movies this week: formula in bulk

I ordered some Mucinex from Amazon last weekend. Mucinex is an expectorant, or as my doctor calls it, “the mucus thinner,” which is the kind of pills you get to take all the time if you have crazy-bad sinuses. It was weird ordering something so boring from Amazon, and I did consider buying the fourth season of The Simpsons in order to get free shipping, but the practical, dull part of me pointed out that if I ordered two bottles of the stuff I could get free shipping anyway.
Yesterday I found the box from Amazon hidden near the front door when I got home. I scooped it up with the rest of the mail and wondered how two small pill bottles could be so heavy. Maybe they packed them in lots of stuff so nothing bad would happen? Still, it seemed suspiciously weird.
I opened up the box and found … three tins, about the size of medium paint cans, of Isomil Advance formula. Powdered baby formula. (No, you don’t get babies if you add water, smartass. It’s for babies to drink in their little bottles.) Formula everywhere. I have to take the box back to the post office today and hope that next time I get something resembling my actual order.
In Austin theaters this week (you knew I’d get to movies eventually, didn’t you? What a surprise), it’s formula everywhere, too. Instead of Isomil Advance, we have Advanced Sitcom Formula in cans of film.
When I write these weekly movie previews, I write the summaries for the movies before I write the lead-in. After writing three or four summaries where the storyline reverted to that old film-school cliche, “Hilarity ensues,” or better yet, “Wacky hijinks ensue,” I realized that a pattern was emerging. A pattern of the standard formulaic (unfunny) comedy.
It’s like wanting The Simpsons, expecting something less interesting that’ll at least make you feel better, and ending up with an enormous amount of useless formula.
Add water—or better yet, strong drink—and enjoy.

New movies in Austin this week:
A Day without a Mexican—As a publicity stunt, the film’s promoters bought billboards for this around town, reading only “On Sept. 17 there will be no Mexicans in Austin.” I’m not sure that’s the kind of hype that will drive people to theaters. This movie is a satire about what would happen if everyone Latino left California. You know what would happen, right? “Hilarity ensues.”
Funky Monkey—I automatically distrust a movie that has no screenwriting credits in its IMDb listing. I already feel sorry for Fred Ward (whom I loved in various 1990s movies), Jeffrey Tambor, and Matthew Modine for having to act in this. This movie probably only escaped going straight to video because there weren’t any other kids’ movies opening this week and someone figured, hey, if crap like Garfield and Cat in the Hat can make big bucks, why not another film about a kid befriending a feisty chimp and, um, wacky hijinks ensuing. Yeah.
I hate it that kids get all these total crap movies because studios (correctly) assume that parents will drag their young ones to anything “family friendly” no matter how crummy it is. Well, anything with little boys starring in it. Boys don’t want to see movies with girls starring, so those movies don’t do well.
And you ask why I’m so cynical. You have to ask?
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence—I read some reviews of this Japanese animated movie from people who saw it at the recent Toronto Film Festival. The consensus seemed to be that the movie looked great, the story was good, but the characters and dialogue were very weak. Still, fans of the first movie seem to like this sequel. I haven’t seen the first one myself. At least there are no wacky hijinks.
The Hunting of the President—A documentary based on a book about the attempts to thwart Bill Clinton throughout his presidency. (Are they wacky and side-splitting attempts? Probably not.) Co-directed and co-written by Harry Thomason, as in Harry and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, well-known TV producers who were major supporters and friends of the Clintons. Obviously biased, but that doesn’t mean it might not be interesting.
Mean Creek—Aaaaah! Another Culkin! Will it never end? (Actually I have liked a couple of Kieran Culkan’s movies, so I shouldn’t be so nasty about it. Still.) This teen drama looks intriguing, but I don’t know if I could overcome the Culkin Factor.
Mr. 3000—I like Bernie Mac. I think he’s a great character actor, but like Bill Murray in his younger days, best taken in small doses. I don’t think he can carry a movie. Even without Bernie Mac, I have no interest in a movie about an obnoxious ex-baseball player who has to go back to the game One More Time aaaaaaand—in chorus everyone—hilarity ensues! Very good, class.
National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers—Apparently this movie has been hanging around for a couple of years, and had its title changed so no one would realize it was that dog of a film that was guaranteed to flop in theaters. Two guys decide the easiest way to get rich is to seduce a couple of older rich ladies, but the rich ladies aren’t that stupid, and … Right. Exactly.
I don’t want to see a movie with the phrase “Gold diggers” in it post-1938, even if the gold diggers are a couple of guys instead of the stereotypical predatory females. Ew. Yuck. Poor Louise Lasser, who was in Bananas way back when.
Silver City—Now, this I would like to see. I like John Sayles very much, and even if this isn’t one of his best movies, his pretty good movies are still enjoyable. Chris Cooper is the governor of Colorado, running for re-election, and whatever might ensue, I would imagine it would not be predictable comedy fare.
(I looked at the local movie listings, though, and it’s playing at theaters that go crazy with the commercials, so I might have to wait for DVD. Alamo, please rescue me.)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow—I have no idea what to think about this, although I heard someone refer to it as Sky Captain and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Lipstick and that seemed apt. It’s a movie that’s all about the cool appearance. It looks so amazing and retro. However, I suspect the quality of the script did not match the quality of the CGI effects. Also, I’m not sure I like the idea of people yanking actors back from the dead to stick them in movies without their permission, like Laurence Olivier. That’s just Not Right.
(I may rethink this, though, after reading a Roger Ebert review in which he notes that an actor might be happy to think that death would not prevent him from giving more great performances. Very cute. Very Barrymore.)
Touch of Pink—I think I might have to see a movie where Kyle MacLachlan plays the ghost of Cary Grant. (As opposed to using archival footage of the late actor.) The story sounds rather sitcommy: a gay Canadian guy’s Muslim mom comes to visit and to find him a nice girl to marry, and … stop me from saying it again! Please! Aaaaggh! Despite that, it does look appealing.
Wimbledon—It’s not that I particularly like Kirsten Dunst, it’s that she seems to have a knack for picking roles in very good movies. Or maybe, as with George Clooney, I have a knack for choosing to see only her good films. (I didn’t go anywhere near Mona Lisa Smile.) I may skip this one, though, even with Eleanor Bron.
This movie is from Working Title Films, which have produced a number of British romantic comedies, from Four Weddings and a Funeral to Notting Hill to Love Actually. Wimbledon appears to be in the same mold: Young rising tennis star meets over-the-hill retiring ex-star, and romantic formulaity ensues.
Maybe I could just watch Pat and Mike again instead.
Notable events/revivals in Austin:
Cinematexas International Short Film Festival—At Alamo Downtown, The Hideout, and other venues Wed-Sun Sept. 22-26. See the Cinematexas site for details.
Dear Pillow—One more week at Alamo Village. I swear I’m going this weekend. I swear.
A Dirty Shame—Previewing at Alamo Village 9/23 with John Waters in attendance. You can’t go. It’s sold out. I can’t go, because I forgot to order tickets last week. I am extremely cross with myself, because I have always wanted to see John Waters in person, and I went and fucked it up and now there’s no way to get tickets. I have no one to blame but my own little self, too. Damn.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—Playing at Republic Square Park on Wednesday 9/22 at 8 pm. I like seeing movies outdoors and if you haven’t tried this, here is a nice opportunity. Rolling Roadshow shows the outdoor movies on a huge inflatable movie screen, and it’s a lot of fun. Definitely bring a blanket or lawn chair, though. (Also, Republic Square Park has free wireless, if I remember correctly.)
This weekend I’m determined to see Dear Pillow and to watch one of the three rental DVDs we still have in the house, unwatched. I have not seen a new-to-me movie in weeks and as God is my witness, I’m seeing one this weekend. And if I am very lucky, it’ll be something better than powdered formula in a can.

3 thoughts on “movies this week: formula in bulk”

  1. Wimbledon, for me, is all about Paul Bettany. Ah, the sexiness. Yum. Plus, he incredibly tall AND he swore on Conan last night. What’s not to love? Also, Kirsten Dunst is adorable. I’m all over it.

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