What a weird week. We’ve got an earnestly uplifting biopic and a franchise scraping so deeply into the bottom of the barrel there may not even actually be a bottom anymore, let alone a barrel. Looks like this is the weekend to catch up on what I’ve missed over the last few weeks.
It would likely take something along the lines of Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Paranormal Activity 7 for me to elevate Scary Movie 5 out of the bottom spot. It seems like this franchise simply exists to give B- and C-list stars the chance to pay off their tax bills. The first film worked because it was pretty tightly focused on parodying Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, which at least gave it some kind of structure. But as the series has gone on, it’s basically become the visual equivalent of an issue of Mad, grasping at any pop culture references it can find and hoping they’re still relevant by the time the film actually comes out. And I simply can’t condone this film’s blatant irresponsibility in allowing Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan to spend any kind of time together. That’s like mixing matter and anti-matter.
So 42 is the choice this week pretty much by default, even if I’m not all that excited about it. Baseball movies seem to do fine when they’re about the game itself, like a Bull Durham, but they struggle when it comes to showing the history of the game. Hollywood used to have a bead on it back in the day , with classics like Pride of the Yankees and The Stratton Story, and even as recently as Eight Men Out in 1988. But since then, The Babe and Cobb are the best we got, and those aren’t exactly making the rotation on Turner Classic Movies any time soon. I think it’s because baseball already does such a good job of mythologizing itself, any attempt to Hollywood-ize the mythology tends to pale in comparison. Still, 42 has Harrison Ford looking as invested in a film as he has been in years, and if anything, his performance will give us a chance to either anticipate or dread what he might do in the new Star Wars films.
Next week, Oblivion has the stage all to itself. It’s shaping up to be a good — or at the very least interesting — year for harder sci-fi at the movies, with Oblivion, After Earth and Elysium all on the horizon. Of course, after the huge disappointment of Prometheus last year, any one of these merely being okay will be a step up.