This past year we have watched on our television sets, visited our favorite websites and bared witness to the changes -- or at least the calls for change -- throughout the world. Earlier this year Tunisia kicked off the Arab Spring a wave that lasted through Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Sudan and a whole mess of other countries we didn't even know existed. Americans aren't going to be out-frustrated by anybody, so you better believe we got into this whole take-to-the-streets business ourselves. While scores of citizens occupy major cities across the United States, exercising their rights to protest, I sit here and wonder, why Hollywood has gotten off so easily?
It's as if we all forgot about 2008. It didn't happen. Lives were destroyed. Grown men were brought to tears. Am I the only one who remembers Over Her Dead Body? I can't possibly be. Adam Sandler brought us You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Bedtime Stories in one fell swoop, like a thief in the night. Years of good will Mike Myers' way resulted in The Guru. M. Knight Shyamalan's stock came crashing down with The Happening. Years later he would only make it worse with The Last Airbender. My M. Knight shares today? Worthless.
It technically didn't start in 2008, fine. But Hollywood has committed atrocities to it's ticket-buying public long enough. And let's not let the theater chains off the hook either, those clowns are just as culpable, believe me. The good news is we have a vote in the matter. We can choose to buy or not buy a ticket for such and such movie. The problem is we too often vote against our own spiritual self-interests. We want to see a good movie and then we laugh every time we see a "Kevin James is fat" joke. We make fun of the Fast and the Furious movies. And then we sue the distributer of Drive because there wasn't enough driving. And because the movie features anti-semitism? (she should probably stay away from another Ryan Gosling film, The Believer).
Ultimately, however, the blame falls on Hollywood. It isn't enough that we had to deal with the real-life economics of the internet bubble, the housing bubble and the education bubble currently peaking through the surface. We go to the movies to get away from all that. And what are we met with? The trilogy bubble, a comic-book bubble, a remake bubble, a Sarah Jessica Parker bubble and -- wait for it -- the 3-D bubble. At least in the real world, we know when the housing bubble has burst. But these cats in Hollywood, they don't know when to stop blowing bubbles. They're like that sad kid when his bottle of bubbles empties, it's been empty for days, but he's still blowing through that little soap circle, trying to will those bubbles alive. There's no more bubble juice left because you got sloppy and you went crazy with all those bubbles, kid. That's right, I completely changed the bubble analogy on everybody. This is how crazy Hollywood makes me.
I can't pretend to speak for everyone. My list of grievances with Hollywood may not be the same as yours. But keep of these proposed grievances what you will, remove those you wish and add whichever ones you like.
1. I WILL NO LONGER pay $4.50 or more for a medium popcorn.
Last week I went to Walgreens, picked up two boxes of candy for a third of the price it would have cost me at the theater, stuffed them in my pocket and walked into the theater as my outer thighs played the Goobers and Mike & Ikes like a pair of maracas. Did the ticket ripper hear my maracas? Absolutely. But who's going to tackle me in this economy?
2. I WILL NOT order the large for just 25 cents more.
This goes without saying. Which means I totally wasted a spot that could have gone to a much more worthy pledge.
3. I WILL NOT purchase a ticket to see Jack and Jill for my children or my significant other, no matter how much they beg me.
This movement is nothing if we don't have the courage our convictions. You will be tempted with subterfuge like "It's just one of those silly movies where we can just turn our brains off" or "It's not like every movie is meant to win an Oscar" but these are the rationalizations whispered by Satan himself, I promise you. Hold fast. I like to have a wait-and-see approach with most movies even if they don't look very good, but I'm going to go out on a fairly secure limb here and say that movie will be an abomination to humanity. Speaking of ...
4. I WILL NOT pay for another Jason Statham, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Ashton Kutcher, Cuba Gooding Jr., Katherine Heigl, M. Knight Shyamalan, James W.S. Anderson, Michael Bay, Jason Friedman, Aaron Seltzer, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor movie. Ever. Again.
Or at least until one of them achieves a 70% fresh or higher RottenTomatoes rating. We will have the courage of most of our convictions here.
5. I WILL NO LONGER abide by any more remakes.
Remakes are the dearth of creativity. If you want to make money over somebody else's work, do what Tarantino does and pay tribute while completely reinventing it at the same time. Note: If your last name doesn't end in "arantino", however, you should probably try your hand at something else.
6. HOLLYWOOD MUST limit their 3-D spectacles to five films a year.
I'm not saying do away with the format altogether. I'm saying there's no reason for me to see a Paul W.S. Anderson movie in 3-D. Ever. 2-D is bad enough, thank you.
7. HOLLYWOOD MUST limit their "bubble" films to a cap of three a year.
For example, we are currently in the midst of a comic-book movie bubble. So there should be one comic book movie per summer, one per spring and one per winter (autumn isn't very comic-booky anyway). That's a cap of three folks. And that means studios have to make their entries count. It also means we will be spared a movie year where we get 10 comic-book films jammed down our throat, filled with fringe heroes like Ant-Man. Also, D.C. should be barred from making any further comic book films that do not involve kryptonite or billionaire playboys who dress up like bats.
8. HOLLYWOOD MUST give Jeff Fahey more work.
I'm half-watching Planet Terror right now, so call it being a prisoner of the moment, but the guy is genius in this movie. And I mean that in the exaggerated sense of the word, the sort people just kind of throw around these days.
9. HOLLYWOOD MUST provide us with a new breed of action hero.
Hollywood is always telling us they are providing us with a "new breed of action hero," but those are the words of politicians. It's kind of like when a politician says he cares about the middle class. I say enough with the false promises and declarations. And stop trying to cast guys that "look" like they'd be a good action hero. Every young guy with Jason Statham abs gets his shot at out-running a bomb. It's boring. It's predictable. And far too often, these guys lack real charisma. And the problem goes deeper than casting, the problem are the actual roles themselves. You know why Bruce Willis made for such a great action hero in Die Hard? It's because he had a receding hairline, a bit of a temper and didn't look like he could lift more than 200 pounds. He had an average Joe quality that audiences could -- hold your breath -- identify with. I can't identify with half these guys any more. Regular people are interesting when they're faced up against extraordinary circumstances. You know what isn't interesting? Invincibility.
10. HOLLYWOOD MUST stop blowing everything up.
I watched Transformers: Dark of the Moon where there's basically an entire hour of stuff blowing up and being destroyed. The whole city of Chicago is being obliterated by giant machines hellbent on destroying the human race and you know what I felt? Sleepy. Did I care about any person in the entire city? Did I have anything invested there? No. Because Michael Bay's world is so infused with non-human, fake plastic caricatures that it's impossible to hope anyone or any thing survives. They're not even likable caricatures and unless you're some soulless, L.A. millionaire with the depth of a rain puddle who just so happens to direct big-budget features, you have to be tired of this routine. I can't even go full-throttle cynical and say I was rooting for the Decepticons because those were boring too. I didn't want anyone to die. I just didn't care if they did. And it feels like Michael Bay doesn't care either. I pick on Bay because he's the guy who gets paid the biggest bucks and gets the biggest projects in an industry of far, far more talented hacks. But there's a whole academy of filmmakers that make the same mistakes he does. And they'll keep doing it if we keep paying to see them do it.