Gee, I Hope So

H/T to Arthur.  But truly I hope they just keep pushing this stuff forever.  When cast and crew are always selected based on protected status it’s more or less guaranteed that no one will pay to see that work.  Then when someone finally provides actual entertainment the contrast will be startling.

Indiana Jones and the Last Straw

I wonder who got custody of Shia LaBeouf.

Disney Hemorrhaging Money on Woke Films – Everyone Astonished

So, let’s talk about something less depressing than the train wreck that is Western Civilization.  Let’s laugh at the misfortune of Hollywood.  And specifically let’s mock Disney and their putrid movies.  Look at this article and the underlying video.

The YouTube box office analyst known as Valliant Renegade laid out his argument in a recent video in which he estimated that many Disney blockbusters actually lost money or barely broke even during their theatrical runs despite the news media spinning them as hits.

They include Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Thor: Love and Thunder, Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3.

Two of the titles were outright bombs — Strange World and Lightyear — while two others are still in theaters, The Little Mermaid and Elemental.”

Now, admittedly, Disney has deep pockets.  They can absorb losses that would bankrupt smaller companies and move forward.  But let’s think for a moment about how they will analyze these problems and what their idea will be to address them.

They will see that these films include heaping doses of progressive girl power, gay themes and anti-white and anti-male bias and they will assume that the problem is too many racist and sexist Americans refusing to celebrate wokeness sufficiently.  After all, what parent wouldn’t want to send his kids to a movie with a gay kid as the main character?  Or why wouldn’t a Buzz Lightyear origin story benefit from a lesbian kiss?  Why would this make parents uncomfortable?

So, their solution to this rejection of woke content will be … doubling down on girl power, gay themes and anti-white and anti-male bias!  Now how could that possibly fail?

So, I’m incredibly happy for Disney.  This winning strategy may be able to do the impossible; namely bankrupt the largest remaining Hollywood studio.  And just to keep things hopping along comes the fifth Indiana Jones movie.  And from everything I’ve heard it’s going to be a humdinger.  Picture if you can an eighty-year-old Harrison Ford shuffling around the set getting hen-pecked and brow beaten by his “god-daughter” as she performs the heroic stunts and he gets lost in the caves and probably soils himself.  Oh yeah, that’s gonna be box office gold.

There is some word on the street that some of this is beginning to dawn on Disney’s front office and there might be a program to step back from the precipice of woke financial suicide.  But that wouldn’t be my favorite outcome.  I really hope they give us some more Captain Marvel and Rey Skywalker and She-Hulk and whatever trans-super-hero they currently have on the drawing board.  This is really good stuff.  It will reinforce to parents just how screwed up the role models that Disney pushes on their kids are.  It will dovetail with the gender dysphoria that seems to have magically exploded among the teen and pre-teen age groups that are Disney’s target audience.

So, yeah, I do hope that other studios start to return to healthier cinematic fare.  It’s high time that some of them figure out that there is an enormous domestic and international audience for healthy role models in the super-hero genre and in other genres too.  But for Disney I hope they never turn back.  If they crash and burn it would be a powerful lesson for the corporate world.  And it comes right at the point where conservative boycotts seem to be picking up steam.

What a wonderful coincidence.

Comic Book Movie Redux

Tonight, I continued my retreat from reality with another super-hero escapist film.  I turned on the 2002 version of Spider-Man with Tobey Maguire.  Now Spider-Man is one of the goofiest comic book characters.  Spider-human genetic mutations that render its victim enormously strong and able to shoot webs from his wrists that allow him to climb and swing from Manhattan skyscrapers is just about as absurd as anything imaginable.  But what you discover if you watch the film is that the movie has heart and despite the ridiculous premise and the even more ridiculous villains, it holds your interest and the characters are likable.

The plot as I said is ridiculous but it follows its own logic and the story arc is your basic quest by the young man to find his inner hero.  But this being a super-hero movie it has much more spectacular episodes than growing up, getting a job and winning the girl.  He has to defeat a super-villain who also happens to be his best friend’s genius scientist father.  Well, of course he is!

I’m not going to review this movie.  No one needs the plot of yet another Spider-Man movie.  What I’m trying to do is show that even something as silly as this movie can be a good movie.  But maybe the most important part of the movie is when it was made.  In 2002 it was still possible to make a movie where race and gender weren’t the defining characteristics for selecting cast and plot lines.  Peter Parker was still allowed to be a white kid from New York City and he could still have a crush on a good-looking white girl.  Currently there is a quota system in Hollywood and that combination of ethnic and sexual choices would violate the intersectional imperative.  Either Peter would have to be black or his love interest would have to be a boy.  And that’s just the way it is in 2023.

And that sums up the problem with Hollywood today.  They’ve eliminated fun from movies.  The new super-heroes have to be joyless women proving that they’re every bit as good as Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones only politically correct, incredibly smug and completely boring.

This has already been the undoing of the Star Wars franchise and from what I’m hearing it’s about to put the last nail in the coffin of the Indiana Jones saga.  And the Marvel Cinematic Universe is also being transformed.  When you eliminate Iron Man and Captain America and replace them with Captain Marvel and whatever other screechy girl characters they dream up like She-Hulk or Thor-ette it goes without saying that boys and young men will stay away in droves.  It’s almost as if destroying the fun for men is more important than making money.  And it is.

But the good news is that the old movies are still there to see and enjoy.  And eventually when Disney has finally committed cinematic suicide there will still be creative types who will know how to use these old films as templates for how to create entertaining and profitable movies.  After all people haven’t changed.  Hero slays the dragon and wins the beautiful princess has been around at least as long as the Iliad and the Odyssey.  It certainly will survive the Woke Wars.

I hope.

A Meditation on Iron Man 3 – Or Why Sequels Suck


I won’t frame this post as a movie review.  I won’t synopsize the plot or provide a detailed opinion on it as a movie.  Instead, I’ll use watching the movie as the launching pad for a rant.  Because rants are fun (for the writer).  Unloading on a movie that disappoints and especially one that trades on the good reputation of an earlier installment feels like a noble action.

I’ll start out by saying I really enjoyed the original Iron Man movie.  Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges and the supporting cast; Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow, provided plenty of entertaining content to this comedy/adventure movie.  That movie was fun, exciting and highly entertaining.

Alternatively, Iron Man 3 is none of those things.  It’s a complete waste of time.  The plot is confusing and essentially meaningless.  All of the characters are annoying and uncompelling.  Even Downey’s Tony Stark is surprisingly uninteresting and poorly written.  He is suffering from anxiety attacks based on his experiences in the Avengers movie that occurred before this film.  He has several of them during the movie and they just seem so contrived and pathetic that it feels like really lazy writing.  So, by the end of this movie, I’m feeling fairly unhappy with the time I’ve wasted watching this crapfest.

So, this is what you get with these movie franchises.  The first one is probably very good.  There’s good writing, good acting and an original idea.  But two or even three sequels down the road you end up with a crappy director, hack writers and a much less talented supporting cast.  And voila, an awful movie.

Now it doesn’t have to be this way.  There have been movie series where the quality was more or less maintained.  Downey, himself for instance, was in one such.  His two Sherlock Holmes films were almost equally interesting and entertaining.  But in general, Hollywood has an equation where sequels are a money-making strategy where quality is abandoned after installment one.

So, what’s my point?  Well, there isn’t one.  Except that I was so annoyed watching this movie that I wanted to carp and moan about my outraged sensibilities.  Robert Downey Jr. is an amusing actor who can carry a picture to great effect if you give him a decent plot and some good lines to recite while he mugs for the camera.  It would have been entirely possible to allow his character to carry this movie without any expensive supporting cast if they had only invested in an actual story!

And so, the takeaway is “caveat emptor.”  Do your homework when it comes to sequels and make sure you don’t pay for a movie that is just a pale shadow of its predecessor.  Luckily, I watched this for free on my cable service.  But I did waste more than two hours of my, at this point, limited time left on this mortal coil.

And shame on you Robert Downey Jr.  You’re better than that.  Now go make the third Sherlock Holmes movie.  And don’t let them phone it in!

The Means of Production – Part 1

So, what to write about tonight?  Tucker?  Elon?  The Biden Crime Family’s Congressional investigation?  Trump and his various legal problems.  The Republican presidential contenders?  Dementia Joe’s sinking ratings?  The crime-drenched cities?  The invasion at the southern border?  The collapsing banks?  Stagflation?  The Ukraine War?  Bud Light’s ongoing sales freefall?

Meh.  Just not in the mood.  Maybe it’s the crazy local things I’m involved in.  Maybe it’s too much same old, same old.

Well for whatever reason, let’s talk about something different.

I was reading recently about a studio that has been producing family friendly movies.  Mostly Christian movies but not exclusively.  Let’s call them Christian friendly.  They recently had a hit with a movie called the Jesus Revolution, “a feel-good movie about hippies who returned to Christ during the 1970s, starring former “Cheers” and “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer – has grossed more than $52 million since its debut just a few weeks ago, making it the most successful film released by studio heavyweight Lionsgate since 2019.”

Many years ago, I remember watching a few of the movies produced by Christian churches and other organizations.  And although it was refreshing to see entertainment that stressed religious values and themes, they were notable for very simplistic plots and amateurish acting.  I guess the cast was more living the moments of the plot rather than acting them.

““The biggest critique on Christian art of the last thirty plus years, is that it’s not good, or it hasn’t been good,” said Terence Berry, COO of Wedgwood Circle, a nonprofit that connects investors and creators to develop projects that are informed by their Christian faith. “And I do think there have been huge strides made in people creating content for the faith market.””

Move forward twenty years and the producers now out there like Wedgwood and Angel Studios are producing movies that can be viewed by mainstream audiences without eye-rolling.  Berry calls it “a third way.”

““Can you offer stuff that is not perceived as faith market, and that is really well done, and it’s good, true, and beautiful, and it’s speaking to larger questions and it is aligned with your faith,” he asked, “but it is done so in a way that allows other people from outside the faith to engage and like that content?””

In the article the writer mentions that these producers are producing movies and arranging theater distribution using both investor and crowd-funded capital.  And the products include movies, music, books, television, and radio shows.  In fact, there are even animated movies in the works.

So why is this interesting?

I think because Hollywood is melting down.  Other than super hero movies Hollywood has only had a very few actual blockbuster hits in the last ten years.  Tom Cruise in Top Gun is that exception that proves the rule.  And it’s especially relevant because it’s one of the few movies that bucks all the stupid trends that have cost Hollywood its audience.  It’s patriotic.  It doesn’t pound away at woke tropes.  It doesn’t replace entertainment with an agenda.  It doesn’t denigrate its audience.

So, with Hollywood marching into the ocean and at the same time starving audiences for wholesome content.  And with streaming and the lower price of computer-generated imaging making fantasy and other genera movies orders of magnitude cheaper than just a few years ago, this is the perfect time for small production companies to provide people with entertainment choices they sorely lack.

And I think it’s finally, finally beginning to happen.  I’ve watched some short sci-fi movies on YouTube that come close to Hollywood level special effects.  And because of how Hollywood is using “diversity, inclusion and equity” there are many unemployed straight, white, male actors, writers, directors and other creatives that could use work.  In such an environment I think we’ll start seeing more and more breakout productions that owe their success to giving people the entertainment that Hollywood refuses to produce.

But here’s the point.  All of these people trying to produce this content didn’t get into it because they always wanted to build their own movie studios.  They’re doing it because the movie studios told them that the content they wanted was wrong and shouldn’t exist.  So, they had to become movie makers.  Same thing with book authors.  The books we like are so evil that the publishers are retroactively changing the text of old classics like Roald Dahl’s children’s books.  Same for music, same for art.  Same for education.  If we want what we think is right we’re going to have to make it ourselves.  Internalize that and employ it as needed in your life and you’ll start changing things for the better.

If you don’t like the crap on display in woke world then search out something better at the fringes.  And if that doesn’t exist, then do it yourself.  That’s the lesson.

I intend to start looking for some of these movie projects and try them out.  I’ll report back on what I find.

Worst Movies of the 21st Century List

The Hollywood Reporter is a rag that’s been around forever and purports to know something about film.  They’ve put out a list of what they claim are the “best” films of the 21st Century.  If you go through this list from start to finish you’ll most say, “Huh?”  Which is a good thing.  Most of this dreck explores the neuroses of sexual deviants trying to figure out why they are desperately unhappy and at odds with normal human experience.  Good luck with enjoying that with a tub of popcorn.  There are one or two movies that were entertaining or meaningful but as a list to choose entertainment it’s a joke, a bad joke.

One of these days I need to publish some best movie lists by categories and put these professional critics to well deserved shame.

Guest Contributor – Chemist – 01MAR2023 – Further Comments on the Oscars

I came to answer your question “What is wrong with the Oscars”?
(Although I agree with the rant about crappy movies.)
1) Too long. If you can’t get it done in 2 hours – don’t do it. People have lives, they need to get up in the morning.
2) Too woke. Stop awarding movies no one is ever going to watch just because they are woke.
3) Too much self preening. Take your award. Thank you mama, high school drama coach and your spouse – then get off the stage. We don’t want to hear about your current pet project. (Unless you are funny. Humor is welcome. Brevity or levity.)
4) Get rid of the damn politics. The country is just about evenly divided. No matter what you say, you will piss off half the country. Stop it!

This shouldn’t be news to anyone. And the fact that the Oscars (and every other award show) keeps on doing these things is just a giant middle finger to the audience.
We get it. You don’t care about us. Understood. Message received. Loud and clear.
So stop asking why we don’t watch your silly little award show. You know why.

What’s Really Wrong With the Oscars?

I don’t know why I would read an article in Vox magazine entitled “This is the most populist Oscars in a long time.  So why doesn’t it feel like it?   I guess it’s because sometimes I wonder what Hollywood thinks about its own destruction.  I really should stop wondering.  But anyway.

This article is centered around a recent Saturday Night Live skit about how no one can name any movies in the last five years.

“This is an interesting problem for me, a film critic, to think about. I watch more movies in a year than some people watch in a lifetime, and hear about hundreds more. The situation is different for most ordinary folks. In the SNL sketch, Yang asks Pascal to “name three movies from the past five years.” Stunned by the challenge, Pascal ventures, “Oh, wow. Three? Okay.” He contemplates, and comes up with Top Gun. Then he tries another: “The Hangover?”

“That was 20 years ago,” Yang says.

“The Night … Man,” Pascal says.

“Sounds like you’re just saying words. Come on, all you need is one,” Yang coaxes. “Can’t you just name one more movie?”

“Nope,” Pascal says, resigned.

“That’s right!” Yang crows, jubilantly. “Nope! You won the speed round!””

So, this is supposed to be funny but it’s just reality.  Hollywood can no longer make a good movie.  At this point if one happens it’s an accident.  All we’re left with are sequels and superheroes.  When they stray away from those mainstays we end up with a dreary story about tortured people that have some affliction like transgenderism or Tourette’s syndrome who we’re supposed to cheer on as they bravely struggle to force the world to struggle along with them.  Or maybe it’s a genre film; science fiction or film noir where the protagonists are transgender or have Tourette’s syndrome and the people who aren’t transgender or don’t have Tourette’s syndrome are the evil villains.  Or it’s a story about lesbian or gay love.  Or it’s a documentary about a woman who was being kept down by “the man” but now she’s the head of a multi-national non-profit that makes bean bag furniture for everyday people.  Or it’s a documentary about a mostly peaceful riot during the Summer of George Floyd.  Or best of all, maybe it’ll be another story about slavery in the antebellum South.  What a joy that would be!

But, no!  The authoress then reveals the real problem, it’s just poor marketing!  So, get that.  In a world in which you are bombarded with ads on every device you can possibly own, on every site you enter, giant media companies aren’t able to tell you they have a movie coming out.

“The abundance of options and possibilities tend to strip the context and intentionality away from the viewing experience; you didn’t have to talk to your friends about what movie you wanted to see, buy a ticket, and create an experience out of it. Now it all just flows toward you, content in an endless stream.”

This is gibberish.  I suspect this woman was dropped on her head at some point in the past and never recovered her wits.  Or maybe she thinks we were.  Of course, people heard about movies from friends.  The problem is all the movies are now unwatchable so our friends don’t have anything to tell us.  It’s like what happened to broadcast television.  The profit model changed so they stopped making things that were good and filled up the time with reality shows and police procedurals where the police are all young women who have really nice hair and clothes and only arrest straight white men who are keeping the BIPoCs, LGBTQ and women “down.”

There are no good movies to see.  Even the superhero movies have become infested with woke characters and plots.  And that why Top Gun made a bazillion dollars last year.  It was an old-fashioned movie with a plot and likeable characters and it didn’t show you anything weird that you had to make believe you liked.

“It’s okay if you haven’t seen most of the Oscar nominees, or even heard of them. In 2023, that probably means you live a normal, well-balanced life, one full of going outside to toss around a softball and maybe, I don’t know, reading books and whatever normal people do. But if you find yourself wondering why you can’t name three movies that came out in the past five years, remember, it’s not just the movies’ fault — and it’s a fixable problem, with a little effort.”

It’s not a fixable problem because Hollywood cannot be fixed.  It has been in a death spiral and that’s now approaching impact.  When it splats it will leave a lot of stupid emotional people without jobs.  Good.

It can only be replaced by something willing to provide entertainment that people are willing to pay for and willing to watch.  And that is why no one with half a brain will be watching the Oscars this year or any other year.  Pass the popcorn.