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Some pretty good flicks in summer’s rear view mirror

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

Well, summer is once again in the rear view mirror and so a wrap up column seems to be in order.

No cynics, it has nothing to do with the fact that there are no movies worth a second glance right now. Well, maybe a touch.
It was a busy summer, especially from the point of view of family entertainment. There were a lot of good ones, the most notable being Despicable Me 2. First of all, it was almost as good as the first one. It has this really sweet and endearing quality about it and has some genuinely original characters. We all need minions. It grossed 359 million dollars It was the 2nd biggest film of the summer and given the limited budget which was a reasonable 76m it was easily one of the most profitable. Animation isn’t just for kids these days and Hollywood should pay attention.

The rest of the family entertainment pack was strong in terms of business. Monsters U did a respectable 265m and was entertaining but for me, it missed a note. It just didn’t hold my interest. That doesn’t mean it’s not a cute film. I’m not exactly in their demographic. It just wasn’t great. Turbo was a much more entertaining picture. It was original charming and of course had great animation. It seemed to get caught in the crush of competition and didn’t knock the doors off at the box office but 81m is still impressive. Smurfs 2 and Planes contributed 150 m combined but they were very pedestrian. Still it was nice as an exhibitor to have some films to show to families. With  a combined total box of 850 million dollars, hopefully this becomes a trend.

Iron Man 3 was the monster of the summer. It broke the 400 million plateau and it really was quite good. They have a winning franchise here and Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man. The characters are growing and it’s a great cast but this is RDJ’s show. Marvel is visionary, and now that they’re producing their own films, they control the creative content and the profits. Good days ahead.The second installment of Thor is next on the dance card.

Speaking of comic books, and don’t you just love those naturally occurring segues? Man Of Steel did well as the book but I thought it was disappointing. It just didn’t get it done for me in terms of creating a memorable character Henry Cavill is ok, but there was just something missing. Spiderman reinvented itself. Man of Steel seemed to just do more of the same. Still it almost touched 300 million and we know there’s any number of sequels coming. Maybe it will get better. Maybe not.

Comedies are always big and a couple were worth watching. We’re The Millers was a little picture that caught fire and as a result exceeded expectations. At 131 million and still going, it had the best preview reel of any film this summer and they saved some funny parts for the film. Great casting and I have to admit, a good performance by Jennifer Aniston, helped, and it was genuinely funny.

The Heat with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock playing Bad Cop Good Cop was pedestrian but successful – 150m successful. I was disappointed. It wasn’t a bad pic but it was nowhere near as funny as it could have been. And it dragged. Still audiences seemed to like it and MM is a real live movie star.

What can I tell you about Grown Ups 2? People buy tickets but that doesn’t make it worth seeing. In a similair but funnier version, Seth Rogan who is the new Adam Sandler, had This Is The End and it was funny and profitable. Coming soon to a DVD store near you.
There was some other big action films WWZ surprised me with how strong it was – 200 million and a good role for Brad Pitt. Not shabby. Wolverine I thought was disappointing but it still knocked down 120 mill. White House Down was an old school fun action picture and Now You See Me was quirky and interesting. They all broke 100m.
So there were a lot of hits.
A few surprises I really enjoyed Pacific Rim and I thought I would hate it.
The Internship was a big disappointment. Who would have guessed that Vince Vaughn’s act would get tired?

There weren’t huge bombs but RIPD got killed by critics and at the box office. No surprise. The trailer stunk.
I think the biggest bomb of the summer was The Lone Ranger. It bombed in terms of box office and the critics didn’t like it but it was interesting. It was just too long. And too expensive. Of course Johnny Depp was interesting.
So all in all it was a good summer. Not exceptional but man there were a lot of movies that didn’t suck. Believe me, most years that’s a victory.
I even think it was hot a couple of days. Who would have guessed? Oh and it didn’t rain every Saturday. Insert the Edwin Hawkins Singers singing Oh Happy Day here.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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