Since forever, Hollywood has prospered by taking an original idea and reverberating its life force into oblivion. This is what us cigar-waving Tinseltown experts call “industry trends” whilst hucking Moxie cans from shiny convertibles. If a film did well this year, you bet your ass there will be ten more identical ones following along like mediocre ducklings. And going by that sliver of knowledge, it’s actually quite easy to paint a picture of the upcoming cinematic landscape of copy/paste movies. Simply go by what has succeeded so far …
The early 2000s was a dark time in America, following September 2001’s attack of the movie Hardball.
Working at a movie theater at the time, I was right there when it happened. I could literally touch the posters. Luckily, our nation found solace during the following week when Zoolander came out. Little by little, we learned to laugh again with good comedies like Legally Blonde and Wet Hot American Summer. Not only was that year filled with comedy, but also a broad spectrum of it, from Bridget Jones’s Diary to How High to Joe Dirt. Hell, 2001 was even the year we got Super Troopers. And now, for some bizarre reason, we’re reliving every single one of the films I just mentioned.
“Corky Romano v. Deuce Bigalow: Dawn Of Fuck This. Coming 2018.”
I’m not complaining — just really, really confused about why Hollywood simultaneously became nostalgic for this oddly specific era of comedy. It’s like how in 2002 we were flooded with goofball spy films like Austin Powers, Spy Kids, and iSpy. Remember how weird that was?
See? Wait …
Oh right. You don’t have to remember because that’s also happening again. We’re totally just doing early 2000s comedy again, you guys — down to sequels to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Bad Santa.
And those details are “We’re not kidding, Bad Santa 2 is happening.”
Again, save for maybe that pointless Cabin Fever remake, I don’t hate the prospect of reliving any of these films … but it’s also not hard to cynically think that they are less about continuing the rich story of Zoolander and more about brand recognition. On the bright side, perhaps we’ll get that Kung Pow sequel I know everyone is begging for. Can you imagine how much nuts that would be?
But this isn’t the only era we’re about to get flooded with baffling reminiscence for …
Hey, ’90s film kids, remember all the rage-nostalgia that went into fighting the switch from film to digital? It wasn’t just the look of film, but the implied deliberation and craft that goes into burning light onto an expensive film reel as opposed to doing take after take on some training-wheels 4K abomination. We weren’t just yearning for some old-timey quality because it looked old, right? Otherwise, you’d see jackasses getting all elitist over the turd-fog of gargled VHS tapes.
Okay, shit, maybe it is just blind nostalgia for an older look. Because VHS is totally coming back in viral whims. For example, there’s the wildly successful Kung Fury short (soon to become a full-length film), which homages the look of shitty ’80/’90s home video the way Tarantino and Rodriguez aped broken ’70s grindhouse reels.
Except people actually watched this one.
As someone who first saw Aliens on my best friend’s TV-pirated VHS copy, I can assure you that there’s nothing fun about watching the snuff-porn-quality version of your favorite movies. And yet the more I exist, the more I see nostalgia for this irrelevant garbage format. Even Deadpool released a new trailer done to look like one of the inescapable previews you’d fast-forward through on some grainy Hollywood Video rental.
Nothing says “’90s” like a hashtag.
But it’s not just the quality of VHS being imitated here. It’s also the camp of the VHS era, with (albeit terrific) films like Red Letter Media‘s Space Cop and Turbo Kid — the latter takes place in the “future year” of 1997. Between this and movies like Straight Outta Compton and Dope romanticizing the fucking terrible style of the time, I wouldn’t be surprised if 2016 is the year I find myself in handcuffs and arson gear outside of a JNCO revival factory.
These pants were practically engineered for the cleanse of flame.
We’re so damn conditioned by the swarm of reboots and cinematic universes that whether or not franchises should end isn’t even a subject of debate anymore. Instead, we’re arguing over the “grittiness” levels, like hostages bickering about the wood grain on our flogging beds. And like that uninspired serial murderer who’s running out of furniture to reupholster with flesh, Hollywood is getting creative about not being creative.
Spoiler! It’s the same reason audiences are angry: greedy Hollywood pigs.
I bet you’re already bored with the Angry Birds movie. We made multiple films based on fucking board games, so a cell phone app movie is a cake walk through Mt. FuckEverything National Park and Preserve. You’re probably even bored with the upcoming Emoji movie you knew in the darkness of your heart was inevitable as death.
After LEGO and Grumpy Cat, it became clear that having a strong enough brand recognition was way more valuable than a coherent story conveying emotions beyond a few sideways letters or a Dwight Schrute meme. And since we already started mining internet shorts like Pixels, it was only a matter of time before some studio executive would be texting bribe instructions to their secret child and get that ping of inspiration. It’s the new gold rush for content, as even viral tweets get turned into franchise opportunities.
Of course Franco is involved.
“Rabble, rabble, something about SJWs, *fart noise*, rabble!”
Frogs, meet Hotplate 2.0, where in five years you won’t even blink at the 4Chan/moot biopic or gritty Reddit Alien cinematic universe. And you bet your ass it will be gritty, because…
Deadpool was awesome. Between it and Civil War‘s character-focused marketing, it seems like the entire genre is finally moving away from the now-mundane “supervillain blows up a CGI city” formula that showed up in almost every film before it. But Deadpool wasn’t just successful because it was different — it was also a comedy that didn’t insult its audience’s’ intelligence, was done on a refreshingly small budget, and focused on building likable characters. It was also rated R, which for Deadpool was pretty important. Point is, there are a lot of reasons that movie did so well, and no single factor that can be–
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for finally moving away from the sterilized action of PG-13 sequels and reboots like Robocop and Terminator, as well as seeing that anger-ball Wolverine finally slice people into crimson kibble. This is good news… done for the wrong goddamn reasons. Because instead of digging up or reviving lesser-known R-rated heroes like the Punisher and Lobo, what’s actually going to happen is a bunch of “adult” versions of iconic characters who have no business going that dark.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but think of the stupid ugly children. It’s bad enough that Man Of Steel was a bleak, endless parade that no 10-year-old would dream of sitting through — now they think we want to see a Justice League origin story that’s a three-hour-long wailing pit.
Now with even more pointless dream sequences!
In terms of the casual, non-comic fan, Batman V. Superman was too long and grotesque for children, and too juvenile and cartoony for adults. Like an exploding dildo, it’s literally made for no one. And this is the first time we’re ever gonna see the Justice League: in the form of some sorrowful monochromatic blood feud. It’s all thanks to DC’s only trick being copying The Dark Knight, down to turning Lex Luthor into the Joker. And now we’re going to see that same lack of originality applied to Deadpool‘s R-rated hit, and the subsequent flood of adult-themed versions of bunkum child’s play.
Hey, good news! The romantic comedy genre is dying a slow, gut-stabbed death to the sorrow of no one. The highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time come almost exclusively from the ’90s and early 2000s, and every actor and actress from that era, like Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Matthew McConaughey, and Sandra Bullock, have either stopped making money, completely moved on to other genres, or won Oscars and became astronauts in their biggest hit since A Time To Kill.
Now we know who’s playing the grim investigator in True Detective‘s third season.
Remember when early Adam Sandler films were both screwball and romantic? We even got a few full-blown love stories like The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates. Then 2010 hit and his films shifted from “funny guy gets the girl” to “funny guy goes on an adventure with friends” with films like Grown Ups, Pixels, and Ridiculous 6. Because as we’ve previously mentioned, comedy doesn’t sell overseas unless it’s infused with a popular genre, which is why writers and directors like Paul Feig and Adam McKay are making movies like Ghostbusters and Ant-Man.
But if you’re actually bummed to hear that all your favorite sap is going away, you might be happy to know that there’s one place that international money can’t touch …
“Now you can full-on cry in the privacy of your home, instead of holding it back in the theater!”
Rejoice, sap-holes! Romantic films and comedies aren’t dying after all, but rather moving to television where they belong. And not just in the form of adaptations, but as original series like The Mindy Project and You’re The Worst. In other words, like everything else in Hollywood, yet another genre being pounded by the international blockbuster is being made stronger on the small screen. And that’s not the only genre getting a shot in the arm …
In the ’90s, every horror movie wanted to be Scream. After that, The Blair Witch Project, and then The Ring. And now, in 2016, everyone wants to be It Follows — the film about a tactless demon fuck-punisher that had no business being as scary-good as it was.
Wandering old ladies tend not to make formidable horror villains.
What made It Follows special is that it introduced several long-missed dimensions to the horror genre. It’s 360-degree cinematography and synth soundtrack brought us all back to Sam Raimi and John Carpenter. For a lot of horror fans like myself, it was the best film of its genre in a decade or more … inexplicably released in the same year as the second-best.
Better known as I’ve Been Meaning to Watch That One: It’s On My Netflix Queue.
What made The Babadook and It Follows stand out was that their monsters symbolized deeper abstract fears like mourning and commitment. There were less fleeting jump scares and more staying effects of dread. In other words, these films felt like goddamn art — and they weren’t alone, as we soon saw other artistic indie horror films like The Witch and Goodnight Mommy pop up. And now like found footage before it, the indie look is becoming the hot new scary genre …
Those are screenshots from They Look Like People, which is either about insanity or possession, February, which is absolutely about demons, and The Unkindness Of Ravens, which I guess is about rude birds. If you haven’t already noticed, all of these films take place in creepy New-England-looking settings and have low-saturation and earth-tone cinematography — none of which actually guarantees a good film, but rather a gravitation toward the new “arthouse = scary” paradigm. It’s kind of like how The Ring warned of us the harrowing threat of tiny Asian children, and we just took that ball and hilariously ran with it.
Despite having zero blockbusters to their names beforehand, the Russo brothers have directed the ever-loving balls out of Captain America with Winter Soldier and Civil War. Meanwhile, Colin Trevorrow went from an indie comedy to making Jurassic World … to being at the helm of a Star Wars film. And if you found Jurassic World to be as lacking in tension and creativity as I did, then you know why that’s a terrifying prospect.
Nothing like FUCKING GUMP STARES to convey the primal fear of watching people get eaten alive by a dinosaur.
You may love Jurassic World (even though it’s the Phantom Menace of its time), but I promise it wasn’t for the directing. And that’s my point. Quality aside, these movies were already guaranteed to make money through brand and marketing. As was Guardians Of The Galaxy (through Marvel), Godzilla, and The Amazing Spider-Man … which are films that were also given to indie directors instead of seasoned names. Because today’s Hollywood has never been better for young white eager white ambitious white male indie directors who are white and male.
Hollywood’s movers and shakers, or jars of mayonnaise? You decide.
Let’s stop fucking around here. If you want to pretend that the directors of (500) Days Of Summer and Safety Not Guaranteed got these gigs because of their CGI blockbuster potential, then I’m not going to stop you. But back in the real world where female directors like Lexi Alexander are itching to make a second superhero film, what’s actually going on here is an audition process. Specifically, an audition not based on talent or experience so much as an ability to follow producers’ orders. I’m not saying that Hollywood is populated by blowjob-collecting fat cats who hate women, but you can’t deny that this process is one that comes with a lot of systemic prejudice. I’m also not saying that this is all bad, either. Because holy shit, Deadpool, guys.
Guys. GUYS. Fucking Deadpool.
While breaking box-office records for an R-rated film, Deadpool has the much-less-talked-about distinction of being the biggest opening ever for a first-time director. Until Deadpool, Tim Miller was a visual effects producer who had to court the studio harder than Jorah Mormont to get his break. First he made a hugely successful trailer for the DC Universe Online video game. After that, the studio hesitantly gave him a small budget for a Deadpool test reel — only to ultimately turn down the project. In the end, Miller spent years begging Fox to let him make the film, going so far as to offer making a PG-13 version and even sending an email once a month asking whom he’d have to blow to get the project made. The studio still said no.
So now you’re getting why “someone” leaked the test footage online (and the fan reaction to it instantly got the thing greenlit). Boy, it’s almost like these studios are completely clueless to their fans. If only there was a solution …
“Psh, what do fans know? They’ve only read every single comic book in existence.”
Because lord knows that there would never be a time where anyone would have to backtrack from that, right? Like if your next film was universally hated by critics?
We bet DC is wishing Damage Control wasn’t a Marvel property right about now.
It’s almost as if the people making these DC films have no fucking clue what they’re doing. Meanwhile, in a faraway land where movies aren’t terrible, we’re seeing other filmmakers use the Internet more and more to communicate with fans. That isn’t to say they should do everything we ask, but when Michael Bay & Friends were faced with insurmountable online backlash for trying to make the Ninja Turtles into space aliens, they actually went back in and changed it. Did it make a perfect film? Yeah, no. But thanks to fan feedback, the upcoming sequel is actually making efforts to steer the franchise in the right direction with a sane-looking Shredder and more focus on the turtles as main characters. Also, fucking Bebop and Rocksteady driving a goddamn tank.
If we’re not careful, we may actually see this movie on purpose.
It’s a tank, you guys. In what looks like fucking whitewater rapids. What the fuck are they doing in all that whitewater rapids? Who gives a fuck? I know I’ve gone on and on about the reality disconnect of CGI, but this is the fucking Ninja Turtles — a series for children that gets more disturbing the more photoreal it gets. Isn’t it nice to know that when audiences said that Shredder looked like crap, they actually did something about it? Isn’t it nice to know that when Neill Blomkamp told everyone about the Alien film he wanted to do, we made enough Twitter chatter that the studio seriously considered it?
I know it sounds cynical to say that these reboots and adaptations are all just pandering to fan bases and escapism, but they kind of are. So if we’re gonna make a Superman film every damn year, they might as well ask us what we want to see first. Because I guarantee the popular vote isn’t “a confounding jumble of rubble and torment in perpetual darkness.” We’re already gonna get enough of that if Trump wins.
For more things Hollywood needs to give up on, check out 5 Annoying Trends That Make Every Movie Look The Same and 4 Trends Hollywood Needs To Admit They Were Wrong About.