Archive for movies


Posted in The Popular with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


I LOVE how movies can take you back to another time and place, I bygone era you might have lived through — or only ever posterheard about.

I just watched one such film and was transported all the way back in time — to the early 2000s. It was “Spider-Man,” a movie that has aged worse than guacamole at a summer picnic.

How can it be? The thing is only six years old — they’re still making sequels — yet it already feels like a relic from another time.

Where do I begin? How ’bout the wrestling scene, Peter Parker’s coming-out party as Spider-Man. It’s the first time we really get to see him in action, and he’s wrestling? With Randy “Macho Man” Savage?? Somewhere offscreen, did Superman spin the world back to the 1980s?

macyThen there’s the scene in Times Square, where folks are celebrating “World Unity Day” or something. Who’s entertaining the crowd? None other than recording artist Macy Gray! No, she’s not singing that one song you kinda remember by her from when she was popular for a few months. It’s some tuneless crap called “My Nutmeg Phantasy” (worst song title ever?). Don’t worry if you forgot that she was in the movie — even she doesn’t remember being in it.

It doesn’t help matters that during the drawn-out Times Square scene, cingular2we see a ginormous, conspicuously product-placed billboard for some old-timey company called Cingular (kids, ask your parents), or that the Green Goblin shows up and wreaks havoc on New Yorkers. (Crime in Times Square? How retro!)

And what’s with all this newspaper stuff throughout this flick. Like, Peter is a photographer for the school paper. Do schools even have school papers anymore? And he’s using a film camera! Dork. Later, he goes to work for the Daily Bugle, a newspaper that’s actually hiring people! Talk about bygone days …

paperAnd I swear, this has to be the last movie to use the spinning-front-page newspaper montage for exposition. Seriously? Newspapers aren’t even how moviegoers get their news anymore.

Another way this superhero flick shows its age? There’s only one villain! You can’t get away with that today: “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” have roughly 35 villains between them. Even last year’s “Spider-Man 3” upped the enemy count. A superhero movie with only one bad guy won’t fly with today’s ADHD audiences.

Right to the end, “Spider-Man” dates itself. The crappy closing credit songs sound even worse than they did in 2002, which is saying something. Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger “sings” “Hero” in that croaking, ’90s Pearl Jammy way, and Sum 41 (that’s the number of minutes they were popular) sound like warmed-over Beastie Boys. Great stuff if you want to clear a theater quickly but don’t want to yell “Fire.”

What about the oft-repeated mantra of the movie, its theme, if you will? “With great power comes great responsibility.” After two terms of George W. Bush, we now know that’s bullshit.

It’s funny — an early trailer for the film prominently (and unfortunately) featured the World Trade Center. Supposedly, the WTC scene was never intended for the final film. But it might as well have been included. “Spider-Man” feels so last century already.



Posted in The Popular with tags , , , on October 14, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


Overrated: J.J. Abrams Underrated: Jimmie “JJ” Walker

Overrated: the Dow Underrated: the now

Overrated: “Tropic Thunder” Underrated: the Lightning Seeds

Overrated: gravitas Underrated: gravy fries

Overrated: “House” Underrated: “Hoss”

Overrated: “unrated extended” Underrated: 90-minute runtime

Overrated: “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” Underrated: the devil you don’t know

Overrated: Robert Downey Jr. Underrated: Junior Brown


Posted in The Popular with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


HE WAS the biggest movie star of the summer, the one who had everybody talking. So how come I couldn’t understand a word Robert Downey Jr. said?

First, I saw “Tropic Thunder,” in which Downey plays an Australian actor portraying a black American character in a war movie. His performance won rave reviews, but I found at least half of what he said unintelligible. Maybe it was the theater’s sound system or the accents he used, but I really had trouble making out his lines throughout the film.

So I finally got to see “Iron Man” yesterday, and wouldn’t you know it, Downey kinda mumbles his way through this one too. I swear to God, about half of his lines are delivered as whispers or as tossed-off, smart-alecky asides. I was so distracted by his low-key yet rushed line readings that they were all I could focus on. It doesn’t help that director Jon Favreau decided to go a little Altmanesque and have his actors talk simultaneously in several scenes, to mirror natural dialogue. That would be fine in a lot of movies. But c’mon, Downey, you’re playing a superhero, for chrissakes … E-nun-ci-ate.

In other “entertainment” news:

Natalie Cole has basically made a career out of being her father’s daughter and singing the old man’s tunes — one of “her” biggest hits was “Unforgettable,” a “duet” with the dead guy, for crying out loud. Seventeen years later, she’s grave-robbin’ again — with a new album and another duet with the crooning cadaver. The name of the album? “Still Unforgettable.” Umm, Natalie, if you have to remind us you’re unforgettable…

So I was reading an article in Entertainment Weekly about Disney’s hottest new product, Demi Lovato, and how she’s poised to take over Miley’s teen-pop throne (no, I don’t know why I was reading it) and the story quoted “an equities analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research who follows the teen-entertainment market.” For real? Maybe we should just let our economy collapse and start over…


Posted in The Popular with tags , on August 14, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


THANKS for the feedback on the I-hate-the-Olympics movie marathon post below. I used a list of Summer Olympics games to come up with the films and, being American and all, I interpreted Football as Football, and not Soccer. I thought about it later and realized I screwed up, so I’ve adjusted the post.

And here are the other Summer Olympics sports I couldn’t come up with movies for. Anyone have any ideas?

  • Field events (like the long jump, pole vault and javelin)
  • Badminton
  • Gymnastics (“Gymkata,” anyone?)
  • Handball
  • Judo (Maybe “Goldfinger”? Didn’t Pussy Galore practice it, among other things?)
  • Pentathlon/Triathlon
  • Rowing (“Dead Poets Society”?)
  • Taekwondo (how ’bout Rex Kwon Do in “Napoleon Dynamite”?)
  • Weighlifting

A gold medal to anyone who can help fill in the gaps…