Having a crappy week? Blame the date! According to the Internet and pseudoscientist radio personalities everywhere, last Monday was "Blue Monday," the most depressing day of the year.
We know that is not true because most of us in Whistler were busting fresh pow laps in the alpine on Monday but the truth is "Blue Monday" is a marketing gimmick designed back in 1995 to sell holidays for a company called Sky Travel. Since then the rest of the free marketplace has caught up and this year everyone from Ferrari to Tetley Tea were shilling their wares with the #bluemonday hashtag. "We're not lying to them," said every marketing manager ever, "we're just manipulating their emotions."
Having said that, this is also the week those holiday credit card bills come in just as you realize how few of those New Years' resolutions you actually followed through on. It's still dark by the time you get home from the office and there's a nasty respiratory illness wreaking havoc on an under-rested population that's waiting for winter to arrive.
In the movie theatres this week is also the beginning of the cinematic doldrums—when studios release some of their worst crap of the year as all the hype focuses on Awards Season. You can see why the Blue Monday marketing sticks; the glass might look half empty from a lot of angles.
So why not fight back with some guilty pleasures? Got a thing for regurgitated, shoot-em-up sequels? Taken 3 is showing in the Whistler Village 8 this week and Liam Neeson is back on the run, this time after being framed for his wife's murder while simultaneously trying to protect his daughter from the real villains. Directed by Olivier Megaton (Taken 2, Transporter 3) this one is stupid and loud (like the others) but Neeson survives a couple exploding car wrecks and the bad guys are Russians this time so that makes it socially relevant right? No... but if you like banal predictability and mindless revenge-porn, this one is for you.
Also opening this week: Johnny Depp's latest flop, Mortdecai, which had no press screenings (bad sign) but somehow also stars the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum. Depp, whom many people still love despite a pretty serious string of non-hits, seems to be playing a cross between Austin Powers and Jack Sparrow dropped into a third rate Wes Anderson high school knock-off. It might be good (you'd think Paltrow wouldn't waste her time otherwise) but I suggest you buy the extra bag of M&M's for this one, just in case.
Speaking of guilty pleasures (with a heavy emphasis on "guilty") Jennifer Lopez plays a teacher who screws a student at her son's school and then acts surprised when her whole life goes down the shitter in The Boy Next Door. Now playing.
And Strange Magic is the latest animated flick from Lucasfilm. Apparently it's a musical inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream only with goblins, fairies and popular music from the 1950s onward. No press screenings on this one either but from the trailer it looks to be somewhere in between gout and shingles on the "good times" scale. Skip this at all costs.
Honestly, it seems the real guilty pleasures of Blue Monday Week will probably come from staying home and downloading stuff. I always recommend Blue Crush, the greatest "napping hungover on the couch" movie of all time. This one has cute girls, crashing surf, sunny beaches, a streamlined plot, happy music and a "yes you can" vibe. It was also based on a Susan Orleans (The Orchid Thief/Adaptation) article, which goes to show what good writing can do (here's looking at you Blue Crush 2).
The other download of the week is VH1's CrazySexyCool — The TLC Story. This hidden gem is a note-perfect reenactment of the 1990s power-trio who mixed R&B, funk and hip hop to multiplatinum success. But the real story revolves around how they got shafted by their label/managers and there are plenty of heartbreaks and house fires to keep things moving along quickly. It ends in tragedy of course but this is quality nostalgia and a good reminder of the dangers that lurk when you go chasing waterfalls.
On the real though: Blue Monday might be a crock of shit but actual real depression is not and people need to stop treating it like a character defect and start realizing it is a medical condition, and a dangerous one at that. Every couple years, right here in paradise, someone struggles and doesn't make it, so keep an eye on your people and trust your instincts — if you see someone going down, help them up. There are brighter days ahead.