Every so often but especially at the close of summer, a Variety reporter or two will write a story about how the formulas or genres that seemed to be working a year or two ago don’t seem to be working any more. Trying to calibrate the willingness of ticket-buyers to line up for this or that kind of film based on apparent trends or sociological currents is horseshit, of course. Movie-making is about inspiration, talent and gambling, and either you get that and run with it or you don’t.
Most producers and studio execs don’t, of course. Most are afraid to even go in the water, much less take a dive off the high board.
The underlying theme of these boring-ass articles is that producers and studio execs are terrified down to their knuckles at the idea of getting behind a film (in an idea or script form) or making a decision to greenlight a film based on a love of what the film could be and a deep desire to see this potential realized. Almost nobody thinks or operates like this, of course — they all want insurance and safety and rules they can depend on. In my book, that makes them cowards, milquetoasts, dilletantes.
These end of-the-summer Variety pieces — this latest one is written by Ian Mohr — also tend to conclude that stars seem to be less and less of an assurance that audiences will show up in force. Only Adam Sandler delivers! And only when he’s in a typical Sandler-brand comedy. Which means (and you don’t have to tell Jeff Blake this) that Reign O’er Me, good as it is (with a truly fine Sandler performance at the heart of it), is no slam-dunk.