So Will Ferrell‘s the dorky step-dad and Mark Wahlberg‘s the cool, natural, Esquire-reading dad all the way through, right? Black and white, cool and uncool, relaxed machismo vs. anxious pathetic…sharp divisions observed. Up until the third act, of course, when Wahlberg shows his vulnerable flaws or twitches and Ferrell quietly mans up in some gracious, compassionate way. I know this movie before I’ve seen it. But I have to say that I honestly laughed at the motorcycle gag. And knocking out the cheerleader with the basketball…that too.
Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws opened exactly four decades ago — 6.20.75. I still say that Laurent Bouzereau‘s two-hour “making of Jaws” documentary is more engrossing than the film itself. John Milius reportedly wrote Robert Shaw‘s recollection of the Indianapolis shark slaughter (740 men eaten), which is easily the film’s best scene. You know what I miss? That slightly woozy feeling you’d get after sundown on a hot July night when you’d gotten too much sun that day. Your skin was red and hot and maybe peeling, but in a certain way it felt wonderful with the aroma of suntan oil and Noxzema sunburn spray. Those were the days.
I’ll bet you $100 bucks that 97% of those who consider themselves horror fans have not only never seen this scene but have never even heard of The Orphanage, etc. I could watch this scene 100 times and it would get me every time. When we hear the sound of the door opening…God! This is the genius of director Juan Antonio Bayona and producer Guillermo del Toro.
Jeffrey Wells to Grantland‘s Wesley Morris: “As a fellow disser of Dope, what are your reactions to its underwhelming box-office performance this weekend? MCN’s Len Klady is eyeballing $6.5 million this weekend and a final theatrical gross of $18 to $20 million. I know that people I spoke to at Sundance thought that Dope would be the next Pulp Fiction or at least a Pulp Fiction in Inglewood, and that it would perform very, very strongly on both sides of the cultural aisle. But maybe not? Maybe it’s too “white” in a certain sense?
Dope “has been the most hotly auctioned film of the [Sundance] festival,” you wrote. “I don’t know whether Open Road and Sony Pictures, who’ve acquired Dope, went for it because it feels, to them, authentically black or because the blackness is familiar to the world’s marketplaces.” Or because Famuyiwa is supplying the kind of “black shit [that] white people like.”
A final theatrical tally of $20 million is better than nothing — it’s not “bad” — but it’s not that great for a movie that was hailed by so many fluttery-voiced Sundance critics as something akin to the Second Coming. Then again maybe it’ll become a sizable hit when it starts streaming. What do I know? I’ll tell you what I know: Dope is nowhere near as good as the Sundance critics were claiming. I was one of the very few (along with Morris) to call bullshit on this particular strain of Park City hype.