5 Ways to Prep: American Movies
By George Rose
July 4, 2018
For the first time in a long time, the weekend before the Fourth of July doesn’t have a monster blockbuster hopeful on the release schedule. Instead, we get Sicario 2 and some other lame fireworks that will struggle to spark at the box office. I image this shift in scheduling has to do with Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World 2 both earning towards the high end of their pre-release expectations. Rather than have one movie open right before America’s Birthday, we have a pair of hits delivering a much needed one-two punch a few weekends beforehand. Instead of releasing another Transformers or Despicable Me movie, theaters are graced with two classic franchises reigning supreme. Maybe a tiny break before the birthday is in order.
I never saw the first Sicario and I don’t intend to see the second. If there’s time for a movie, my money is on seeing Incredibles 2 again. Remember when it opened two weeks ago with the biggest opening weekend record of $182 million? That was great. Really, it helped restore a bit of lost faith in Hollywood. It’s so fun being shocked when expectations are exceeded. Even though Jurassic World 2 “only” opened to $148 million - which was much less than the $208 million World 1 started with - it was still more than the $130 million some skeptics were throwing about before the release. And do you remember when Jurassic World 2 opened to almost $150 million and Incredibles 2 also had a great weekend by dropping only 45%, which meant a $100 million second weekend? We’ve never had two films earn over $100 million at the same time before! This is amazing!!! Truly, just fantastic. Well, not truly. In fact, it’s not true at all.
But this is America! If there’s anything this country has taught us in the last year or two it’s that you don’t have to be remotely honest to be successful, publicised or President. That’s not to suggest that I have a problem with Lord Trump, mostly because I generally assume I’ll never love whoever is in control of the country. If anyone is to blame for history’s stellar track record of liars it’s America itself. Just look back in time; none of it’s true! Those aren’t Indians, they are NATIVE Americans. Americans didn’t pay or trade for this land, they took it with force. At one point, it was the most powerful country in the world and, therefore, the #1 country. Yay, go America! Except, shoot, I forgot… everybody hates us now and they are building their own walls to keep us out. Maybe it’s because we’re big fat liars. Independence Day? That’s didn’t even happen on July 4! The vote to approve the resolution of independence took place on July 2, 1776. Some say it wasn’t entirely signed until almost a month later. Soooo… Fourth of July?
But who cares?! AMERICA!!! As a birthday present, I’m going to rewrite history to give it a magical box office record that the fates previously denied. When we look back at Incredibles 2’s debut, we’re going to knock that $182 million down to $162 million. This still allows it to (barely) edge out Shrek the Third for biggest animated weekend with inflation. Now, let’s give it the same $90-ish million weekday total it earned thereafter and now it’s at $250 million going into weekend two. Here comes Jurassic World 2 with it’s $148 million; yay, it beat expectations! But wait, there’s Incredibles 2 with a $100 million second weekend, bringing its total to $350 million after ten days!!! The thing is, all audiences had to do was siphon $20 million of tickets from weekend one ($182 million) to weekend two ($80 million) and - BAM! - records galore: biggest animated debut, first $100+ million animated second weekend, first time two movies earned over $100 million and biggest June weekend ever. Can you hear the fireworks?!
America sure can! Because we don’t need a reason to celebrate, we’ll just make one up! Native Americans obviously had no quarrel with Americans because Thanksgiving says so, the Second of July is NOT the real Independence Day because there was a clerical error somewhere, and Incredibles 2 is the best thing to happen to the box office this summer. Most of what I just said are facts (-ish) but, as an American, I’m entitled to my own interpretation of history. Now that Hollywood has taken #TimesUp to great heights, it’s time to look back on the OBVIOUSLY blurry record of our country’s past and question everything those straight white guys typed up in their encyclopedias. In fact, let’s look back at a few of the films that were branded by this country’s name and see if there’s maybe a true story behind them. Something tells me we may not be able to make the American brand great again if we uncover the truth.
#1) AMERICAN PIE (1999)
WHAT THEY SAID IT’S ABOUT: Adolescent love and friendship is put to the test during prom season as sexual tension and uncontrollable hormones hilariously complicate the last year of high school. However, there’s nothing like a harmless pact between friends to keep hope alive.
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT: A group made up entirely of straight, white, barely legal teenage boys decide to trick unsuspecting young girls into sex. Since the women are lucky enough to be able to have an education or a right to vote, they have no choice but to allow this tomfoolery to occur so “date rape” is viewed as “funny flirting” and the film was a box office hit!
#2) CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)
WHAT THEY SAID IT’S ABOUT: Back before the world had grown accustomed to superhero’s, there was one brave American willing to sample a syrum that would make him strong enough to take down a global threat. Nothing like another trip down “America Saves the World” Lane!
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT: A straight, white, Nazi man takes steroids and messes his face up, so he gets angry and tries to destroy the world. Then a straight, white, American man takes some steroids so he can stop the bad guy. The two of them wrestle it out while the world listens on their radios because, you know, it’s the 1941 Summer Olympics! No women, blacks or gays allowed and, NO, those weren’t steroids… those were vitamins! Totally legal, right?
#3) AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)
WHAT THEY SAID IT’S ABOUT: Five hard working American citizens are trying to make it in the 1970’s but there’s no internet so it’s really hard for these people to communicate honestly and an unsuspecting politician gets wrapped up in these financial shenanigans. Is there miscommunication? Are people just forgetting to tell the truth because they’re busy hustling? Or are these five sexy adults just tripping their way through America’s wackiest decade?
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT: Five straight, white people (mostly men) get involved in a financial scheme that’s meant to help a cop come up in the world place, help some criminals get out of trouble, and help a politician with his goals for a thriving city. I’m not saying that America has a tendency to help the straight, white people get ahead but they sure know how to hustle. Also, it’s about that time Jennifer Lawrence got mad her male co-stars made more money so I guess straight white women aren’t as bad as straight white men.
#4) AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)
WHAT THEY SAID IT’S ABOUT: This Oscar winning film dramatically tells the interconnecting story of several citizens in suburbia: a cheating white housewife, a bored white dad that smokes pot, a couple of slutty white girls, an emo white teenage boy, that emo kids redneck military dad and enough other characters to fill Springfield in The Simpsons. Unfortunately, miscommunication and suspicion can lead even the best townsfolk to do terrible things.
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT: The bored dad is Kevin Spacey and his neighbor’s son is selling him pot, although the redneck dad thinks his emo son is gay and having sex with Kevin Spacey, so the crazy white trash kills Kevin Spacey and DRAMA! Except, oh crap, we gave Kevin Spacey an Oscar for portraying a man that’s accused of taking advantage of underage boys and lying about it. Should people win Oscars for acting as themselves?
#5) TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE (2004)
WHAT THEY SAID IT’S ABOUT: The funny men behind South Park wrote and directed this story about American heroes that band together to stop worldwide threats. What makes this movie unique is its use of marionette puppets and how they’re “hung up” on the crisis “in hand.” Hahahaha, get it? It’s actually a really great movie, though.
WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY ABOUT: A group of all straight, white Americans putting their noses where they don’t belong, Americans’ tendency to cause mass destruction in the pursuit of taking down the people they define as evil, and Americans’ tendency to hang out in groups made up entirely of straight, white people.
I love movies and I plan to support them forever, or until Netflix prevents theaters from affording their operations. I even love America because I have to, it’s my home. Even though I am second generation Greek (another country in need of internal reflection), I am definitely an American. I’m pretentious, rude, I like fart jokes, and I’m a white guy so, yeah, I’m excited to drink in celebration of America’s Independence Day. I am also, however, part of the LGBT community so I do not consider myself part of this “straight, white male” problem America has. Or maybe it’s not America that’ the problem. Maybe it’s Hollywood. My assumptions of history come from film and, right now, most movies with the word America or American in the title features a cast made up all of straight, white people. Is history really the problem? Maybe what we need is a Hollywood brave enough to show us a more honest, colorful “American” movie.