Notes from the Back Row 

Raw chicken anyone?


There’s big debate going on in the film circles these days, started by an article in Variety magazine, about the “cinematic appetites of critics vs. those of the popcorn crowd.” More specifically, why are movies like Ghost Rider and 300 , getting bashed by the critics and then making shitloads at the box office? Are we (movie critics) out of touch with pop culture and “real” movie fans?

First of all, thanks to the Internet everyone’s a critic, and everyone’s a fan. Movie watchers are probably the largest group of fans out there. Secondly, Hollywood spends incredible amounts of money marketing films and attempting to persuade you that to see a movie on opening weekend is a special event, a cultural experience that, if you partake in it, will ultimately make your life cooler, hipper and easier to get laid. Is any of this true? Of course! But only if you like talking about movies as much as watching them. As a film, 300 was just as kick-ass the second weekend as the first, but as a conversation piece/pick-up line it’s old news.

So what’s the difference between a guy like me who likes to feel moved/inspired/awed by a film and a guy like, say you, who’s just looking for two hours of entertainment with a cute chick and perhaps a chance to sneak in the popcorn trick?

The answer is taste, personal taste, and we all know there’s no point in arguing about personal taste. Plus, people tend to embrace the familiar and the Hollywood marketing machine is so adept that even when I and the other so-called “experts” say something like, “this crapfest is about as much fun as eating raw chicken”, it usually doesn’t make a difference because you’ve been inundated with multi-million dollar hype machines for months prior. Movies like The Da Vinci Code , or Pirates of the Caribbean 2 do just fine, regardless of what I say.

So what’s the point? Honestly? There just isn’t much happening at the Village 8 this week and I had to write about something. But a good example of this argument is the new Will Ferrell picture Blades of Glory , which opens Friday. As a film, by my standards, it’s not that good. But should you go see it? For sure!

Ferrell stars as Chaz Michael Michaels, a sexy and provocative male figure skating champ who, after a fight with his arch-rival, the Peacock-ish and finicky Jimmy McElroy, gets them both banned from skating, for life. Three years later, a loophole: they can compete as a pair.

Cue the homo jokes, Will Ferrell playing with his nipples, and Napolean Dynamite proving he’s still a one-trick pony. Yes, it’s all very familiar (although rival incestuous brother-sister team of Amy Poehler and Will Arnet are fantastic) and first time directors Will Speck and Josh Gordon blunder their way through the movie, relying heavily on the improv talents of their stars.

But is it funny? Of course. Familiar, but funny nonetheless. I mean come on, is there anything easier to make fun of than figure skating? Nope. So regardless of what you think of critics, fans, or Variety magazine, Blades of Glory will have a decent opening weekend, Ferrell fans will love it, and highbrow critics can take solace in the fact that it’s only 93 minutes long, just about as much time as it takes three bong hits to wear off.

The Village 8 is also opening Meet the Robinsons , a crapfest Jetsons -meets- Back to the Future Disney cartoon that’s about as much fun as eating raw chicken.


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