I’m not proud to announce this, but I’m one of the millions who put that big new CGI dinosaur movie at the top of the all-time list of summer “blockbusters” this past weekend.
Generally I’m not a fan of running out to get in a traffic jam or a giant crowd, but my dad wanted to see “Jurassic World” for some strange reason, as did my kids, so I was caught in an inescapable Father’s Day crossfire.
Without trying to give away the too much of the plot, let’s just say this movie was more or less the same as the original “Jurassic Park,” only with even more moments that made me wonder if it was written for a test audience of severely brain-damaged people. Still, it’s always kind of fun to go to a summer “blockbuster.” For people who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s especially, it’s a big part of what makes summer special.
I think “Jaws” may have been one of the original summer movies everyone had to see. And it was well worth it. When I went to the theater the other night I noticed it has been re-released this year. I guess too many people were getting in the water. Re-releasing “Jaws” has to be some kind of trick by the global warming crew to keep so many people from swimming in the ocean and peeing in the water, thus raising sea temperatures, which gives rise to more bloviating by Al Gore, whose hot breath destroys the ozone layer.
When I was a kid it was “Jaws,” then “Grease” and “Star Wars” leading into “E.T.” “E.T.” was out of hand. People were coming back from the grave to see it. My hometown of Gautier, Mississippi, for some reason at that time had two different multi-screen theaters in the same mall — and both were showing “E.T.”
I had a girlfriend at that time who forced me to see “E.T.” every weekend. We even had our first kiss in front of that gummy-looking alien — I think it was during the part when E.T. gets hammered. She quickly got up to go to the bathroom and a few minutes later had her friend come and tell me, “Debbie says you need to learn how to kiss.” The relationship didn’t go well and I always felt E.T. was disappointed to have flown across time and space to watch me strike out so badly. Thankfully he didn’t point his glowing finger at me and laugh. Sometimes I wonder if Debbie ever watches “E.T.” in her trailer with her 12 kids from five different fathers. But I digress.
We all know the blockbuster thing is usually marginal at best. There might be one a summer really worth seeing, but plenty are dogs full of bad plots, poor writing and terrible acting — and that’s just the previews. And, of course, too many these days are sequels that reuse the same catchphrases a million times — yippee ki-yay! — or remakes of old movies that weren’t so great to begin with.
Even with all of that there’s still a certain thrill to going to see the big-budget movie versus the cool indie film that wins 15 critics’ awards and has you wondering after you watch it if you’re not that smart, or if it’s just the movie that’s kind of dumb. (I’m looking right at you, “Birdman.”)
There’s really not much intellectual debate to be had after watching The Hulk break a bunch of stuff and Iron Man reel off one glib remark after another while fighting Norse gods. The first rule of thumb for the summer blockbuster is to keep it simple for us — lots of explosions, crashes, sex and close-ups.
That formula must work because when I went to see the dinosaur porn the other night, the place was packed. Poor Gautier now has zero movie theaters, so Schillinger Road is one of the closest places to catch a show. I even pre-ordered online to make sure we weren’t left out.
But it was so crowded in the theater the kids and I actually had to sit on the very first no-man’s-land row that’s about three feet from the screen. Making matters worse was having to wear those goofy 3D glasses. I was well on my way to a migraine headache when I managed to get a couple of the people on the row behind us to stop taking up two chairs apiece, so we moved back where we at least didn’t feel like we would be up T-Rex’s nose.
I know everyone has been to the movies, so complaining about the size and cost of drinks and food is a waste of ink. In fact, I actually have been very pleasantly surprised by at least one recent snack innovation at the theaters.
Back in the “E.T.” days, when you ordered your tub of popcorn it was a gamble as to whether you would get enough “butter,” or if you’d get any at all. It always seemed like the attendant treated the fake butter like it was gold and barely dribbled any on the popcorn at all. Now that greasy, oily movie “butter” is right out there in the open where we can get as much as we want. Most theaters even have several butter stations.
So when I got my popcorn the other night, I hit that butter station hard. I was there so long the woman waiting behind me sighed and headed for another station, which made me a little self-conscious. She seemed disgusted. My daughter shares my appreciation for heart-clogging pseudo butter, so after we’d devoured the top layer of popcorn she went back and drenched the remainder.
After the movie I had three giant butter stains on my shorts where I’d been holding the bag, which means they really need to tighten up on that popcorn bag technology if they’re going to let us butter our own popcorn. Glad I wasn’t wearing a tuxedo or a fancy dress.
Even if the movie wasn’t that great, I have to admit going to the big blockbuster movie was butter-good fun. It almost even made me nostalgic for my younger days watching movies with mean Debbie. Almost.