To See or Not to See

August 05, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

August is typically not a good month for movies. So, after looking at the release roster for the next four weekends (Aug 11, Aug 18, Aug 25, and Sep 1), the temptation is to hold my nose and state, "Time to wait for Toronto." Of course, there are other things to do during August. The lawn needs mowing. The pool needs cleaning. The weeds need picking. It won't hurt too much to stay away from the theaters.

A lot of what's coming out during the next month isn't being screened for critics. One might have thought I'd learned my lesson by now to give those movies a wide berth, but there are times when I can't stay away. So, while I will avoid most of those films, the "intrigue" factor will pull me into two of them. There are also a few titles I'm skipping because the lone press screenings are at undesirable locations. (I will travel 60 miles to sit in a clean, comfortable theater. I will not travel 60 miles to sit in a rat-hole.)

For fun and instructional purposes, I have put together a tentative list of the August major releases and how I plan to approach them. This doesn't include smaller/limited releases and I reserve the right to change my mind if the buzz warrants it.

Films to see: The list starts with Oliver Stone's World Trade Center. Actually, I have already seen it and can confirm that it's worth the evening out (provided you can endure a motion picture about 9/11). The English-language remake of Pulse is not being screened for critics, but I'll be seeing it anyway. Expect a Friday review. The Illusionist is another offering I have already seen, and it may be one of the month's best when it comes to pure entertainment. As has been widely reported, there will be no screenings of Snakes on a Plane, but that won't stop me. It is unlikely, however, that I'll line up for a midnight screening. I'll probably wait to see it at 11:30 that Friday morning. I have already seen Trust the Man. It's not a great film (kind of an R-rated sit-com), but it is above average for August. The Fried Worms film is screening at the most inconvenient time/place imaginable, but I'm intrigued enough to pay to see it on a Friday. Invincible is the latest true sports story. I have already seen it, and it's unlikely to be a big hit. Aren't people tired of these? Finally, there are a trio of Labor Day weekend releases I'm planning to watch: Crank (which looks like dumb fun), Idiocracy (which may not be screened - if it's not, I may skip it), and The Wicker Man. The last movie on that list is not being screened for critics, but I have enough of a soft spot for the original that I'm intrigued to see what Neil LaBute can do with the remake. I only wish the studio had more confidence in it.

Films to skip: Now to the darker side of things. I can't summon enough enthusiasm for Step Up to make the long trip and see it in a substandard theater. Zoom is not being screened for critics. I saw it when it was called Sky High and don't need to watch it again. Accepted looks awful, but not as bad as Material Girls. One Duff is too many; the concept of watching two of them is cringe-worthy. Beerfest would have been released earlier in the summer if it had any potential. (I'm not a Broken Lizard fan, and this guy foisted The Dukes of Hazard on us.) Idlewild is either not screening or not screening at a convenient location. Crossover is also missing from the screening list. And even if Lassie is screening, I'd rather visit the dentist and the proctologist on the same day before entering an auditorium playing that movie.

Sounds like a fun month, doesn't it?