Universal Pictures (a Comcast company!) turned 100 years old on April 30. Overall, it's been a decent century, from their classic horror films of the '30s and '40s through postwar abundance to the subsequent focus on television production. Sure, Universal's released its share of dogs (how many freaking Francis the Talking Mule movies were there?), but also a fair number of classics like Dracula, The Wolf Man, To Kill a Mockingbird, American Graffiti, High Plains Drifter, Jaws, E.T., Schindler's List...not too shabby for a hundred years.
To commemorate this milestone, the studio has been leading off its 2012 releases with an updated version of its classic globe logo (seen above). And maybe it's just me, but a fair number of this year's movies may not have made the likes of Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg's waistcoats swell with pride.
Big Miracle The only consolation I took away from this latest attempt to force Drew Barrymore ("THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU CAN DO") down our throats was the (probably mistaken) conclusion that its poor performance was due to people finally realizing they'd been duped into caring about those stupid whales in the first place.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax It's pointless to say Hollywood never learns when it comes to adapting Theodore Geisel's works, because with the exception of Mike Myers's Cat in the Hat, all of them have been solid box-office successes. That didn't prevent The Lorax from devolving into an unironically grotesque marketing exercise (production company Illumination Entertainment signed 70 separate product deals, including one for a Mazda SUV and another for disposable diapers) that, to put it gently, took a giant steaming dump on Geisel's original work.
American Reunion The American [event noun] movies have always done fairly well, so the decision to go with another one some nine years after the last cinematic installment was probably made in the hopes of capitalizing on millennial nostalgia and America's love of pie fucking. It also didn't hurt that none of the principal actors have been successful enough to command much more than what they made in 1999.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, American History X is *not* an official part of the franchise, though it took me the longest time to realize it. I just assumed Stifler had finally gotten fed up with Jim's moralizing and decided he hated all Jews.
The Five-Year Engagement I don't care how affable he is on screen and how much he loves the Muppets, Jason Segel needs to give us a break. There are other people making comedies besides Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow and their assorted cronies. Check these guys out, for starters.
Battleship My review of this "film" will be up tomorrow. For now, I'll just say: Peter Berg is a hack, I take back everything remotely kind I once said about Taylor Kitsch, and your expectations - should you foolishly decide to purchase a ticket -- will never be low enough. The worst part? They don't even say the fucking line.
And what about the rest of 2012? Maybe you shouldn't ask:
Snow White and the Huntsman -- "They have a cave troll." No, seriously, the entire basis of this movie is that Kristen Stewart will once day be "fairer" than Charlize Theron? I suppose that's possible, assuming someone taught Stewart a second facial expression and a marmoset gnawed Theron's nose off.
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Ted - A character ripped off from Wilfred that talks like Peter Griffin from Family Guy? *That'll* stop people from calling you a derivative one-trick pony for sure, Seth MacFarlane.
Savages -- Normally an Oliver Stone production of a Don Winslow novel would have intrigued me, but...TAYLOR KITSCH.
The Man with the Iron Fists -- This is another of those great/terrible coin-flip flicks. Russell Crowe and Pam Grier starring in a movie set in...feudal China? Directed by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. There aren't enough Ws, Ts and Fs in the world.
This Is 40 -- What were we just talking about? I'll lay the over/under on how many times we see Paul Rudd or Leslie Mann using the bathroom in an awkward fashion at 2.5. And is that Jason Segel? Fucking. Awesome.