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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

question of the day: What is it with January and bad movies?

And so the traditional January onslaught of crap commences today, with the releases of Leap Year and Youth in Revolt. Next week’s The Spy Next Door ain’t gonna be pretty, either. Why does Hollywood hate us? If someone paid just slightly more attention to the people making movies, couldn’t we avoid creating really, really bad movies that need to be dumped somewhere in the first place? How can we discourage this terrible trend?

S.T. VanAirsdale in Esquire has an interesting suggestion — he thinks we moviegoers should take January off:

What if we took January off at the movies the way studios and distributors seem to do, boycotting cinemas until they started spreading the wealth over the calendar a little more? There is no reason why fall needs to be such a glutted concentration of “good” films — or why summer should have a monopoly on crowd-pleasing blockbusters — while winter pukes a bellyful of undercooked tripe all over the multiplex. Even if (God forbid) there is an actual audience for The Spy Next Door, we should at least have some sort of alternative that day that doesn’t look and feel (and most of all isn’t sold) like Denzel Washington’s post-apocalyptic folly. Is there a reason The Fantastic Mr. Fox or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans or even Avatar can’t open on January 15? And don’t say “Oscar qualification” either, because just as there’s no law prohibiting decent movies in January, there’s no excuse for critics and award committees to not take in the whole year of releases when sorting out their darlings each December. Who knows — A Serious Man might even have benefited more from being the first great film of 2010 as opposed to just another boutique dramedy sniffing out 2009 honors like a truffle pig.

He makes an excellent point about awards — we critics are perfectly capable of recalling movies from earlier in the year, and with the rise of screeners, rumor has it that many Academy members never bother to see films in theaters at all: they just wait for their screener booty at year’s end.

What is it with January and bad movies?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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