We've got summer blockbusters on the brain this week on the Hollywood Prospectus, and so we thought it'd be a good time to run back some of the summer movies we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts, the films that epitomize everything a summer movie should be. There will be explosions, there will be bus jumps, there will be fridge-nukes. But mostly, there will be our enduring love of summer escapism in its purest form. (Also, three-breasted hookers.)
I believe my esteemed colleague Mark Lisanti was the first person I heard refer to Pitch Perfect as Sing It On, which is at once an apt endorsement and an apt dismissal. Pitch Perfect is a well-executed, likable, and entertaining (unofficial) reboot of the 2000 film Bring It On, with a cappella choral performances in place of cheerleading. And I get it: If you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best. The problem is that Bring It On is actually perfect, so as a ripoff, Pitch Perfect is merely a very good facsimile that will probably just make you want to watch Bring It On again.
30 Rock and New Girl writer Kay Cannon wrote the screenplay for Pitch Perfect, so there are lots of goofy jokes along the way that may remind you of either of those shows. Annas Kendrick and Camp star, and since we've already seen them playing real grown-ups — the former as a hot shot HR executive in Up in the Air, and the latter as a stay-at-home mom in her 30s on The Mindy Project — it's not quite believable to see them playing college students here (particularly Kendrick, who's supposed to be a freshman). But despite its deficits, Pitch Perfect is still worth seeing, if for no other reason than for its many a cappella renditions of recent pop hits to knock "I Dreamed a Dream" out of your head, where it's been since you saw Les Misérables last week.
With Total Recall's disappointing debut at the box office — even in its third weekend, The Dark Knight Rises was not to be denied — it's time to start pointing fingers to determine the cause of the misfire. Was Colin Farrell a poor choice to reprise a role made famous by a legendary screen presence like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Was it a crucial creative mistake not to set the movie on Mars? Was a 22-year wait still not enough time to stage a successful reboot? We, of course, have our own theory: not enough three-boobed hooker. Not nearly enough. And so on Monday, we sat down for a chat with the three boobs themselves (Left, Center, and Mandi) to get their reaction to the movie's lukewarm reception, the squandered opportunity to let them save it, and the recipient of the attention that should be directed their way. Our brief conversation follows.
Since Bill Simmons is gorging on crumpets, Chuck Klosterman guest hosts the B.S. Report and chats casually with Grantland writer Alex Pappademas. The conversation begins with an analysis of Robert Pattinson's wrecked romantic life and eventually touches on Jennifer Aniston, Total Recall, and the undocumented history of sports and culture in Gotham City.
In the corner, wearing a beanie and two stud earrings, strumming a guitar, and talking about poetry, Colin Farrell is about to make out with your girlfriend, and all you can do is applaud him and hold his drink while he does it.
Editor's note: The Total Recall remake hits theaters this weekend, and aside from a few pro–Colin Farrell stalwarts who will not be named, most of us here at Grantland are just feeling misty for the Arnold Schwarzenegger action era of which the original was a vital part. Every Governator has his origin story, and this is Arnold's.
Young Arnold Schwarzenegger in Brazil
"Rio: one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It's hard to find more gorgeous beaches, mountains, and women anywhere. I came to Rio for Carnival. I'd heard a lot about it, but nothing could prepare me for a nonstop, five-day party where once a year the whole city goes absolutely crazy."
We'll keep this brief, because you've waited long enough for it. Remember the three-boobed hooker the upcoming Total Recall reboot's been promising you for months? (Of course you do. You've got one of those giant tear-off calendars on your wall to count down the days to the release date (August 3rd) so you can see a three-boobed hooker. Above that calendar is a sign that says "Three-Boobed Hooker Countdown Calendar.")
Silver: As a filmmaker, Spike Lee is at his best when he’s not directing a film he wrote. Clockers, 25th Hour, and Inside Man are Spike’s best work because in these films he’s a hired gun, and has no other options but to act as a pure storyteller. His tendency to veer into self-righteousness is kept in check by his producers (Martin Scorsese on Clockers, Edward Norton on 25th Hour, and Brian Grazer on Inside Man). Sure, there are exceptions — films that he’s written and directed like He’s Got Game or even Bamboozled work because it’s evident that Spike has something personal to say and visualized how he’s going to say it, and is not just preaching. Based on the trailer, I believe Red Hook Summer to be one of the exceptions. It feels very “Spike”, with its melodramatic music, flash cuts to handheld 16mm, and shots of forlorn folks looking directly into the camera, but what intrigues me is that Red Hook Summer appears to be a coming-of-age story. It’ll be interesting to see how Spike sees “today” through the eyes of children. I have no doubt that this film will be divisive and in some way filled with controversy (Spike wouldn’t want it any other way), but this one looks like it’ll be worth the time.
Some months ago, upon the release of an earlier Total Recall trailer, our esteemed colleague Alex Pappademas fretted, Hey, where's that nice, tri-mammaried sex-worker from outer space? I don't see her here, and I was explicitly guaranteed the return of a mutant prostitute with three breasts. (We paraphrase, but that was the thrust of the piece.) Sure, if you dug deeply enough into the movie blogs, you could find promises that the new Recall team knew where its triple-boobed bread is buttered, but the video evidence of such was nonexistent.
[This week, we pour one out for the late, great Ray Bradbury (and geek out over the impending release of Prometheus) with our favorite sci-fi clips. Note: If you don't see the videos, please try another browser. We put them in, we promise.]
Dan Silver: Frack off, Battlestar Galactica. I love you, but there’s been no piece of sci-fi created in the last decade (maybe two) that has been able to sniff the space jock of Duncan Jones’s brilliant Moon. Its dexterity in construction is rivaled only by Sam Rockwell’s (most heartbreaking Oscar snub of 2009) performance. I’ve sat through this movie at least five times, and am constantly amazed by Jones’s seamless blend of computer-generated landscapes and CGI with practical effects, and consistently haunted by Clint Mansell’s score. If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a favor and Netflix it now.
Silver: Sacha Baron Cohen better be careful. He’s scarily close to crossing the dreaded “Mike Myers Line.” That’s when a brilliant comic writer/performer rests on his/her past success and just recycles bits (I believe the line, “Exsqueeze Me? Baking Powder” appeared in both Wayne’s World films and at least one Austin Powers movie). I send this warning to Mr. Cohen because I believe him to be a true talent, but from what we can see (plot-wise) from this latest The Dictator trailer, he’s once again telling a story of a gregarious and politically incorrect outsider who comes to America with his trusty sidekick (here, Ben Kingsley), and after some misfortune, is left to fend for himself. Unlike Myers, I trust Cohen’s “in-between” stuff (better known as “the jokes”) to be fresher and more biting. But for his next film (not one in which he just acts), I’d like to see Cohen try to challenge himself. He’s a brilliant performer, and I’d rather see his career go the way of Peter Sellars than of Mike Myers.
Rem, please tell me you can make me feel better about this one.