Weekend Forecast for June 24-26, 2011
By Reagen Sulewski
June 24, 2011
Throughout its 16 year history of releasing features, Pixar has been renowned for its impeccable dedication to story over flash and commercialism, substance over style. That was bound to end sometime.
If there's a Pixar movie that's most likely to be picked by the company's adult fans as its weakest effort to date, it's Cars. Unless, of course, you're a five-year-old boy, in which case it's the best movie ever made and that ever will be (Hi, Lucas!). As such, it made approximately all of money in the world on merchandising. In the past five years, countries have continued to print money, so Pixar is confident that there is finally enough money for you to buy a bunch more things with Lightning McQueen imprinted on them.
Perhaps taking the criticisms of Cars' apparent aping of Doc Hollywood in the wrong way, Pixar has instead to broaden its parodic approach, making Cars 2 into a globe-trotting spy film. Oh yes, and it's now mostly about Mater. I can hear your collective sighs from here. While Owen Wilson and his Lightning McQueen character are in the film, it's now mostly up to Larry the Cable Guy's hayseed tow-truck to carry the story, which, you know, I could see working as a featurette or a direct-to-something sequel, but over the course of a full-length movie would likely make me want to pop my eardrums. This artistic direction tells you a lot about where Pixar is going with this one – abandoning their adult/kid balance and going straight kid. Look, if we promise to buy a bunch of Frozone merchandise, will you make Incredibles 2 already?
While the box office is pretty much irrelevant here (seriously, Pixar is going to make, and I'm not exaggerating here, billions off merchandising), it's worth discussing at least to some degree. They've added a few familiar voices to the cast to keep adults interested, and replace the ones who died or it didn't make sense to bring along (oh, but Mater made sense? Mater?! AGGH), like Michael Caine, John Turturro and Eddie Izzard, though I suspect the better attraction will be the exotic settings and flashy visuals.
Reviews are worse than any other Pixar film, by a wide margin – it's only their second film, other than, well, Cars, to rate below 96% at Rotten Tomatoes, a fact that undersells its reception in dramatic fashion, as its score will probably end up in the 20s. That's Shrek Forever After territory, folks. For this sin, Pixar will be punished by Cars 2 opening up to just … $68 million and earning the GDP of a small European country in ancillaries. Way to teach them a lesson, people.
The alternative new movie this weekend is Bad Teacher, a black-ish comedy from the director of Zero Effect (that's good) and the writers of Year One (that's bad) and several episodes of The Office (that's... good?) and starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake. The title serves pretty well as plot description here, with Diaz playing a truly terrible junior high teacher forced into the situation of actually having to care in order to win over a new sugar-daddy – a fellow teacher who just happens to be rich.