One of Hollywood's worst trends lately is their insistence on making sequels no one asked for based off movies few people liked. Now You See Me 2 isn't really even all that bad (thanks largely to Mark Ruffalo) but it's not all that great either, and did anyone walk out of the first one wishing for more? Same with Neighbours 2, which opened last month, or Alice: Through the Looking Glass (now playing) or Underworld: Bloodwars, unnecessarily hitting screens in October.
Looking deeper: halfhearted Internet research shows that there are 37 sequels (not remakes, pure sequels) slated for wide release in 2016. That's out of about 180 total films: these numbers seem to suggest the plague of sequels isn't as bad as it seems. But in a small market like Whistler we see only a fraction of those 180 new releases each year but still get most of those sequels. Hollywood remains convinced that spoon-feeding us familiarity is the best way to make money.
And sometimes it is: The Conjuring 2 made $40 million on opening weekend and The Purge: Election Year looks incredible (it drops just in time for American Independence Day). But both of those are horror movies and horror sequels work because they're relatively cheap and respect their place in the genre. Also, horror audiences don't care if you give them more of a good thing, they're just happy to feel like they're not alone in the dark. Like there is someone out there who understands.
Children are the same, only worse. In a massive world of craziness, kids actually crave the comforts of familiarity — they'll watch the same garbage over and over so long as it has colour and sounds. Hollywood knows children will drag their parents (or at least whatever parent loses the rock-paper-scissors) to every crappy sequel they can. This week it's Finding Dory, the latest Pixar film opens Friday at the unsinkable Village 8.
Except, by all accounts Finding Dory is a hit. Certainly, the find-my-family plot is purposefully lifted from Finding Nemo but that's to be expected. Much like a merchandise-savvy hermit crab that outgrew its shell and moved to a slightly larger and shinier shell that is otherwise exactly the same, no one can fault Disney/Pixar for sticking with what works. It's evolution. As well, Finding Dory is written/directed by Andrew Stanton, who did the first one and has worked on almost every Pixar hit you can think of.
Early word is Finding Dory brings all kinds of emotional punch that will both teach children that it's OK to feel overwhelmed in that aforementioned massive, crazy, garbage-filled thing called life; but also that there is always love out there for you somewhere. Dory has humour, wit, and "a steady element of pathos."
But here's the thing, it all hinges on Dory, the ultra-forgetful sidekick fish, and I'd rather dry-shave scrotum with a rusty potato peeler than commit to a feature-length serving of that bug-eyed, rambling blue, ultra annoying Dory.
I don't think it is Ellen Degeneres' voice acting (although her TV show annoys the shit out of me too), but something about Dory has always rubbed me the wrong way. It could be just that shade of the colour blue because I think The Blue Man group lick ass too (mimes with a gimmick). And yet The Smurfs are OK and Cookie Monster is OK so that doesn't add up. Really, I think it is Dory herself: her utter uselessness and staccato, frantic demeanour is just not for me. I'm sure Finding Dory will satisfy 85 per cent of everyone who sees it (and all the kids), but for me this fish story needs to be thrown back. Watch Memento instead, if you really like memory-loss movies.
Also opening this week, Central Intelligence is so smart they did not allow for press screenings. With horror movies that makes sense but with action-comedies it's almost never a good sign. A cool guy and his loser friend from high school save the world in a 20-years-later-roll-reversal situation, but with The Rock and Kevin Hard as leads, and the director of Dodgeball and We're the Millers there is a tiny chance this will be a good renter.
Speaking of, Zootopia is the download of the week: an original story, for kids, with killer animation, a developed mystery plot, solid adult in-jokes, and a nice moral ending to boot. For people looking for the opposite, London Has Fallen is yet another sequel you probably skipped the first time.