The truth is almost always ugly. So let's make believe...
Imagine that once a year all the big Hollywood studio people get together for a drug-fueled orgy of peacock posturing while half-listening to each other. Somewhere in there they cooperate on what to do with all those stupid ideas they financed throughout the year that were too expensive to send straight to DVD/download.
Similar to how libraries will have a "fines-waived" day once a year to get back truant library books or the garbage dump will have "no fee" day to encourage people to stop hoarding useless shit in their own backyards, Hollywood uses the hype of awards season to unload their most embarrassing efforts. Welcome to Dump Month, the cinematic doldrums of January/February.
OK, now imagine if someone told you "Steampunk is the next big thing with the kids!" so you bankrolled a huge period piece in which Hansel and Gretel are grown up and hunt witches with retro-industrial age looking Gatling guns and fully automatic crossbows. Sure thing right? Why not toss an academy award nominee Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker, The Town) in there beside the Quantum of Solace Bond girl and shoot the whole thing in 3D! But then the movie comes back loud and occasionally awesome, but mostly kind of dumb. And none of the other studios' "Children's-fairy-tale-updated-to-include-two-huge-battle-sequences" movies made a lot of cash either. So what do you do? Dump it in January and congratulate yourself on how much you saved on the rights to the source material, the Grimm Brothers are long dead right?
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters opens in 2D and 3D this Friday at the Village 8. It's rated R, had no press screenings and looks to be my kind of stupid.
Totally imaginary scenario Number Two — Your third wife is divorcing you and your spoiled teenage kids suddenly hate your guts. Your mind starts to wander at work, but there is budget to spend. You loved how much money There's Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber made so you let the oldest Farrelly Brother talk you into an ensemble piece, "Something like Love Actually only not total crap." The cast is a laundry list of talent including Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Richard Gere, Chloe Moretz, Hugh Jackman, Anna Farris, Stifler, McLovin, Knoxville and Emma Stone! Perfect! That's a sure thing right?
Oops! It's also got a dozen other directors and is really just a loose collection of raunchy juvenile humour about glass-bottom-boats and early menstruation. The most offensive part is how poorly it all works together and suddenly none of the 20 or so "name" actors involved want anything to do with promotion? Problem? No way, just make sure there are no previews and slot it in for January!
Yes, Movie 43 also opens Friday. It looks terrible but if you're in the right kind of dumbed down state of mind it just might be one of those cult classics where you can later say, "Oh yeah man, I saw it in an empty theatre."
These Hollywood studio scenarios are all hypothetical of course. Who knows what went wrong with Parker, the new Jason Statham/Jennifer Lopez revenge flick that sees Statham do his thing while wearing a lot of dumb costumes. Apparently there's a pretty good knife fight but chances are this one won't cut it.
But you can avoide cinematic doldrums by checking out Bully, a top notch feature doc about bullying in U.S. schools, when it plays Jan. 30 at Millennium Place as part of the Arts Council's Monthly Movie Series.