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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: ‘RV’ and ‘United 93’ (insert your own joke)

Much to the shame of humans everywhere, RV, probably the dumbest movie ever made, drove to the top of the box office this weekend, earning $16.4 million. Grady Hendrix in Slate, in a review dripping with as much sarcasm as the movie drips with feces (“like something in a Cronenberg film,” says Hendrix), finds the inadvertant social commentary in Barry Sonnenfeld’s cinematic nightmare:

Faces, disfigured with boredom, gaze dully out over blasted landscapes. Septic hoses drip fecal matter onto the body of a middle-aged man. The sun blasts an anonymous, flat landscape interrupted only by rundown bars and empty campsites. Welcome to the world of RV (Columbia Pictures), the latest Robin Williams movie, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld…. [I]ts bleak dissection of middle-class angst and emotional death is guaranteed to shock audiences, some of whom might even cry.

Meanwhile, enough of us managed to work up the courage to check out United 93 to send it to the number two spot at on the weekend tally: it earned $11.6 million. In the Chicago Tribune, cultural critic Julia Keller pegs the importance of the film, and how it touches all of us, whether we see it or not:

Certain creative works become overnight touchstones, become part of the cultural air we all breathe. They are instant referendums on where we are, on how we are, and most important, perhaps, on who we are. Thus even if you didn’t see “United 93” last weekend, it has affected you. You’ve had to think about it. To decide how you feel about the film and how you feel, period — lo these five years later — about Sept. 11 and the concentric rings of meaning that continue to ripple from its still-vibrating core.

Thus it follows that the real measure of the force of “United 93” may not be box office receipts or tallies of Oscar nominations — much as the film’s makers would doubtless appreciate such compliments — but rather how long it retains this status as an event, not a movie. As a dampened finger in the cultural wind.

[box office results via Yahoo! Movies]



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