erik lundegaard

Summer '09

We push in line at the picture show
For cool air and a chance to see
A vision of ourselves portrayed as
Younger and braver and humble and free

—Joe Henry, “Our Song”

Summer's over. We've got autumn movie posters rotating to the left and autumn movies arriving in our theaters: the semi-serious, the longshot Oscar contenders, the Halloween horror pics. Summer movie season starts the first weekend of May and ends the first weekend of September, so most postmortems have been done already. Mine is in the above quote from Joe Henry—you don't have this song? Get it—and in the overused line of Yeats' from “The Second Coming”: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” The best lack all distribution while the worst show up in 4,000 theaters opening weekend.

No, it wasn't all bad news. Four of the top five grossers are either good-enough films (“Star Trek”: $257m; “Harry Potter”: $299m), good films (“Hangover”: $273m), or great films (“Up”: $291m)—but that last, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” is big enough and dumb enough that it gets its stink on everything else. $401 million. Michael Bay wants what's in your wallet! He knows there's not much in your mind.

Glad “Basterds” ($105m) has legs—and not just Diane Kruger's. Glad “Julia” is still cookin' it up ($86m). Too bad about the docs: “Food, Inc.” ($4m) and “The Cove” (less than $1m) deserved bigger audiences, but barely trickled into theaters; par for the course for docs. “Funny People” ($51m) deserved a bigger audience, too. “Hurt Locker” ($12m), sure, but I wasn't as ga-ga over it like some, and I get why people didn't go. But “Funny People” was funny and raunchy and it died, relatively speaking. Adam Sandler's “Big Daddy” made $163 million in 1999 ($231 million, adjusted), so where were the Sandler fans? Where were you idiots? At “Transformers,” probably. Or maybe you're all big daddies now.

How about you? What did you see this summer that you recommend? What did you see that left you shaking your head? What are you going to remember? What do you wish you could forget?

Here's the image I like to carry away...

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Posted at 09:41 AM on Fri. Sep 18, 2009 in category Movies - Box Office  


Dan wrote:

Erik, I picked you up after another blog I follow linked one of your political screeds, which I liked because I'm a young liberal. AS much as I enjoy your writing, and agree with it on the whole, a stray line in this post struck me in an uncomfortable way.

"Where were you idiots?"

I'm sorry; I enjoy the works of Wes Anderson and Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brother, but sometimes an easy, digestible movie can be just as satisfying, if not more. Am I an idiot for enjoying "Big Daddy," or "Mr. Deeds," or recent fare like "The Hangover," and "The Proposal?"

I think not.

Perhaps it was a throwaway thought, with some lesser meaning, but maybe you should decide whether you're willing to judge someone's intelligence based on their enjoyment of a juvenile beer-and-popcorn laugher.
Comment posted on Fri. Sep 18, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Erik wrote:

Said with love, Dan, said with love.

To be honest I thought I showed remarkable restraint since I left out the "effin'."
Comment posted on Sat. Sep 19, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Aaron Reid wrote:

Erik -

Back at the beginning of the summer, I asked you if Up would be a good choice for my4 almost 5 year old? I was worried about any Nemo-like emotional intensity related deaths. I took your advice and you need to know the little guy loved it. I think he might have even gotten it in ways that I as an adult didn't. Loved the little boy scout; even liked the old guy. The only part that scared him... was the swordfight on the blimp near the end between the big game hunter hero and the old man. After the movie, Paul (that's my son) told me he was very scared the old man would get hurt (because he had a bad back) and he didn't want him to.

But of course, he didn't. It was a great experience.

Comment posted on Mon. Sep 21, 2009 at 09:11 AM

Hopscotch wrote:

Up and the musical number in (500) Days of Summer will stick with me.
Comment posted on Tue. Sep 22, 2009 at 06:13 PM
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