Monday, January 23, 2006

You call that entertainment?

This past weekend I went and saw a very disapointing movie called Fun With Dick and Jane. Now it's not like I had really huge expectations going in, it was a Jim Carrey movie so I expected lots of sillyness and slapstick humor. And the movie had that, a good deal of it, that wasn't the disapointing part. I was disapointed that whoever made the film thought that it would be a good soapbox to stand on and preach at the audience from. The message? Large corporations are evil, and ambition leads to corruption and greediness.

The movie is about a man who gets promoted to VP right as the company goes through a scandal and goes under. The employees are screwed because their pensions consisted largely of company stock, so they are left without jobs and money while the corrupt former owner is sitting pretty on his millions. Our intrepid VB can't find a job so he resorts to selling posessions and crime. Hilarious hijinks ensue.

And don't get me wrong, the movie had funny parts. I laughed out loud several times. And it true Jim Carrey fashion there was a supersilious aspect to everything, a sort of disconnect from reality that is prevelent in his movies a la Bruce Almighty or Liar Liar. My biggest problem with the movie was it's complete disrespect of the american dream. You know that idea that we work hard, make money, provide for family, achieve goals, better yourself, remember that idea? Anyone who had acheived any level of success was either corrupt or a drunkard or both. And a big deal was made over the fact that "there aren't any jobs". This movie was obviously an Enron send up, even giving tongue in cheek credits to the Enron officials at the end of the movie. But it really bothered me that this movie confused ambition with greed. They even managed to put down Wal-Mart as a place unfit to work. The idea that they could not provide for themselves without stealing was one of the more absurd situations in a film that included a colar that electrocuted the dog when it barks.

Movies like this are part of an ongoing trend in Hollywood of putting out movies that are at odds with the normal moviegoing Jo Blo. Just look at the Golden Globes, compare the winners list to the list of the highest grossers of the year. Heck compare the list of nominees to the list of movies that people went and saw. You will see only a few movies on both lists. Because shockingly enough Americans aren't really entertained by oil company conspiracies, gay shepards, trans-sexual night club singers, or the glamorization of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Calling this phenomenom a disconnect might be a little disengenuous. Cognitive disconnect might be a better term. The actors, directors, and producers know that these movies aren't mainstream but they don't seem to care. Or at least that doesn't keep them from congratulating themselves for making them. It's like an activism for these people, they don't care how many people see the movie or how much money it makes. In fact their disregard for the capitalist nature of this country could be part of their undoing. The box-office continues to decline to the point where some top tier actors are having to take pay cuts.

Surprisingly the movie Brokeback Mountain is doing well at the box office. I think this is more a tribute to Ang Lee's skills than the social aspects being flogged in our faces by the Hollywood bigwigs. People in Hollywood completely misunderstand why conservatives do not like that movie. They think that it is because we are all closed-minded homophobes. Well in a way we are closed minded, most of us place a lot of value on the family unit as a whole and are not entertained by watching sheep dung get flung all over it. In Brokeback the family unit is dissembled in a painful way and we are intended to be sympathetic towards the two men who fall in love. We are sad that they can't give in to their emotions and longings for each other. The emotions themselves are never brougt in to question in a right or wrong equation. Their feelings are never condemned or embraced they are sort of looked on as unfortunate. This dismissal of the traditional family is what makes people mad. That and the implied sodomy.

So this begs the question of how long can Hollywood keep this up? Well innovation is already on it's way. The studios now make more money from DVD and merchandising than theatrical box office takes. And for the lay person it is getting even easier to make and edit a movie. I predict that smaller production company's will flourish and we will see a greater influx of independant films in the coming years. It also would not surprise me to see the straight to DVD market take off in a big way. Mark Cuban and his theater chain Landmark are already breaking the mold. They are concentrating on finding entertaining films and enhancing the moviegoing experience as a whole. Cuban has some great ideas that I think will work, such as selling the DVD of the movie as you exit the theater.

I also think that we will see more movies like End Of The Spear. Movies made with small budgets but with passion and themes that people can relate too. The Christian market is ripe for the picking as far as movies go. Now that Christian movies of higher quality are being made and produced families and churches will get behind them a la The Passion.

I think it will be a while before the big studio's will change their ways. But I think that they will either have to innovate or they will get left behind. They can't continue to operate in their leftist activism paradigm, they will end up broke if they do, it's that simple.

Linked to Don Surber and