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WHY HOLLYWOOD NEEDS TO MAKE STUPID MOVIES by COOP

Posted on June 5th, 2009
Posted on June 5th, 2009


“Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” Did you see it?

I didn’t.

Looked insulting, idiotic and – dare I say – stupid. Kevin James doesn’t amuse me in the slightest and I couldn’t imagine anyone liking it… but by May of 2009 it had made $145 million domestically.

It scored a mere 33% on RottenTomatoes.com (meaning only 33% of movie critics gave it a positive review)! How could this happen?

Let me explain…

There are many reasons why a so-called “stupid” movie like “Paul Blart” might succeed. A market exists for all types of comedy, but a very large one exists that the critics tend to dismiss: The live-action, family-friendly comedy that even Dad wouldn’t mind seeing.

Pretend you’re the patriarch of a typical American family. You come home Friday afternoon after a tough week at work. You’ve labored long and hard to pay the bills and provide for your family. Time for a family night out, dinner and a movie. Dinner is an easy chain-restaurant pick, but what to watch? You’ve got an equally tired wife who works as hard as you do and 2.5 kids that you can’t (or shouldn’t) take to an R-rated movie. You need a flick that’s safe for everyone. So many movies out there are outrageously violent, gory, obscene or full of rampant nudity. You don’t want to see any kiddie cartoons or talking dogs, and neither do your teenagers. Hey, here’s one starring that Kevin James guy from “King of Queens.” You remember the missus and yourself laughing once or twice while watching his show. It’s PG. Looks harmless enough for the youngsters. We have a winner.

I just described a massive portion of the population of the United States. Makes a bit more sense now, doesn’t it?

Not everyone wants to watch a cerebral potboiler, no matter how PG. Factor religion, appropriateness and children into the equation and there aren’t as many choices out there for families as you think. Sure, there are a lot of kids movies but a lot of fathers might feel insulted by having to sit through “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Dad (and maybe the wife) would probably rather go see “Taken” but with the kids around, he’s got to find a happy medium.

“Blart” is that happy medium. Case solved.

But what about all those other stupid movies out there? The “______ Movie” franchise (insert “Scary,” “Date,” “Dance,” “Disaster,” etc…) are aimed squarely at teens. They take current pop-culture references and spoof them using potty humor and slapstick. Teens relish them because these films breech a lot of subjects that remain off limits in their home life. They get in trouble if they engage in potty humor, gross-out jokes or crude sexual humor at home. While watching a spoof film like “Scary Movie” they can experience these taboos cathartically without the threat of mom and dad looming over their shoulder. It’s a safe haven for them to laugh at things considered too raunchy for home or school.

Modern spoof films aim to one-up the similarly themed comedies of the 80’s such as “Airplane!” and the “Naked Gun” series, by overloading on inappropriate excess. I remember getting a kick out of this particular brand of comedy with yuk-fests like “Top Secret!” and “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka!” when I reached my pre-teens. Who’s to say I wouldn’t laugh at “Scary Movie” if I came of age in the double-0’s? Case solved.

What about the REALLY stupid movies like “G-Force,” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks?” Yeah, those are for the 12 and under crowd. The filmmakers might throw in a joke or two that parents might appreciate but these movies are primarily designed to hold the attention of the tiniest of movie patrons, especially the ones with severe ADD. Case solved.

I agree plenty of high quality films made for all audiences exist. Many of these exceptional examples of filmmaking (ex- “Up,” “Kung-Fu Panda,” “Wall-E,” “The Incredibles,” etc…) are cartoons and often eliminate the interest of the parents. While you or I may not appreciate it, Hollywood will always need the live-action “happy medium” movie to appeal to that very large demographic.

I’ll always prefer my horror films, dark comedies, violent sci-fi and humorless thrillers to “Blart”… But I give him a reluctant amount of respect. Any overweight mall security guard who can make $145 million (and counting) within 6 months is nothing to sneeze at.

-Coop

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