Sometimes it’s really hard to get excited about the week’s new movies, and this is one of those weeks. The umpteenth sequel to a franchise that was tired from day one and a 99-minute adaptation of a 60-second ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit are the big new movies. The end is nigh.
The week’s biggest movie is probably ‘Shrek Forever After’ (or ‘Shrek: The Final Chapter,’ depending on whether you believe the pre-release materials or the recent television commercials, which do a lot to hammer the point home that this is the last ‘Shrek’ outing – honest!). Well, of course, this isn’t the last ‘Shrek’ ever. In a few years, the lucratively-paid voice actors will want another easy job and the studio (DreamWorks) will have probably drained the last drop of blood from its newer ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ franchises. They’ll return to the ‘Shrek’ well, undoubtedly. And on a more practical note, there’s going to be a feature-length ‘Puss in Boots’ movie, centered around Antonio Banderas’ feisty feline. That’s out next Thanksgiving. So your ‘Shrek’ hunger won’t go on for too long.
This, the fourth entry in the dull-witted ‘Shrek’ franchise, rips off ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ with a central plot showing a world where Shrek never existed. Or something. It sounds painfully uninteresting, and I thought that the ‘Shrek’ franchise was more or less done about fifteen minutes into the first film. These movies trade in crude, unoriginal humor and instantly dated pop culture references instead of focusing on, you know, story. The fact that they have to rip off ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (a movie that has already been ripped off countless times before) just showcases the filmmakers’ crushing lack of imagination. Oh, but this will be the first ‘Shrek’ in 3-D. Woo. By the time I got motivated enough to contact the studio about seeing this, all the press screenings were over. Maybe I’ll catch up and do some kind of round-up next week…
Somewhat more promising is ‘MacGruber’, another movie that I didn’t see early but am looking forward to, regardless. Yes, it looks dumb. Maybe painfully so. It’s based on those micro-skits on ‘Saturday Night Live’ — loosely based on the ‘MacGuyver’ television series — where Will Forte has 20 seconds to stop a bomb from detonating. At the end of every skit, of course, the bomb does go off. That’s pretty much it. But the film looks silly and expertly crass (Val Kilmer’s character is named Dieter von Cunth), in a loose, anything goes kind of way that’s all too often tampered by measured Hollywood filmmaking. (I’m sorry folks, but ‘The Hangover’ wasn’t as “wild” as you thought it was.) Plus, I’m very much in love with current ‘SNL’ cast member Kristin Wiig and former ‘SNL’ cast member Maya Rudolph, who are both in the movie.
At least there are some good smaller movies opening next week, including the newest in George A. Romero’s zombie franchise! (I liked that one quite a bit!)