BOP Answers Its Mail

By Calvin Trager

May 20, 2004

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BOP loves its readers. And BOP's readers love BOP. But some of BOP's readers don't love certain things that BOP does. But others do. This is the enigmatic nature of feedback: It doesn't often let you know what you are doing well, but it very nearly always lets you know what you're doing wrong, or at least what others think you're doing wrong.

And while we at BOP are self-aware and confident enough to follow our own muse even in the *gasp* face of negative feedback, from time to time we will use this forum to respond to our readers, to further clarify, to enlighten, to entertain.

Here then is some selected feedback and response from May 3-8, 2004.

Mitch is barking up the wrong tree:
Dear Sir / Madam, Does Plan_B production company accept screenplays that are long and deals with subjects concerning the Second World War ? Thank You Mitch...

We're flattered you asked, Mitch, and will gladly accept an agent's fee of 10% when you sell the rights to Pearl Harbor II: Hartnett Versus Affleck. Unfortunately according to their Web site, Plan B Productions does not accept unsolicited materials of any kind, which is more than I can say for BOP's feedback doohickey. Looks like you're on to Plan C, buddy. Thanks for your feedback.

Alan is nothing if not precise:
OH PUH-LEEESE! You guys are supposed to be the movie gods and I love your website, but if someone is going to make comments about how great Shrek 2 is going to be they should actually see the first movie!!! Shrek is not (I repeat NOT) a troll. Ogres have layers (like an onion)!!!

As much as I want to make fun of you Alan, I have to admit you have a pretty fair point. The first movie made Shrek's ethnicity perfectly clear right from the beginning, drawing a distinction between giants, who will typically grind your bones to make bread, and ogres, who have been known on occasion to make a suit from your freshly peeled skin. Not to mention the onion rap you quote from above. So, even though it has been three years, we should have been more on top of that. Unless of course we did it on purpose to bait the more anal-retentive sector of our audience, in which case, SCORE! If it helps make things right between us, John Hamann's review of Shrek 2 is as positive as any review I've seen for any movie ever. Thanks for keeping us on the straight and narrow (and/or falling for our trap), and thanks for your feedback.

Chuck subscribes to the Multiverse Theory:
To Mumpower: Monsters, Inc is superior to Shrek? In what universe?

It is always hard to compare a good movie to a great one. The good movie always ends up (in many ways unfairly) undervalued by the comparison. This is a case in point. Shrek is a good movie, maybe even a very good movie.

But make no mistake, Chuck, this is not a vanilla-chocolate preference situation, even though a quick straw poll taken around the BOP water cooler revealed that as a group we prefer Monsters, Inc. by a 7:1 margin.

Objectively, Monsters, Inc. is a great movie, and is superior to Shrek. Here are a few reasons why:

Technology - Both are computer animated films, but clearly Pixar has algorithms that PDI hasn't conceived of yet. Monsters, Inc. literally pops off the screen with all the vibrancy and detail of real life. One cannot in good conscience say the same thing about Shrek. Now, Pixar had a lot more movies under its belt than PDI, so it shouldn't come as a big shock to anyone that they were miles ahead of PDI in this department back in 2001. I for one will be watching Shrek 2 very closely to see if PDI is advancing at the same rate as Pixar.

Originality - Shrek was more about skewering what had come before, which is nice, but there's a reason three Naked Gun movies were made yet only one Citizen Kane. Parody is easier. Just ask the Wayans. Okay, don't ask the Wayans, ask David Zucker. The point is, while we liked what Shrek did with the whole deconstructing Disney thing, creating something out of thin air is plain harder. Carrying off the harder task beats carrying off the easier one. Both films did more than carry off what they were trying to do; they hit the ball out of the park. But the roshambo pecking order still applies.

Heart - What the animators, writers and Mary Gibbs' voice talent were able to create with Boo, and more specifically the relationship between Boo and Sully, is unprecedented and as yet unrepeated in the computer animation genre. That is one large trump card held by Monsters, Inc. over not only Shrek but also fellow Pixar gems like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. I don't really have the words to describe it fully but if you didn't pick up on it, you need to watch again; it's something special and it can't be ignored in comparing Monsters, Inc. to other films.

Rewatchability (aka The Myers Influence) - If Mike Myers had stopped at one Wayne's World and one Austin Powers he would be a national treasure. Sadly, Mike's belief that he's the funniest cat around, coupled with his lack of restraint and his obsession with his Scottishness, taints even solid performances. Such is the case that Myers' sheer ubiquitousness in other unfunny material sometimes makes me avoid Shrek and reach for something else on the video shelf. Monsters, Inc. on the other hand, besides being certified 100% Mike Myers-free, provides something new and previously unnoticed on nearly every repeat viewing. For example, have you spotted Nemo yet? What about Boo's real name? How about the countless homages to Toy Story? Not simply trivial throw-ins, these touches are indicative of the care and craftsmanship that make Monsters, Inc. a treat to watch time and again.

All of these factors in combination result in Monsters, Inc. transcending the genre to become an instant timeless classic, while the very good Shrek has aged and will continue to age less well, unfortunately. Thanks for your feedback, and for giving me a forum to sing the praises of Monsters, Inc. - not merely a good movie, but a great one.

For more on Shrek, Kim Hollis' latest Drawn That Way treads similar ground.

Ric is extremely curious and a tad redundant:
I love your site! I also extremely curious about why COLLATERAL is never mentioned. It seems to me that at least some of you should be interested in it. But it didn't even make the omission list!!! Common on, who cares about Thunderbirds, or princess diaries? Thx and keep up the good work! a loyal reader Ric a loyal read

Due to a glitch (it tied with another film), Collateral was accidentally excluded from the initial publication of the BOP 25 of Summer 2004. This is also why, incidentally, it was missing from the omission list; we didn't know we had omitted it! Anyway, click that link again to check out the revision to see what we said about Collateral. Also, we didn't want to punish Harold and Kumar for our mistake, so I guess you can make that the BOP 26 of Summer.

For other info, check out our listing for Collateral here. As for why it is getting so little love from BOP, color us a little skeptical of the premise, and the pairing of Cruise and Foxx. Or it could be just too far out on the horizon and we're distracted by shinier things at the moment. On the plus side, BOP's readers think Collateral is the least likely to disappoint out of six contenders where we smell a rat. Check out the new BOP Poll feature on the front page for more info on this and other topics, and vote Casey. Thanks for your feedback.

Jasper gets right to the point:
When are the individual lists for the Calvin Awards going to be posted?

Now that the redesign is complete, and BOP's top nonstop hoppers have a roof over their heads again, the Calvin Awards' detailed results have moved back onto the front burner. We appreciate everyone's patience and will have them up just as soon as we can. When? Well, let's just say we don't think the MTV Movie Awards status as the last major awards presentation for 2003 is in any serious jeopardy. Thanks for your feedback.

Chris has hobbit fever:
Thank you for your site!! Can you please tell me what the final numbers are for Lord of the Rings triology to date -costs & earnings of films. (I know it will increase with dvd sales)Just curious about the ball park numbers. Or can you direct me to a site that would have this data? Thanks much, Chris

If ballpark will suffice, I can field this one. The trilogy was generally acknowledged to carry an up-front production cost in the neighborhood of $300 million. At the time this was a significant investment in an unknown commodity. As it turned out, it was a bargain. As BOP's box office database shows, the trilogy grossed over $1 billion in the US alone. Worldwide, from theater exhibitions only, the tally is closing in on $3 billion.

As far as franchises go, that's pretty good but not the champ. The Star Wars franchise currently stands at around $3.4 billion and will hit at least $4 billion before all is said and done, though it will take six movies to do it. If all the Harry Potter movies get made and the franchise stays popular, it stands to overtake Lucas and Company around installment five; the first two made just under a billion each and the story is just starting to get good. And don't think James Cameron isn't brainstorming about a Titanic sequel. Titanic is the all-time individual champ at the global box office, with $1.8 billion. By the way, allow me to give some love to IMDb for their chart on this subject. Thank you for the feedback.

Linda boasts of a wide circle of friends:
When and where can we get some info on the U. S. release date for Trauma starring Colin Firth and Mena Suvari? I know several hundred people who are looking for info on this movie.

Linda, even though BOP's Dan Krovich put Trauma on his 2004 indie preview, as he said back in January, there's no guarantee that it will receive US distribution. A brief glance at the film's Web site indicates they are no closer today than they were back then. While you wait for its release on DVD you might want to bookmark the Trauma Web site for up-to-the-minute status. Thanks for your feedback.



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