Thursday, June 23, 2011

June Jejune Gloom

                                Mr Popper's Penguins, Jim Carrey, 20th Century Fox

And where would Summer be without the senseless, mechanized drivel that runs on popcorn butter and quick dirty cash? It's become as much apart of the medium as a toddler's skidmarks or the piss stench of an inner city alley way. The signs that the Summer season are upon us? Rising heat and odious billboards that are painful to look at.

This June has been kind thus far, offering sublime creations, art house funk and big bucks pleasure. But we also have three blemishes which present us travesties of their (dis)respective genres, hopefully which the ensuing months can eradicate.

Todd Phillips is a sub-par satirist, to put it mildly. Road Trip, School for Scoundrels and The Hangover were all simplistic, obvious stabs at comedy, pathetically taken for the real thing. Old School was his brightest moment, a guilty pleasure not much better than the aforementioned titles. With The Hangover Part 2, he offers more of the same, a stomach turning, unfunny crapfest which is sadly one of the most mass anticipated films of the year. The Farrelly Brothers' Hall Pass was one of their limpest pictures, but looks like the Marx Brothers beside junk like this. At least the Farrellys have a social conscience and subtext to drive their visions.

Mark Waters started out with a bang over a decade ago, with an edgy, ballsy indie called The House of Yes, still inspiringly inventive today. That promise faded to a whimper with mediocre cop outs like Mean Girls. He's curtailed to the paycheck without holding onto a shred of artistic integrity. With Mr Popper's Penguins, he simultaneously butchers a children's lit classic while making one of the most excruciatingly lame kid flicks of the year. Even the genius of Jim Carrey can't save this one, as our favorite funnyman is on autopilot.

Action vet Martin Campbell seemed a smart choice to helm a big season superhero comic adaptation, having adeptly brought to cinematic life both Zorro and James Bond. So what exactly went wrong with The Green Lantern? Almost everything, apparently. The film looks bland, the script is boring, the usually reliable Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively come off as at their worst. When the CGI moments are the best most surreally distracting element of your picture, you've got problems. Only saving graces? The excellent Peter Sarsgard hamming it up and James Newton Howard's typical but dependable score. This is one of the worst superhero flicks in years, failing on nearly every level.

And so, the Summer is on, the popcorn is stale and available to plug up your ears. Here's hoping for some good old fashioned Summer fun, in the cinemas or the sun, to clear away the unbearable gloom.

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