Friday, June 13, 2008

"Ms. Tracey, please prepare one standard 'rich and famous' contract for the frog and his friends."

Tornadoes are tearing up the middle of the country, Iowa is under water, the Northeast just had record temperatures, China is still missing some pandas and a few thousand people, gas is over $4 a gallon, wars rage in multiple countries - a few of which we started and are fighting in, Gaza is an 'effing mess as usual, the hills near Santa Cruz are blazing, our future President is a total dweeb (clearly 'cause of the acid wash jeans, not the helmet), some jerk-off marine threw a puppy of a cliff in Hawaii (awhile ago - but I just heard about it), I along with many other healthy tomato lovers got crazy diarrhea last week before the recall was issued, but it could have been worse and it turns out new shower curtains are toxic. Hooray, it's a great time to be alive!

With all the terrible events, disasters, crime, inhumanity and general chaos happening in the world, you know what the big story on campus is? Tranformers II is filming. That's right Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox and even that yellow car are all basically one block away from where I type right this very moment. It doesn't matter how shitty the world is or how hopeless it all seems - humans will continue to make movies. And most of these movies will suck, which makes the whole effort all the more mind-boggling. But, these movies continue to be made despite the fact that our attention, money and actions should probably be focused elsewhere. Often, serious "films" are made to bring awareness to equally serious and often extremely depressing issues and these movies get press, awards and sometimes they are even gallantly placed upon Netflix queues, however rarely do they even reach the "Shipping Soon" status. "Films" are often not fun, "films" are work, that's why it's so satisfying when a foreign flick is whimsical and enjoyable - all that effort of reading for two hours pays off! In a crappy world, we apparently need our imaginary ones to be filled with plot holes, explosions and barely legal hot chicks in tiny shorts.

Michael Bay doing what Michael Bay does best, looking awesomely cool. (photo by: Kendal Whitehouse)

I, like most of you fair readers, saw the first Transformer movie and brought little to no expectations along with my contraband drugstore diet coke and Junior Mints. What continues to confuse me about the movie is how many people I admire and respect that told me how "fun" it was and that it was "really done well". I've often wondered how much mediocrity it takes to reach the level of saturation where college educated boomers, 20 something's with good incomes and even hipsters are lulled into actually liking a movie like Transformers I. Apparently, Mr. Bay knows. You might think I don't like action movies (after my Indy 4 review, you might think I don't like movie movies), but it's just not the case. You can still have a great script, explosions and characters you can get behind and care about. Sure, I recall having trouble even getting attached to Number 5, leaving no chance for any of the Autobots. Yeah, I was nine at the time, but I was really cynical back then. I hear Favreau gets this balance of action, brains and characters right with Iron Man, but I can't get past the fact that Downey Jr. put out a soft rock album a few years back fresh out of rehab enough to actually watch him in a movie. However, I will make an exception for Tropic Thunder . Seriously, have you ever heard that album? I saw him perform on Oprah - I watched it, now I can never "unwatch" it.

And you know what the real kicker is? They're filming at Penn, but in the movie the college that Shia Labeouf's character attends will be called "Princeton". Penn wouldn't let them use their name and Princeton wouldn't let them film on their campus. Take a moment to bask in the magic that is Hollywood problem solving.

I guess Princeton doesn't have a Robert Indiana.

NOTE: I wrote this last week, just didn't get a chance to post it until 6/17. Hollywood has left campus and the air has been completely stripped of all traces of last week's electricity. Even the sbrubbery that they planted around the castle frat and LOVE (statue) has been removed or sodded over. So very sad. Now it's just another hot summer in Smelladelphia.