English, English

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching Rowan Atkinson’s Johnny English trilogy: Johnny English (2003), Johnny English Reborn (2011), and Johnny English Strikes Again (2018). I feel like I should be surprised at how long-lived a phenomenon Bond parodies have been, but then Bond is still with us and apparently going strong so . . .

On the road again and again

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of movies about people racing cars around. Not on a racetrack, but across country. For cash prizes or treasure. For a while in the late ’70s and early ’80s these were a thing, especially if they were directed by Hal Needham and starred Burt Reynolds. I guess the Fast and the Furious franchise today is the only direct inheritor, but it’s morphed into something else now. Leaving these movies alone in their nostalgic goofiness. Watching them again was a very fast trip down memory lane, but I’m pretty sure it will be my last with any of them.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Scavenger Hunt (1979)
Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
The Cannonball Run (1981)

Children at play

But how do you think kids feel about you, Chuck?

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the Child’s Play movies, which are headlined by the murderous doll Chucky. A better-than-average horror franchise that covered a lot of ground over thirty years. Alas, the 2019 reset was a total disaster.

Child’s Play (1988)
Child’s Play 2 (1990)
Child’s Play 3 (1991)
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Seed of Chucky (2004)
Curse of Chucky (2013)
Cult of Chucky (2017)
Child’s Play (2019)


Over at Alex on Film I just finished watching the trilogy of Robert Langdon films based on the novels of Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code (2006), Angels & Demons (2009), and Inferno (2016). Since I can’t tell you what made the books so popular I sure can’t help with the movies. The weird thing is that they don’t even seem like good popcorn entertainment to me. They’re all very dull and talky, and despite throwing in so many highbrow references they’re unbelievably stupid. Is this the sort of nonsense people want to believe in? Yikes.

Blockbusters then and now

Number one with a bullet.

Ranking the highest-grossing films of all time is a tricky business because a lot depends on what you include with the gross. Theatrical revenue only? Domestic and foreign? DVD sales? Television rights? Merchandising deals? Not to mention how you want to adjust the numbers for inflation.

By most rankings, however, Avengers: Endgame is near or at the top of the list. I just finished watching Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War over at Alex on Film, and in my notes I did a bit of musing about what the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe says about us.

But something else I found interesting when considering the different lists of box office hits was my own drift away from such fare. Gone With the Wind is a movie I’ve seen a number of times, and while I can’t say I really love it, it is a movie I find I can come back to. Same with Star Wars and Jaws. Titanic I can defend, but it’s not a movie I’d want to ever see again. Avatar I couldn’t sit through once. The rest of the comic book nonsense from the past decade that so dominates the “highest-grossing movies of all time” club bounces off me completely.

I’d just say this is because I’ve gotten old, but the thing is, these movies apparently appeal to older audiences as well. And while Star Wars and Jaws were certainly movies that had a big appeal among young people, I don’t find them as downright childish as the formula we get in Avatar or Endgame.

Childish and stupid. Let’s face it, these are dumb movies. They are effects extravaganzas, where you’re supposed to just turn your brain off and have a good time. There was always at least a little more going on in the blockbusters of thirty or forty years ago.

Two questions then. Will history judge us kindly, assuming movies as we know them have a future? And where do we go from here?