brain.
Out of the terrible translation category comes Bangkok Dangerous, starring Nicholas Cage, out August 22. Is Bangkok a qualifier here? Like, it’s not just dangerous, it’s “Bangkok Dangerous?” I really don’t want to know that level of danger in my life. Other goofy summer titles include Hamlet 2, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and the most ridiculous of all, College.
Strategy #2: Use tried-and-true comedic stars.
Aside from Jack Black, Adam Sandler, and Andy Samberg (if he counts), this summer’s movies feature Ben Stiller, Rainn Wilson, and a second Jack Black appearance. Using such bankable stars is a great way to ensure your summer movie will at least make some money. Or you could forget the funny guys and just grab Will Smith to open a July 4th weekend movie, like he’ll do with Hancock.
Most of these castings are right on track; if you think I won’t see a film starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Step Brothers, then you are sorely mistaken. But sometimes the name doesn’t necessarily equate good comedy — take Mike Myers’ The Love Guru, for example, which looks like it will offend every ethnic group on the planet and still not be funny.
Strategy #3: When in doubt, do a remake.
Hey, people liked The X-Files over ten years ago, right? Well then, they’d love a movie version now! This must have been the thought process when execs greenlit The X-Files: I Want To Believe, out June 20, without thinking that some in the coveted young adult demographic (like me) were not allowed to watch The X-Files on TV because of the scary aliens.
Movies in summer 2008 are suffering from remake fever, and include Get Smart, starring Steve Carrell in the film version of the 1960s spy-spoof TV show. Hollywood also adapted a musical to the screen by starring Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia!, a movie that you know your mom (and, okay, I) will see, not only because of ABBA, but because of the dreaminess of Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth.
So whether you want to see yet another Batman movie, see Dwight from The Office play a Rocker or even see some ne’er-do-well Space Chimps this summer, your popcorn flick of choice will come pre-packaged for your consuming pleasure. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, keep in mind your film won’t rake in the big bucks in the summertime without being at least somewhat formulaic. And that’s not always a bad thing — when it’s 95 degrees outside, sometimes you just need some mindless entertainment and air conditioning, and silly titles make us giggle. If this frustrates you, just wait until fall and winter — that’s when the Oscar bait starts rolling in.