It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Eh, how about it was the "Huh, I guess that was OK" of times. The 2011 Holiday Movie Pool has finally been drained and all that's left are some arm floaties and what I hope is an unwrapped Baby Ruth at the bottom, but we'll have to call in Bill Murray's character from Caddyshack to know for sure.
It was a season of eight sequels or franchise extensions, it was a season that offered two first films of intended trilogies. It was a season that tried to offer a little something to everyone, it was a season where given the opportunity for a date night couples realized there's nothing they really wanted to see. It wasn't as bad as last year's lackluster offerings, it never felt like it was much better.
I think it's pretty obvious that Charles Dickens wasted his writing style on something as meaningless as the French Revolution. Reporting about the Hollywood box-office totals would've been way more worth his time.
Now, as we come to the close of the 2011 Holiday Movie Pool, let's take a look at what we left back in the changing room.
The I-Would-Not-Watch-Them-On-A-Boat, I-Would-Not-Watch-Them-With-A-Goat List
If there's one things kids want to see even less than Shakespeare these days, it's movies about him. (Unless it's the 1968 version of Romeo & Juliet that I saw in 8th grade that showed a flash of Juliet's boob. In the pre-internet era, that was the equivalent of Paris Hilton making a sex tape live in your classroom). Anonymous filled that role perfectly as most people didn't even know what it was about, so they didn't have to realize they wouldn't want to see it.
In Time I hope to understand what Justin Timberlake is doing. I thought he was supposed to be saving us from crappy Pitbull songs on the radio, not making films Jean Claude Van Damme would've turned down in the 90's... And believe me, he didn't turn down many!
I'm pretty sure whatever diary Johnny Depp writes after a couple of bottles of rum is 10,000 times more interesting than anything in The Rum Diary.
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas was a lot like Christmas on Walton's Mountain. If it wasn't for the graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use, and 3D effects, they were the exact same thing.
There's no question a movie named Jay Edgar would've made a $100 million more than any movie titled J. Edgar. No one likes anyone who leads off their name with an initial. You either just roll with your middle name and go with Edgar Hoover or you stick with your actual first name. Never initialize it. You're just asking for people to punch you.
If The Sitter really wanted to be a throwback to an 80's movie, they should've called-up Ray Parker Jr. to rework his Ghostbusters song for their film. "If you wanna leave your kids, with a pot smoking fiend. Who you gonna call? The Sitter! -- I ain't 'fraid of no bust!" Of course, then Ray would've got sued again by Huey Lewis and the News who claimed he stole their music from I Want a New Drug, which ironically would've seem fitting this time around.
The Darkest Hour may have been when the producers realized there already was a film about Moscow getting blown up this holiday season and it starred Tom Cruise while theirs starred the guy from Speed Racer (and, no, not the actor that played Chim Chim). Besides, never start with an "est" in your title. Save that for the third film in your trilogy. You have to plan ahead and go Dark, Darker, Darkest. Maybe they just knew they were never going to get to a third film, let alone a second.
The I'd-Probably-See-It-In-A-Box, I'd-Probably-See-It-With-A-Fox List
You know the last time Ben Stiller and Matthew Broderick worked together it was in a poorly received film with a huge comedic star that did mediocre box-office. That film was The Cable Guy. Fifteen years later you might as well say "Rinse, Cycle, Repeat" when it comes to Tower Heist. Seriously, is it that hard to keep these guys apart? I know they both played lions in The Lion King and Madagascar, but what the heck else do they have in common?!
If the makers of Immortals were trying to make a film that was just like 300 and Clash of the Titans, they did sooooo good. You know who fell asleep and couldn't give a crap about anyone in the movie during both of those films? Me. You know who fell asleep and couldn't give a crap about anyone during Immortals? Yup, that's right... You can smell what The Matt is cooking.
Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of money. Jack fell down and broke his crown but he'll still make another movie next year.
Sometimes movies are hits that create zero nostalgia. Case in point, The Addams Family. Big hit in the holiday season of 1991 and yet no one really cared about it. Overboard will be on roughly 2003 more times before we ever have another Addams Family showing on TV. When Addams Family Values came out two years later, there wasn't an MC Hammer song in the world that could've saved that movie. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Happy Feet Two!
You know how Disney has been putting really funny animated shorts in front of its main releases lately? Arthur Christmas decided to roll with a Justin Bieber music video. Santa Claus may have been coming to town, but people were heading out of the theater.
Whatever success Hugo had was probably based on people thinking it was a Lost spin-off movie. Dude.
Whether it was The Muppets or The Moopets, they seemed to draw the same interest. Most people just walka walka walka'd on by. The worst part for Gen X fans? We felt too young to know all of the cameos by those "old" stars in The Muppet Movie. Now I felt too old to know all of the cameos by the "new" stars in The Muppets.
I was really looking forward to a whole series of holiday-themed, episodic romantic-comedy movies like St. Patrick's Day, Earth Day, and Talk Like A Pirate Day, yet thanks to New Year's Eve I think that's all been thrown aside. Talk about the ball dropping.
The Adventures of Tintin kind of went RustRust. The Golden Compass pulled similar numbers in 2007 (performed well internationally but meek domestically) and that put the kibosh on that intended trilogy. Tintin's next adventure will just be to get a second film made.
A friend of mine summed-up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as dark. Well, der. It's not called The Girl with the Warm Fuzzy Tattoo! Sony's marketing campaign completely missed the boat by trying to be hip and calling this the "Feel bad movie" of the season as now they're the only ones feeling bad.
Outside of Seabiscuit, audiences haven't exactly been flocking to horse movies lately and War Horse was no exception. I'm pretty sure if they'd let the horse talk and make fart jokes, it could've at least done as well as last year's Yogi Bear.
You know, if I bought a zoo, I'm sure I'd be harassed by PETA and other animal rights groups until I just locked myself in a cage to get away from them. Somehow, when Matt Damon does it in We Bought a Zoo, he becomes an international superstar, grows closer to his family, and ends up friending Scarlett Johansson. How exactly was this based on a true story?
With all of those pretenders out of the way, it's time to get to the nitty gritty an unveil The 2011 Holiday Movie Pool Top Five (Since Monday was MLK Day)!!!
#5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked - $121 million
Looks like Alvin and the gang suffered a similar fate to Kelly Clarkson in their third go-round. Just like Kelly tried to set her own path with My December and sound like an Evanescence/Paramore clone, Alvin tried to add a plot to Chipwrecked and make it like, I don't know, an actual movie. Bad call on both parts. Luckily, it only takes one My Life Would Suck Without You to make everyone forget that whole phase, even if in Alvin's case My Life Would Suck With Him.
#4. Puss In Boots - $147.3 million
Puss succeeded where a lot of other family films faltered this season. It didn't knock anything out of the park, yet it kept bringing folks in week after week while the others kept collecting the scraps. He may be a bad kitty, but he was the best in a weak field, so someone else is going to have to change his litter box this year. (I have no idea what any of that means... We've reached the point in the night where I can't keep my eyes open even though my heart is racing from OD'ing on too many energy drinks).
#3. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $172 million
While its slow start was a mystery, Holmes eventually solved the case and filmgoers followed. Either that or people still had such a problem with Robert Downey Jr.'s accent they had to go multiple times just to figure out what he was saying. Given the Tom Hardy/Bane furor circling The Dark Knight Rises where people claim they can't understand him when he's wearing a mask, Christopher Nolan should announce that Downey's going to voiceover all of Bane's dialogue with his Sherlock accent and marbles in his mouth just to further explode the heads of fan boys everywhere.
#2. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - $189.4 million
Tom Cruise is like the Scientologist version of Tim Tebow. His last three movies had felt like defenses had figured him out and instead of the mad scrambles and defiant victories, it looked like we had a lot more 6-3 home losses in store for him. Then a wounded Steelers team, much like a lackluster Holiday line-up, shows up and not only can Tom go toe-to-toe with them for 60 minutes, he has just enough for one last play in overtime to win the game. Sure, a good Patriots team or a Transformers movie will crush him next time around, but now he's at least back enough to make you think he may be able to pull it out at any given time... and just like football is more interesting with characters like Tim Tebow out there, so are our movie pools with Tom Cruise.
#1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - $279.8 million
Well, when the worst thing you can say about a movie is that's $20 million down from the $300 million made by the last Twilight movie, that's not too shabby. Then again, you'd have thought the Bruno Mars upgrade over Death Cab for Cutie and Florence and the Machine should've made a bigger impact. We're talking about maybe the first "hit single" from a movie since Will Smith's Here Come the Men in Black! What used to be a staple 25 years ago is about as common today as perms and shoulder pads. Are we going to have to go back to an obscure indy pop band in order for Breaking Dawn Part 2 to get back to the land of $300 mill? The Decemberists better keep their calendar open.
by Matt Neuenburg on 01/18/2012
Movies Mentioned in this Post:
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,
Alvin and the Chipmunks – Chipwrecked,
Happy Feet Two,
Jack and Jill,
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol,
New Year's Eve,
Puss in Boots,
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,
The Adventures of Tintin,
The Darkest Hour,
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,
The Rum Diary,
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1,
We Bought a Zoo