Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: So Far, Universal's 100th Anniversary Is...a Bit Underwhelming

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.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar