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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Inception’: it’s really, really pathetic…

…that Inception is the only movie worth looking forward to this summer.

I look out across the summer slate, and I see an endless array of sequels, retreads, adaptations from other media, grossout comedies, etc. Among the wide releases, that is. There are always potentially interesting foreign films and indies on offer, at least for someone lucky enough to live in New York or Los Angeles or London.

It makes me want to hibernate till October. Not that the awards season is looking much more promising, though…

I’d be looking forward to Despicable Me, too, except I’ve already seen it and I’m not allowed to tell you about it. I will say that if I were, hypothetically, going to be psyched for Despicable Me, I would not be disappointed when I did finally see it. But I didn’t say that — don’t tell anyone I said that.

I think I’m gonna spend a lot of time hugging my DVD player and my Roku box.



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movie buzz
  • I have to admit that with the exception of some of the sequels – Toy Story 3 especially – I’m not overwhelmed with the choices for films this year. This is the first time I’m more psyched for August releases – Scott Pilgrim and Expendables – than July or June…

  • Ryan H

    I’m crazy excited for Scott Pilgrim. So that, Inception and Toy Story are about it for my movie list this summer.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, I’m psyched Scott Pilgrim and Toy Story too, but that’s it. How’d those two slip your radar, though?

  • Nate

    Count me in in the TS3, Inception and Scott Pilgrim clubs.

    What’s weird is that September’s choices actually look very interesting this year with a George Clooney thriller, a spinoff of Grindhouse, and a Zack Snyder animated film among the pack.

  • Nate

    I’m also curious as to why Toy Story 3 is conspicuously absent from the list of movies MAJ is anticipating. I mean, yeah, it’s a sequel but it’s Pixar for christ’s sake!

  • JoshDM

    Scott Pilgrim and Toy Story 3 are the ones for me, too.

    I think Airbender will be better than expected, but I have low expectations.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m also curious as to why Toy Story 3 is conspicuously absent from the list of movies MAJ is anticipating. I mean, yeah, it’s a sequel but it’s Pixar for christ’s sake!

    The trailer doesn’t give me a lot of hope. It doesn’t look like it has anything new to say beyond what the previous films have said.

    As for *Scott Pilgrim*… Lessee: Yet another movie about a dorky boy who wins the heart of a hot girl. Yeah, I’m not psyched for that. Even if it is from Edgar Wright.

    *Inception* looks like a truly original idea. *Scott Pilgrim* and *The Expendables* are more of the same old stuff. They might be okay examples of the same old stuff, but is there anyone other than Chris Nolan with something new to say?

  • MaryAnn

    I’m crazy excited for Scott Pilgrim.

    Why?

  • RyanT

    Count me in on the Inception/Toy Story 3/Scott Pilgrim bandwagon. I’d be shocked if I see any other films this summer other than those three.

  • JoshDM

    Part of the Scott Pilgrim love is coming from knowing the source material.

    It’s why I am very excited for Darabont’s “The Walking Dead” on AMC.

  • Nate

    The trailer doesn’t give me a lot of hope. It doesn’t look like it has anything new to say beyond what the previous films have said.

    Pixar always undersells their films with their trailers. WALL-E’s made it look like a generic space adventure and Up’s made no mention of Ellie at all even though she’s the driving force of the plot.

    Plus it’s already off to an 8.8 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Toy Story 3 is the follow-up to the warning Prospector Pete gave Woody in part 2:

    How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy’s growing up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s your choice, Woody. You can go back, or you can stay with us (in a museum) and last forever.

    Toy Story 3 is also following in the footsteps of such classic literature as The Velveteen Rabbit, Brave Little Toaster, and the final chapter of House at Pooh Corner (“Christopher Robin was going away…”): a child is growing up and must put aside his childhood things, a moment of infinite melancholy…

    Plus: Ken gets to confront certain issues about being a girl’s toy… and maybe we’ll get to see him beat up that surfer douche Blaine!

  • Chris

    I mean this with no malice intended, you’re an idiot to doubt Pixar. They made me look like a fool last year, and now your walking into the same trap.

  • Jim Mann

    I mean this with no malice intended, you’re an idiot to doubt Pixar. They made me look like a fool last year, and now your walking into the same trap.

    Even Pixar can nod. Cars was a let down.

    That being said, I still have high expectations for Toy Story 3.

  • markyd

    Inception looks amazing. Like MaryAnn, though, I’m really not psyched for anything else. Even Toy Story 3. I just think it didn’t need to be made. We’ll see once the reviews start coming in. I’m sure I’ll take the fam to see it, regardless.
    I love Edgar Wrights stuff, but never heard of Scott Pilgrim until a few weeks ago.
    Don’t care about Airbender, although the other thread has pretty much convinced me to at least give the show a chance.
    This is easily one of the worst movie summers in a long time.

  • Chris

    Jim, Cars wasnt terrible, it just wasnt as deep as many of the Pixar movies. I think a family can have fun spending an afternoon with those characters.

    Other movies I think Mary Ann is casting aside are:

    Knight and Day
    The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
    Salt
    Eat, Pray, Love
    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    Knight and Day has the potential to be the suprise hit of the summer. Cruise + Action + Humor = Money.

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I don’t know, I thought the trailers for Knight & Day and Salt were both really boring and generic. I can’t remember a single set-piece or image, which is sad – the old cliche about summer movies used to be that all of the exciting bits were in the trailers, and now they can’t even find enough highlights to fill those out.

  • Nate

    Knight and Day has the potential to be the suprise hit of the summer. Cruise + Action + Humor = Money.

    I think most of us are weary of the couple-action-comedy trend that’s pervaded over the last few months; with Date Night the only one approaching decency. It does have some talent at the helm in James Mangold.

  • Ryan H

    @MaryAnn

    Why?

    Why am I excited about Scott Pilgrim?
    A couple reasons. First, the graphic novel it is based on is one of the definitive expressions of my generations culture. It’s where music and videogames and sense of irony and sarcasm shared by everyone who grew up in the 90’s/00’s gets blended together and celebrated. The internal logic speaks to us.

    I am also extremely interested by the visual style Wright is playing with. There are hints in the two trailers with how he is playing with visual and audio language stolen from video games and cartoons and comics. If he pulls it off I think it could become one of the iconic stylistic movies that gets referenced over and over down the line.

    Finally it’s a geek date movie. There are so few they deserve to be cherished. Besides, the in the source material it’s a boy-meets-girl story that’s not really about boy-meets-girl. Think more Eternal Sunshine than The Backup Plan.

    To dismiss this just because there are lots of dork-gets-girl stories does the high quality of creators involved a disservice. In fact, it’s entirely possible that in the end the boy might not get the girl. The final volume of the graphic novel won’t be released until late this month and they have said that the endings don’t match perfectly but it’s looking like there might be no happily-ever-after.

  • JoshDM

    I think the problem with Scott Pilgrim was casting George Michael Bluth as Scott Pilgrim.

    Not that I don’t think it will work out, but he’s typecast and there has to be some other actor out there who qualifies. I bet many see his face and instantly lump it into Superbad/Year One / Infinite Playlist categor…

    I just went to IMDB to check out Michael Cera. It says the Arrested Development movie has been announced on his profile and that he is currently working on a Gilligan’s Island movie. I am certain he will not be cast as The Millionaire.

  • Ryan H

    Eh, I agree that Michael Cera is a less than inspired choice for the title character. In some ways the role is so him that they would have done better to get an actor that would have to reach further outside their comfort zone.

    But the rest of the cast is perfect and I trust Wright as the director to have pushed for the performances he wanted.

    It’s much like Toy Story 3. Pixar has earned the benefit of the doubt. I’ll be sad if they finally make a flop but I’m not going to go looking for it.

  • MaryAnn

    I think you’re all misunderstanding what I’m saying here. I’ll be delighted if/when *Toy Story 3* turns out to be great. I’m not “dismissing” *Scott Pilgrim.* I will be very happy to be surprised by a movie such as *Eat Pray Love* or *Salt.* A movie can be a good example in an otherwise tired genre. I just posted my review of *The A-Team,* and you’ll see that I loved it.

    BUT: I’m hungry for new ideas. For new characters. For new stories. Even when I end up loving yet another generic action movie, or a sequel, or something based on an old TV show, or a remake, there’s still something lacking in those movies. I love *The A-Team,* but it’s not going to linger in my mind and haunt me. When I look out over the array of mainstream films on offer this summer, I don’t see anything except *Inception* that appears as if it will have anything new to say, or anything to surprise me or make me think or haunt me.

    All the other films you’ve all mentioned may indeed end up being familiar stories retold in an entertaining or original way. But they’ll still be familiar stories. (I’ll be happy to be wrong about that, too, if that turns out to be the case.) I’m longing for something fresher than that.

  • JoshDM

    TVTROPES

  • Nate

    @MaryAnn

    You said in your blog post “it’s really really pathetic that Inception is the only movie worth looking forward to this summer.” That sure sounds like a dismissal of every other movie, regardless of the context.

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t consider not being psyched for a movie a complete dismissal of it. Isn’t there room for any middle ground? Are the only options “totally psyched” or “totally dreading”?

    I don’t think so.

  • Chris

    That was what I got too Nate. It seemed more like she was dismissing everything that is not Inception.

    Mary Ann, I would love to see more movies like Inception just as I would love to see more shows like Lost. The truth though is that there are very few people who have had enough success that they will be given the shot to do something like this. The only other director who isnt already a legend of Hollywood is J.J. Abrhams.

    I guess this means your not looking forward to the third Batman movie…darn it.

  • My problem with Inception? It looks like it’s walking in the footsteps of Dark City and The Matrix.

  • Nate

    I don’t consider not being psyched for a movie a complete dismissal of it. Isn’t there room for any middle ground? Are the only options “totally psyched” or “totally dreading”?

    I think there’s a difference between being totally psyched for something and looking forward to something. Twilight fans are “totally psyched” for Eclipse while I’m sure people here are simply “looking forward to” Scott Pilgrim.

  • JoshDM

    Does anyone else keep reading the movie title and expect Optimus Prime to come help kick Incepticon butts?

  • JoshDM

    Hey MAJ, you can spend some of that “free time not being psyched for movies” (air-quotes, not quote-quotes) getting familiar with episodes of Airbender off of Netflix. :)

  • Well, they say the worst part about being a successful film critic is that the more movies you see, the easier it is to get burnt out on stuff. Especially when you keep seeing the same formulas being repeated over and over again by the type of people who–to steal a phrase from Clive Barker–think Bambi is an art film.

    That said, I don’t see a whole lot out there I’m psyched for, either, but then I don’t kid myself that I’m part of Hollywood’s ideal movie audience.

  • Knightgee

    My problem with Inception? It looks like it’s walking in the footsteps of Dark City and The Matrix.

    And with a lot of William Gibson thrown in for good measure. The plot synopsis reads like Johnny Mnemonic’s plot, but in reverse. That said, it still looks like it will be a fun movie, not to mention aesthetically interesting.

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