Documentaries released in actual movie theaters (as opposed to public television or HBO or the streaming services) come in two kinds. First, there’s the hysterical, portentous world-is-coming-to-an-end-and-its-all-the-fault-of-the-Koch-brothers-aaaaah-help-call-a-cop kind. Then there’s the elegiac-rueful-showbiz-tribute documentary about a once-singular sensation.
In the woefully underrated 1982 comedy Unfaithfully Yours, Dudley Moore plays a concert pianist who resists a booking in China. His manager, played by Albert Brooks, explains why he’s wrong: “What, shrugging off a whole continent? That’s 800 million people. You get 200 million people to see you by mistake just because they’re looking for a restaurant.”
So there's this movie called Hobbs and Shaw, and it's sort of a Fast and Furious movie, only it isn't. I really wouldn't know, because I've only seen a couple of Fast and Furious movies and I remember absolutely nothing about them. And when I say absolutely nothing, I mean absolutely nothing.
If there is any location in the collective American imagination that evokes an Edenic paradise, it would be Los Angeles in the 1960s. To think of it is to dream of it: The sound of Beach Boys harmonies filling the air, the weather always 72 and sunny, fresh-picked fruit coming down the 101, and money raining down on Californians new and old.
Back in 1978, Superman's ad copy made a daring promise to the American moviegoer when it declared, "You will believe a man can fly." We did, and it was a smash. The ad copy for the new Disney remake of The Lion King might be "You will believe a lion can talk." You do, and the movie is going to make nearly $2 billion at the box office, trust me.
A friend described Bohemian Rhapsody, last year’s Oscar-winning biopic about Freddie Mercury of Queen, as “like [watching] someone reading the Wikipedia article on Queen out loud.” The description has stuck with me because it’s so succinct and so accurate and so damning. It’s not that Bohemian Rhapsody was bad—though it was definitely bad—so much as that it was utterly and confoundingly boring.
Now that 21st Century Fox has become the property of Disney, one imagines that the nearly 20-year-old X-Men franchise will be rebooted* and integrated into the stunningly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point in the next few years. It may be worth taking a moment, then, to pay tribute to the series of films that most closely approximated what it's like to read comic books.