I don't know about you, but the entertainment reports on the news always depress me. Hearing what modern trash is raking in millions at the box office always reminds me of the thousands of unreleased classic gems that deserve a release on DVD and a new day in the sun. But I digress...
I'm not talking about the classics that are being sadly neglected by the movie industry. I'm talking about "box office gold, baby!"
Okay, I should give credit where credit is due. Courtney Hazlett of NBC uttered this phrase on Morning Joe this morning when referring to... wait for it ... movies with talking animals.
Apparently "G-Force," an animated film about talking guinea pigs, overtook the newest Harry Potter film at the box office this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly. A film about talking guinea pigs. (What, does that actually surprise you these days?)
Long gone are the days when a heroic dog or ornery cat could hold an audience and garner huge box office receipts. Oh no, these days they better talk! And, while I haven't seen the film (obviously!!), I think it's safe to assume that these guinea pigs aren't like the classic Alvin and the Chipmunks or the animated animals in The Jungle Book; cute, kind animals with cute, kind voices.... Oh no, these guinea pigs are probably edgy guinea pigs who spout out hip lingo to make themselves that much more appealing to modern audiences.
And of course, this means box office gold, baby.
"Box Office Gold, Baby"
I just keep thinking about this phrase. I'm still in a state of shock, actually. I know that blockbusters these days always seem to appeal to adults' baser instincts. Crude humor, simple plots and mediocre (if not amateur) screenwriting have become the surefire recipe for a summer hit. But Courtney Hazlett's frank admission that talking animals basically guarantee a number one spot at the box office is such a sad reflection on our culture. Except for a handful of films made each year by a handful of talented filmmakers, the movie industry seems to have completely resigned itself to making childish films with complete disregard for anyone with grown-up tastes.
The films that we enjoy, both pre-code and post code, were geared to an audience of mature, intelligent adults. The filmmakers trusted us to see deeper meanings in simple gestures, understand fast paced overlapping dialogue, read between the lines, and, perhaps most importantly, they trusted that we would pay to see a film, in droves mind you, even if that film did not feature a talking guinea pig.