Five For Friday: Big dumb summer blockbusters

(…and the Reconditioners who love them.)


Nathan: Hancock.

Great movie? No. But it was good fun, and it had a nice twist on the superhero idea. In this summer’s deluge of superhero movies,  Hancock seems like a nice cold glass of refreshing cinematic lemonade. (#4 on 2008 domestic box office).

Travis: The Rock/Con Air.

Both of these movies are splashy Bruckheimer action spectacles, and both star Nicolas Cage in slightly varying roles, as a scientist in The Rock and a soon-to-be-ex-con in Con Air. Both were, in my memory, directed by Michael Bay (though my memory was wrong, as Con Air was directed by some dude named Simon West). Both feature excellent actors slumming and hamming up the villain roles. These are unbelievable, stupid, and over-the-top action movies, but sometimes that’s just what you need. The dash of Sean Connery lifts The Rock slightly in my estimation, but either is a decent way to pass some time.

Tyler: Friends With Benefits.

Who knew?  FR will have more on this one later, but Friends With Benefits is a much, much funnier movie than it has any right to be.  The plot and characters have no basis in anything resembling human reality, but it’s an R-rated movie, and it is raw.  At its best, it finds a startling honesty about sex (and what it takes to have the good kind), made all the more lively because its two beautiful people up there talking dirty.  It ain’t a great movie by any stretch, and it might not even be a good one.  But it’s funny.

Nathan: How to Train Your Dragon.

Once again – great movie? No. But it was sure better than I expected it to be. The story idea is obviously nothing new, but it was pretty fun.

Travis: The Crow.

My love for this one is fairly embarrassing at this point. It’s a goth revenge fantasy set to mostly-bad alternative rock, is too visually showy for its own good, and wastes Ernie Hudson and Michael Wincott in the roles of the cop who helps out our back-from-the-dead hero and the evil crime kingpin of Gotham Detroit respectively. All that being said, I’ll always be a sucker for this flick from my always wearing black years.

Tyler: Rush Hour 2.

I’ve never seen Rush Hour, and I’ve sure never seen Rush Hour 3, but I saw Rush Hour 2 in the theater.  It is not a good movie.

Chris Tucker is funny, though–or was, anyway–and, whether we hate him or not, Brett Ratner is a true pro.  Plus, Jackie Chan!  The stunts!  Not since Rumble In The Bronx did the screen see such action!

Keep your eyes peeled for Jeremy Piven in a mincing, humiliating pre-Ari cameo as–wait for it…–a gay fashion salesman!  Oh, he decks the boys up but good in some mean pastel.


Nathan: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

It’s dumb as dirt and funny all over. I admit that I have my bias here because I worked as an extra for a few days on the production, but outside of Anchorman and Elf this is my favorite Will Ferrell movie.

Travis: Cliffhanger.

It’s Die Hard in the mountains as Sylvester Stallone and character actor fave Michael Rooker do battle with a gang of crooks led by John Lithgow, taking even his own hamminess to the limits. The opening sequence, an attempted rescue on a zip line between two peaks, is genuinely great moviemaking. The rest, not so much, but it is violent, filled with great stunts, and never dull. Bonus: it’s directed by Renny Harlin, he of 12 Rounds fame!

Tyler: Starsky & Hutch.

It sure doesn’t look enticing in retrospect, full as it is with–sigh–“Frat Pack” regulars and directed as it was by Todd Phillips.  But Starsky & Hutch is funny as fuck, and has aged far better than Old School.  It takes a lot for me to like a movie with Ben Stiller above the title.  I like Starsky & Hutch, and I like him in it.  “I like your style.”  “I like your moves.”


Nathan: Tropic Thunder.

It’s a bit of a hit or miss affair, but there are long sections of Tropic Thunder that were dead-on hilarious. Above all, it’s a smart comedy that landed in our laps in the middle of the summer, which is always something to be thankful for. Also, Robert Downey Jr. in what might be his most amazing role.

Travis: Aliens.

Ridley Scott’s Alien is widely regarded as one of the best sci-fi films, and claustrophobic thrillers, rightfully so. All the nuance and terror that went into Alien is thrown out the window in James Cameron’s sequel, his first big-budget spectacle after the success of The Terminator. It may not be half the movie the original is, but it’s still a really fun ride.

Tyler: The Rock.

“Your best?  Losers whine about their ‘best.’  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”

“Carla was the prom queen.”


Nathan: The Incredibles.

Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit here. The Incredibles isn’t garbage by any standard. It happens to be, in my humble opinion, Pixar’s best effort since their inception. This kicks every current superhero movie – The Dark Knight included – to the curb.

Travis: Point Break. 

The premise is so dumb it’s brilliant: Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Johnny Utah goes undercover as a surfer to try and find a gang of bank robbers. To Point Break’s credit, it treats the premise as if it’s the most serious idea in the world, and in the process creates something that’s both a potent action movie and a wealth of intentional (and unintentional) humor. Patrick Swayze is great as Bodhi, the surf guru who takes Reeves in, and Gary Busey is entertaining as always as Johnny Utah’s crusty partner. As the poster said, it’s “100% Pure Adrenaline.”

Tyler: Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

You don’t think “dumb” when you think of T2, you think “fuck yeah, fucking awesome.”  But, Lord, what a stupid movie.  James Cameron wrote the dialogue, remember, and thus one of the coolest action movies ever made nonetheless stops every ten minutes or so to pound in some awfulness like “No Fate But What We Make” (OMGOD SHE CARVED IT INTO THE PICNIC TABLE why aren’t we spending more time with this Trejo-style motherfucker and his vast gleaming arsenal?) and pretty much any line Edward Furlong attempts to deliver.  Errg, I can hear him screaming “NO!!” in my head right now and it’s painful.

Terminator 2 kicks ass and always will, but woof.  Dumb.


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6 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Big dumb summer blockbusters

  1. In my defense, I try to stay away from big dumb summer blockbusters generally. I haven’t even seen some of the movies you two listed.

    I did almost put “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, which was a pretty cool movie despite what just about everyone said.

  2. “Dumb as dirt and funny all over” is a fantastic sentence and lead. That said, I think Talladega Nights is very, very smart. And funny.

  3. Hey, don’t sell Aliens short. Cameron takes a claustrophobic thriller and somehow transforms it into a fairly effective war film. Not the easiest thing to do. Plus, both Paxton and Reiser are priceless.

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