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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

weekend box office: the scary success of ‘Scary Movie 4’

Damn it, I hate it when I’m right. I said Scary Movie 4 was moronic, and I said Scary Movie 4 would be huge because it’s moronic and full of preverbal toilet humor, and I was right: the movie made $41 million in its first three days to become the top-grossing movie ever over an Easter holiday weekend.

What’s the best way for grownups to deal with this kind of potty-mouthed movie? Some advice, adapted from Parenting.com:

Your 4-year-old 4-quel marches around exclaiming, “I’m a stinky, poopy diaper head.” “Oh, it’s okay. I’ve taken balls to the face before.” She cracks herself up. You, however, are less amused.

Relax — she’s just going through a normal phase. Preschoolers Hack screenwriters, still trying to use the toilet Final Draft independently, are fascinated with bodily functions, and they delight in the sound of language farts.

Potty talk usually disappears around age 6 around the time Oscar lust kicks in, but until then:

Be blasé. Ignore it as much as possible. Try not to gasp, say “Oh, no, we never say that,” “Let’s go see that French film instead — I hear it’s quite powerful,” or punish. “Shocking you makes her feel powerful — so the more you react, the more you may reinforce the behavior,” says Debbie Glasser, Ph.D., director of family support services at Nova Southeastern University’s Family Center, in Fort Lauderdale.

Set a time limit. If, despite your nonchalance, your child the movie keeps up the bathroom humor, say, “You can talk about this for two minutes, then we’re going to move on,” says Barbara Polland, Ph.D., a child psychotherapist and author of No Directions on the Package. Once the time is up, introduce a new activity leave the theater and sneak into V for Vendetta again.

Meanwhile, the boutique-cinema satire Thank You for Smoking expanded to about 1000 screens, and inhaled a very respectable $4.5 million over the Easter weekend. (As a contrast, Lucky Number Slevin made about the same at the box office this past weekend, but it was on almost twice the number of screens as Smoking.) In a piece for Landmark Theaters, Smoking director Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son) discusses meeting the real-life tobacco lobbyist and analogue for the film’s Nick Naylor (played by Aaron Eckhart):

He looked about 5″ 10” in a black Armani suit and a tan that made him resemble above all things a talent agent. However, unlike an agent, his smile felt sincere. Most notably, his posture boasted an upright lightness that made him seem––of all things—guilt free.

He was the public spokesman for an industry that until recently was perfectly happy to remain a faceless operation, hiding behind characters like Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. But with cigarette companies folding into much larger food conglomerates and settlements being announced by the day, it was time for Big Tobacco to take the public stage. The grinning man before us worked for Philip Morris, which had recently renamed itself Altria (no kidding). Apparently Benevolencia and Humanataria were considered too vulgar.

And there’s more — check it out.

[box office results via Yahoo! Movies]

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