I kind of wish the Friday the 13th series was still a going thing. Because you just know we’d have one being released today. The marketing department wouldn’t have been able to contain themselves. Alas, we’ll just have to settle for this being a very unlucky Friday for the films coming out today. Scrambling to grab whatever piece of the pie they can wrest away from Spectre before the final Hunger Games shows up next week to eat the whole damn dessert table. I have a feeling it’s not going to be pretty, no matter how nice a hockey mask you slap on it.
My All American seems like perfectly harmless, inoffensive, heart-warming entertainment that somehow wandered away from the Hallmark Channel and ended up in theaters. The ads desperately want you to liken it to Rudy or Hoosiers, but that only serves to remind me that I actually like those movies. Honestly, there’s nothing memorable or distinguishing about this film. It’s major selling seems to be its very inoffensive blandness; “Don’t worry, folks, no explosions or bad language, just good basic American ordinariness. That’ll be $11.50.” It’s cinematic white bread, which, sadly, is going to be enough of a selling point for enough people who don’t want to be even remotely challenged, just reminded that hey, clean-cut young white men are swell, ain’t they?
Love the Coopers is the first straight-up Christmas themed movie of the season, and likely to be just about as unwelcome as everything else forcing Christmas on us earlier and earlier. It may have gotten the hint, as it’s titled Christmas with the Coopers in the UK, but opted for the more generic title stateside. No matter what you call it, it’s yet another one of those “throw a bunch of people we recognize into one big quirky, fictional family and watch the hilarity!” Except all too often there’s no hilarity to watch; it’s just a bunch of people we recognize either trying way too hard or, more often, not enough. So you can cringe along with Alan Arkin and John Goodman and Diane Keaton and a lot of other people who really should have been doing better things with their time. At least this film actually has a black person on the poster though.
Hey, finally we get a movie with non-white, non-American people in it … and they’re promptly buried underground. The 33 is based on the 2010 mine disaster in Chile wherein 33 miners were trapped underground for two months, making the entire world actually pay attention to Chile for, well, two months. The actual story is definitely one of inspiring courage and perseverance in which all 33 were rescued. Thing is, I saw it all unfold on TV as it happened. I’m not sure what a dramatic reenactment of those events can bring to the table. It’s not like Apollo 13, where I was too young to have known what went on and which felt like a revelation. This just feels like it checks off the sequence of events, mixes in some appropriate inspiration, and pats itself on the back. It does pull off the trick of getting Gabriel Byrne and Juliette Binoche to appear Chilean, which might be worth a look.
I can’t help but think how Jason Voorhees would have improved each of these films. My All American is set in Texas, so you could evoke a little Leatherface while you’re at it. Jason could hunt down the Coopers one by one as they head back for more egg nog. And you can’t tell me a hockey-mask-wearing machete-wielding maniac stalking a collapsed mine doesn’t sound awesome. But it’s Friday the 13th. We should be so lucky.