Your Terminated Weekend at the Movies

05/22/2009 8:28 AM |

df89/1242951125-terminate.jpgTerminator Salvation: As far as nerd forecasts go, this Terminator installment has remained in something of a haze, garnering neither the advanced stages of “uh-oh” of Wolverine nor the “hey, whoa, that actually looks really cool” that turned out to be right about Star Trek. The Terminator Salvation trailers offer a lot of pretty cool-looking images illustrating that yes, finally, we are actually getting to the part with the robot wars, yet they can’t quite shake the stigma that yes, this is a part-four with no one from the original cast. McG directing also sets off alarm bells, even though he’s far from my least favorite hack director (I hate his music-videos about a thousand times more than any of his movies). In fact, it’s fine that McG made two Charlie’s Angels movies. Like Michael Bay and Transformers, McG and the Charlie’s Angels movies represent a perfect match of director and material that also keeps said director from wandering off and ruining other material. Like Terminator material, for example! Actually, Terminator 3, while a proficient action movie, inched the series closer to unruinable who-cares territory, so I’m keeping an open mind because I don’t care that much. So yeah, Christian Bale is John Connor, some dude named Sam Worthington prematurely shares above-the-title billing, and Bryce Dallas Howard is in here somewhere. Summer Glau, unfortunately, probably isn’t; I’m guessing this movie will ignore the just-canceled TV series as readily as that series ignored Terminator 3. And we’ll probably live to see a Terminator remake that ignores anything and everything. So it goes.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: I’m won’t claim that the first Night at the Museum was much good; in fact, I don’t really remember it apart from laughing at the malevolence of still-alive Mickey Rourke as one of the villains. But as far as ostentatious special-effects comedies for the whole family go, well, I guess Men in Black and Ghostbusters skew slightly older. If there was any disappointment with a low-expectations exercise like Museum, it was the way it actually assembled a formidable comic cast: Ben Stiller, Steve Coogan, Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Paul Rudd and Robin Williams (well past his prime, obviously, but there’s something amusing about the notion of Williams applying his loud fake-blustery voice to Teddy Roosevelt), all in support of a flimsy dreamer-single-dad-makes-good clunker. The sequel ups the comedy ante, re-assembling Stiller, Williams, Wilson, Coogan, Gervais and throwing in Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Hank Azaria, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, and Amy Adams. Seriously: if someone told you about a comedy starring any five of those eleven people, you’d probably want to see it. So I guess I’ll be seeing stupid Battle of the Smithsonian, no matter how many middling gags it dredges up from the original under the mistaken impression that audiences will demand them, because for Christ’s sake, Amy Adams using old-timey slang (she plays a reanimated Amelia Earhart — suck it, upcoming Hilary Swank-led biopic!). Even acknowledging that this movie probably won’t be much good, I do like the way Stiller seems to have turned this franchise into an all-in-one paycheck job for pretty much every comic actor in Hollywood. They don’t have to tempt moviegoers into twelve different kinds of crap, and they assure us that this one kind of crap will at least have some OK chuckles. Efficient!

Dance Flick: I have to say: this is not a bad idea. That alone sets it apart from just about every mainstream spoof movie of the past ten years with the exception of the completely awesome Walk Hard. The Wayans spoof factory pioneered the idea of “spoofing” movies that aren’t particularly serious or spoofable when they decided they could make a comedy out of the horror-slash-already-comedy Scream series; kinda dumb, though essentially harmless. Then Scary Movie co-writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer hijacked the spoof genre and drove it through the swamp of Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and, uh, Meet the Spartans (Stop-Gap Movie?). When it came out the other side, it was covered in catch-all pop-culture algae smelling an awful lot like MADTV. If you care about comedy, chances are the mere mention of any of the Friedberg-Seltzer spoof movies makes you cringe. Now the Wayans family has taken back the genre with Dance Flick, and their idea to kid the ubiquitous youth dance movies is pretty inspired, especially considering that from the looks of the trailer, they’re doing a real-deal composite type of spoof, not just imitating a bunch of “famous” individual scenes from Step Up, Stomp the Yard, Save the Last Dance, etc. That said, the trailer is miss-and-hit at best, and portends many over-cartoonish gags like the chick who gives birth on the dancefloor to a dancing CGI newborn. Uh huh. But if they fail, at least they’ll fail with a general understanding of what a spoof actually is.

The Girlfriend Experience: I say this is a good bet for the weekend if you, like me, really dig Steven Soderbergh and, like me, would be unlikely to watch a new Soderbergh movie at home, which I guess you can do via Amazon or your cable box or whatever. I’ll take the detouring experimental Soderbergh of Full Frontal and Bubble over the Erin Brockovich version any day (although, to be fair, Out of Sight remains his masterpiece), and this largely improvised movie full of non-actors, with a porn actress in the lead, sounds like just the trick following the epic nuts and bolts of Che.

Easy Virtue: Not so easy after Powder Blue! Hey-o! Wait, no, totally easy after Powder Blue! Hey-o? What was I saying again?