What Has Happened To Hollywood?

November 9

                          There are few times when I get a break from the tilt-a-whirl that is sports and enjoy alternative forms of entertainment.  And no, I don’t mean the Gold Club.  Although I hear they have a killer buffet.

                          After watching the Eagles get screwed by referees who don’t know how to spot a football, I flipped through the 500-channel universe and found not a single thing to watch.  Formulaic chick flick?  Mmm, no.  The history of trap shooting?  Probably not.  Haunted homes of New England?  Scared me away.

                         “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the 79th rerun?  It was funny the first five times.  ( “What’s the state fish of Hawaii?  Humuhumu’nukunuku’apua’a.  Yeah bitch! ”  )  “Entourage” reruns? ( I hate that girl Ashley, reminds me of a former girlfriend.  Freakin’ paranoid.  Eric should jump off that crazy train. ).  And what is “Sex Games Cancun?”  Oh, my …

                          So I check the newspapers and this is what I see:   The grave-robbing “This Is It?”  I might go because my dear wife is a huge Michael Jackson fan.  The living Michael Jackson, that is.

                          “Saw VI?”  There have been six of these things?  Who is more depraved, the people who made these movies and whose Malibu homes are built on blood money, or the people who go to see them? 

                          Surely there’s something better than another hack-for-sport flick?  No luck so far.  We have plots ranging from alien abduction to evil possession, from yet another vampire movie to zombies, from computer-generated animation to the 17th remake of “A Christmas Carol.”  A Chrismas movie?  It’s November freaking 8th !

                          What in the name of  Hank Fonda has happened to Hollywood?

                          I’m not delusional.  Hollywood has always been about the profit margin, movies or television.  I saw it up close.  I also know that even if the motive was money, Hollywood put out a much higher percentage of quality films in the past.

                         Hollywood did not always underestimate the intelligence of its audience so whole-heartedly.  Quality scripts were still in demand, and there were plenty to be had.  There might still be plenty of good scripts, but few see the light of day.

                         Or maybe the audience got dumber. 

                         One movie nailed it — “Idiocracy.”  It was a future world parody that foresaw a nation of dummies.  The #1 movie in the future was “Ass.”  The entire movie was a shot of someone’s ass.  That’s it.  Audiences were howling.

                        Actually, “Ass” might be an improvement over some of the bilge that Hollywood spews out today.  At least it’s not violent. 

                        Now, if it bleeds it leads.  If it’s evil or other-worldly, it gets slapped up on the screen in 90 days.  If a computer can do it, all the better.  What is worse?  Corporate Hollywood’s profit lust, or the fact that we as a movie-going audience eat up this crap? 

                        I realize many teens frequent the movies, but does anyone care about the karmic payoff for feeding a steady stream of depravity to young minds?  I’d almost rather have them watch R-rated movies about sex instead of violence.  We’ve got a generation of people who simply don’t have the aversion to violence that we did. 

                       I can count the number of good movies I’ve seen in the last five years on one hand.  Not coincidentally, a couple of them have been sports movies.  If you don’t well up at “Cinderella Man” or “Seabiscuit” you don’t have a heart.  I’ve also heard some great things about Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”

                      “Hoosiers,” “The Natural,” and “Field of Dreams?”  Not only some of the best sports movies ever, but some of the best movies of all time, period.  And don’t forget “Major League.”

                      Done well, movies about sports can provide some of the most compelling storylines around.  They’re often gritty, funny, and, here’s the best part — they’re real.  They have humanity.  Remember “humanity?”

                      That’s why I have high hopes for the movie “The Blindside,” the adaptation of the brilliant Michael Lewis story about Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher.  Sean Tuohy, the patriarch of the family which took in Oher when he was a kid from a broken home, was interviewed on KNBR by “Fitz and Brooks” last week.  He did something truly amazing in helping save and transform Oher, and Oher did something truly amazing by turning his life around.

                     I have high hopes that subjects like this will continue to somehow find their way to the screen, but slim hopes that Hollywood will make that the norm.  Now, back to the remote …

                     Oh, goody, “Funny Games” is on again.

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