Either movie titles are making these columns easier than ever to name or we're just not trying hard enough. Hell, if the studios and the whores they rely on cannot be bothered to, why should we? The critical numbers on this week's openers again do not lie and feed directly into Criticwatch's two biggest pet peeves. Whores who come out to hype bad movies and studios using those same whores to hype their best ones. Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opening almost ten years to the day since their Tim Burton reboot, ranks #8 amongst all the summer movies at Rotten Tomatoes. It's 81% approval rating is just a few spots below Fox's other franchise reawakening in X-Men: First Class. Yet both films were withheld from the majority press (Apes more than X-Men) until the Tuesday before release, drawing speculation from industry analysts and critics why when both are a step above their predecessors and most of the seasonal fare. More faith in your product, Fox! On the other end of the spectrum is Universal's The Change-Up which ranks fifth from the bottom of the summer barrel and yet there are those who want to tell you it is the funniest film of the year. Which is really sad.
Right down there with The Smurfs and this summer's other Ryan Reynolds turd, Green Lantern, The Change-Up gave us something on the commercials we have never seen before. See if you can pick it out.
"Will make you laugh, yell and even wince. But that's part of the fun." - Ron Henriques, Latinoreview.com "Fully worthy of its R-rating. Genuinely rude, outrageous and funny." - Stephen Rebello "Your face will hurt from laughing so hard!" - Steven Weintraub, Collider "The funniest movie of the year." - Stanley T., Sirius XM
If you're trying to compare the newspaper ads to the TV ones, sorry but the answer is not the change-up of Weintraub's quote which goes from "Your face will hurt from laughing so hard!" to "You'll laugh so hard your face will hurt." This is the same Steven Weintraub who called last year's horrifically bad actioner, The Losers "extremely funny." So take your comedy advice from him lightly. No, go back to Mr. Ron Henriques' line there. Have you ever heard someone recommend a film to you because it is so good you will "YELL?!!!" Scream, shout, or cheer maybe, but YELL? One tends to yell out of anger or to get attention. It's not a viable action within a movie theater unless someone is talking or texting within your reach. Believe me, I certainly wanted to yell at The Change-Up for being one of the worst, most misogynistic comedies to come down the pike, but I doubt writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore could hear me. Maybe you can try if you dare to go. Why not? The studios clearly endorse Mr. Henriques' statement.
As for Stanley T. from Sirius XM (pictured right with Ryan Reynolds) asserting that this is "the funniest movie of the year," get in line, pal.
"The funniest movie of the year." (Hall Pass) - Carrie Keagan "The funniest movie of the year." (Horrible Bosses) - Scott Bowles "**** The funniest comedy of the year!" (Horrible Bosses) - Shawn Edwards "Even if you never saw the TV show, this is the funniest movie of the year!" (Exporting Raymond) - David Yong, Tonightatthemovies.com "The best romantic comedy of the year!" (Something Borrowed) - Andrew Freund, Myspace.com "Best romantic comedy of the year!" (Jumping the Broom) - Jawn Murray, Tom Joyner Morning Show "The year's funniest film." (Bad Teacher) - Silas Lesnick, Comingsoon.net "The best comedy of 2011...period." (Bridesmaids) - Pete Hammond
For a change, Pete Hammond and I actually agree. I might change "period" to "so far" but our rankings are nevertheless in sync. And here is where we part ways again.
"This summer's freshest, raunchiest, smartest comedy surprise. A movie fully charged with huge booming laughs and a big heart. Wanna have a good time, DO NOT MISS THIS MOVIE!" - Pete Hammond
So, Hammond's idea of a "comedy surprise" over the years has consisted of The Ringer, (Untitled), and What Just Happened? Granted there has been a distinct lack of body-switching movies released in the summer of 2011 (unless you counted the impersonating going on in Harry Potter, X-Men and Cowboys & Aliens) but in what universe can anyone ever refer to this idea as "fresh?" Plus, Hammond has no business talking about comedy surprises this summer when he's already been out full force on the following:
"Hilarious & heartwarming." (Mr. Popper's Penguins) "A total gas! Cars 2 revs up the action and laughs. Even better than the first." (Cars 2) "The perfect summer comedy. Pure solid-gold entertainment! Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts prove to be a dream screen team." (Larry Crowne) "Smart, sexy and funny. Something Borrowed is something terrific. The entire cast shines!" (Something Borrowed) "The best comedy of 2011...period. More laugh out loud moments...than any comedy in memory. This is the group everyone is going to want to hang with this summer." (Bridesmaids)
With the exception of Bridesmaids, none of those "comedies" received a fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Between The Change-Up and Something Borrowed, in fact, Hammond has recommended to you two of the five worst reviewed films of the summer. Listen up studios, by association, putting Pete Hammond's name on your ads makes it an immediate must-miss. Apologies to films like Trust, In a Better World and even Bridesmaids, but if audiences follow that little piece of advice to a tee, they will be avoiding more bad movies than good.
Thankfully, that advice does not apply to Fox's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a very good film that has turned into one of the true surprises of the summer. Reviews have been stellar for the relatively unknown British director, Rupert Wyatt, who did a helluva job with his first big-budget endeavor. It's too bad Fox kept the film from critics for so long, they could have had more positive reviews than just their stable of whores.
"A groundbreaking piece of cinema." - Kevin McCarthy "Stunning. Emotionally charged and action packed!" - Andrew Freund, Myspace
Last week, we showed you just how easy Kevin McCarthy is to please. And apparently Fox is one of the last studios to continue using MySpace. At least to find critics. Yes, that's the same Andrew Freund you saw earlier this piece calling the third worst-reviewed wide release of the summer, Something Borrowed, "The best romantic comedy of the year!" We still have two more whores to go, though, thanks to Fox.
"Apes rule! Gripping, suspenseful, provocative, fast-paced and extremely entertaining!" - Scott Mantz
That's the tool from Access Hollywood using every adjective and adjective-on-top-of-adjectives in his repertoire. Seriously, pretty much every one.
"Gripping and engaging!" (Even Money) "Powerful, provocative and deeply engaging." (Rendition) "Fast-paced, gripping and provocative" (Law-Abiding Citizen) "Powerful, gripping and provocative…don’t miss it!" (Nothing But the Truth) "A provocative, pulse-pounding action thriller! Gripping, riveting and totally engaging – will keep you on the edge of your seat!" (The Kingdom) "Scary, gripping and very intense!" (The Last Exorcism) "Gripping, intense and very entertaining. Mel Gibson returns with a vengeance! It will keep you on the edge of your seat." (Edge of Darkness) "Smart and gripping! A top-notch political thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Crowe is at the top of his game!" (State of Play) "A smart, gripping, fast-paced and immensely entertaining suspense thriller! A crowd-pleaser all the way!" (The Next Three Days)
Someone show that guy a thesaurus. But not the door looking to hit him on the ass. Wow! But leave it to one of the staples of Criticwatch to close the door on this week's column. Last week, Warner Bros. found themselves back into the Ben Lyons game, which had almost ceased to exist in 2011. With only two quotes for Arthur and Country Strong (which can even be listed as a 2010 release), Lyons has nevertheless wormed his way into an additional two quotes in two weeks for Crazy, Stupid, Love and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, for which he says:
"Finally! An intelligent and well-crafted summer blockbuster." - Ben Lyons
Now, surely his lack of whoredom on any of the big blockbusters this summer does suggest that one has finally broken through his usually feeble gray matter. But Criticwatch occasionally digs a little deeper and we found it hard to believe that Junior Lyons had really been THAT unimpressed with the offerings of Summer '11.
Exhibit A - His video movie reviews from July 14.
Sure he blasts crap like Transformers and Green Lantern as many sensible critics have, but is the final Harry Potter not considered a blockbuster by either its big-budget intentions or the fact that it will soon be the highest grossing film of the year? Lyons uses terms like "wonderful" and "action-packed" and how much he "loves" these films. At least enough to give away the ending for those who may not have read the books. Nevertheless he ends the video by saying how "disappointed" we've been with all the big studio blockbusters this summer before announcing how he's going to cover his 7th Comicon where nothing ever is overhyped by the studios and fanboys. Right? But precisely how disappointed has ol' Ben really been with the big flicks this summer?
Exhibit B - His video movie reviews from May 20:
Yes, that is him telling us that despite not being a fan of "the other Pirates movies" that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides tells a "nice, tight, clean story." Not exactly a rave until he suggests that it's actually a "fun, huge, swashbuckling adventure in the true spirits of the Pirates franchise." Wait a second - did he not just say he wasn't a fan of the other films? How can this one be in the true spirit of films he didn't like? "As good as the first one, if not better," Lyons says, "way better than two and three." Whatever, I Am Legend. We just want to know how a "fun, huge, swashbuckling adventure" that is the first of THREE movies (including Harry Potter) this summer to gross a BILLION dollars worldwide is not in the category of blockbuster you have labeled Apes with.
Exhibit C - His video movie reviews from May 10.
Here he talks about the "very well-directed" Thor, with its "awesome" action scenes. Before telling us that he "liked this movie a lot" he refers to it as "THE BIGGEST MOVIE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW." Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor - three of the six highest grossing (domestic AND worldwide) films of the summer. Lyons liked them all but somehow Rise of the Planet of the Apes...what was that quote again?
"Finally! An intelligent and well-crafted summer blockbuster." - Ben Lyons
All you have to do is think before you speak sometimes, Ben, and you won't say such stupid things. We think that's all, anyway. What we do know though is that if only studios would start screening stuff earlier for press not interested in free trips and craft services, they could change things up for the better and get some intelligent critics with well-crafted quotes for their movies.