For your weekend viewing, we have two big movies to discuss. Two films that will be extremely popular, and which will divide families, general moviegoing groups, and blind dates literally right down the middle. See, one of them has been in the works for a long, long time. Almost a century, really. Because every kid likes to dress up, and what little boy doesn’t want to be a cowboy? (The implied sexism is almost unavoidable here and necessary to prove my point). Actually, I guess there were plenty of little girls who enjoyed the whole saloon-owner, can-can girl, “house frau” thing too, in the olden days of the wild west. But for our purposes, the ladies aren’t necessarily what we think of first when we conjure up images of gunslingin’, tumbleweed-watchin’, spur-wearin’, ten-gallon sportin’, whiskey-snortin’ fun.
When I was growing up, the other thing boys liked most besides food, pushing, swimming, and pulling the wings off insects?Aliens. They still do. Probably always will. And how many boys imagined, in 1940 and 1950 and 1960 – straight on through to the present day, that their two beloved worlds – the wild west and the galaxy – could merge? Or even better – collide?! You can imagine the sheer volume of wishing. It’s probably overwhelming. It would appear that Jon Favreau – who is now a very in-demand movie director thanks to Iron Man – probably thought it was an excellent idea, and so he decided to do something about it. (In truth, the idea for Cowboys & Aliens has been around for years, only it took lots of money to lure huge stars and well, some kind of cosmic alignment to bring huge studio forces together with those stars). But now we have it – Cowboys & Aliens — a movie that I am guessing will be silly, one-trick ponyish and overwhelmingly fun. Thanks to its two stars – Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. How could this not be a great, if forgettable, romp? Even if the two guys are super-serious – perhaps wooden – this will not matter because it’ll be the ultimate warm weather popcorn-accompanying confection, right? Will you see Cowboys& Aliens? I will, but maybe not this weekend.
For my money, the delightful film opening tonight will be Crazy, Stupid, Love. Which was also pretty well-thought out by the filmmakers. The premise is not outlandish, but the casting is where they’re ultra smart: you take an extremely well-established comedy star like Steve Carell. Whom everybody loves but who – we also know — can play a dunderhead or an arrogant jerk and still remain likeable (not sure Kevin James, Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell can do that today). So, they take a really funny guy and then they take a dreamboat who happens to be the go-to hunky-but-intelligent-guy-du-jour, Ryan Gosling. What is it that makes him so appealing? It’s not just the way he looks – it’s the talent and the lack of moody-broody bravado, methinks. Plus, no one knows if he is really funny – we think he’s funny but no one’s certain. So they build in the curiosity factor as well. Now, two thirds of the formula works. Then, coup de grace-like, they add Emma Stone who, with Easy A, quickly broke out of any mold Hollywood wanted to put her in and established herself as a funny, quirky girl who’s certainly attractive although that’s not the first thing you notice. The reason here, I’m pretty sure, is the husky lower-register voice that throws viewers, and suggests fierce intelligence. You put the three essential ingredients together (like I said the script almost matters not) and you have what initially appears to be a great movie. If the trailer is to be believed. Which is why I will be first in line this evening to see it. So what’ll it be? Cowboys, aliens or a romantic comedy? Whatever you do, have a great weekend and as always, let us know what you saw and thought.
1) Cowboys & Aliens
2) Crazy, Stupid, Love