Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reality or Escapism: State of Play vs. 17 Again (with a Susan Boyle sidenote)

This past weekend Zac Efron's film 17 Again was crowned prince of the box office with a weekend gross of over 23 million dollars, while the other big film of the weekend, State of Play only grossed 14 million.

I think it would be easy to tie the success of current box office pictures to the age demographic, suggesting that teens and tweens have disposable income while the recession is hitting the pocket books of adults who are too afraid to check the balance of their retirement accounts.

Perhaps that's true, but I doubt it.

I think it has more to do with entertainment. Yes, imagine that, people might chose what movies they want to see based on the entertainment value.

State of Play, surely has entertainment value, but it's also realistic, serious, gritty with hardcore reporters and criminals investigators solving the crime of the murder of a politicians mistress.

Does this sound like Friday night fun after a week of bizarre financial news, government news, stressful work situations, economic fears, and so forth. Plus, you might feel guilty watching the movie thinking about how all the reporters in the film will probably be laid off when there paper goes stops running a print version.

Now, Zac Efron has no acting skills compared to Russell Crowe. I enjoyed Zac in Hairspray, but his "Troy Bolton" character in High School Musical 1, 2 & 3 are all a little more than I can handle.

Yet, I think Zac Efron is a bright and exciting face of our time because he's so ridiculous he makes us sure that what we're watching can't be real, because this happy-go-lucky kid has to be a joke.

In a recent post about heavy WWII films Grete mentioned after a netflix line-up of Burn After Reading, King of California, Donnie Darko, In Bruges, and The Visitor, her and her husband have lightened their upcoming films to include films like Bolt, Fantastic Four, Marley & Me, Seven Pounds.

I understand. My wife and I have found ourselves enjoying lighter films ourselves, choosing to watch films like Get Smart, or the television show Arrested Development.

Related/Unrelated Note: Susan Boyle

I think by now everyone on the planet has been subjected to the singing of Susan Boyle, who we've all watched the YouTube video singing "I Dreamed A Dream" on Britain's Got Talent.

Sure, people didn't have to pay money to watch Susan sing, but the demographic that's skipping out on State of Play are the one's watching the You Tube video, forwarding it to their friends, and following her story.

People want to see people's dreams come true. Hollywood, take note. Entertain people, fill them with hope, as opposed to trying to only create heavy realistic films.

There is a time for film noir, but there is also a time for song and dance. Right now, there is a longing for entertainment that creates escape. We have enough reality in our reality.


Dad said...

I think you are spot on. The question is will the studios realize it in time? Furthermore will TV executives? I'm really tired of seeing dead, mutilated, rotting bodies on TV. I don't watch any of those shows, but the commercials come on during the news. There is a fine line between being entertained by solving crime and being entertained by watching crime.

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to see this movie ever since I saw the trailer on TV (you can watch it at http://displacedbrett.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/state-of-play/). If this movie lives up to the trailer, it will do the mini-series justice.

Not a big fan of Affleck, but I think this might actually be a good role for him. Russell Crowe almost always delivers. Also, the trailer has a great song, "Unstoppable" by Minutes Til Midnight that does a great job of setting the mood. So yah, personally I'm way excited for this film.

RC said...

@ Bennett - for sure, couldn't agree more.

@ displacedbrett, it's certainly interesting -- i feel like the American movie would have done better if it came out quicker...I think this type of story would have been a more popular movie...say, somewhere between 2004 and 2006....but you sure sound excited about the film. You'll have to let me know what you think.

Brian Atwood said...

Your "Susan Boyle sidenote" was right on.

Unfortunately I am afraid that Hollywood suffers from a self-induced myopia that will never allow them to see what the rest of America truly enjoys most.

May we hope that at least some film makers will catch on.

Anonymous said...

Update: Saw the movie over the weekend…and although I thought Russell Crowe did a fine job (as expected) it was Jason Bateman that stole the show. He doesn’t have a huge role, but his character, Dominic Foy, is definitely the most intriguing aspect of this film. Though the script overall doesn’t have as much of the wit and humor that the mini-series had, Bateman’s leather-clad, Oxy-addicted, larger-than-life version of Foy strikes a nice balance of darkness and humor to counteract the sometimes overly serious tone of the film.

Overall, I'd give it a solid "B" - not disappointed, but not blown away.