One of my favorite parts of The New Yorker are the movie reviews. I don't mean the glowing reviews of art house movies my non-Manhattan dwelling self will finally get from Netflix two years from now. I look forward to reading the fine print in the "Now Playing" section about mainstream movies I know the reviewers will hate, but they still discuss it in a ridiculously high brow manner. Summer blockbuster season is ideal for my viewing pleasure. Here is a collection of this week's gems:
Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay
"This cinematic burlesque show, in which the baggy pants keep dropping and occasionally fall off altogether, is perhaps the first bottomless comedy---much of the humor, and a fair amount of the nakedness, is concentrated below the belt." Superfluous plot details. "The Harold & Kumar movies, in their slovenly way, mark the transition to a post-racial society in which, as the Salon movie critic Stephanie Zacharek put it, 'no one in real life can say definitively what an American looks like.'"
"Robert Downey, Jr., as Tony Stark, billionaire arms manufacturer and playboy, almost completely dominated this whooshing junk pile."
"The Wachowski brothers, picking up where they left off with the 'Matrix' trilogy, resume the task of bludgeoning our senses into submission."
"The villain, personified by Roger Allam, turns out to represent big business: an interesting choice of target for a major motion picture."
What Happens in Vegas
"If the title is a question, then the answer is not much."
For what it's worth, I enjoyed Iron Man. It's not a great film, but if one can suspend reality, it's a thoroughly enjoyable film with a good message. Referring to Favreau's good comic book movie as a "whooshing junk pile" displays a gross misunderstanding of what the film is.
I did not love Speed Racer as a movie, but if I were allowed to edit about an hour from it, completely remove the bratty little kid who couldn't act and his monkey, there's something there. It still wouldn't be a good movie, but the visual aesthetics of the film cannot be ignored. It's beautiful, exciting and unique. Unfortunately, the art direction didn't have a script to work with. Still, the visual contribution to the medium of film should be noted.
Ultimately, the reason I adore reviews of less than brilliant movies in The New Yorker so much is their reviewers don't take intention into consideration. These writers don't have guilty pleasure scales. If Iron Man can't stand up to Then She Found Me (described as "an affecting comedy about bright people acting on their emotions and screwing things up"), no comic book escape clauses will be allowed. No points for enjoyment will be given. Thankfully, that's exactly what makes the biting reviews so enjoyable to read.