Thursday, December 13, 2012
The only time Hollywood makes films for adults is in the Fall/Holiday season. And those films are not produced because studios feel they have an obligation to the 70 million baby boomers who have supported them handsomely the last fifty years – no, they make those movies to win awards.
But they also throw us a bone with a comedy or two. There are only so many BLACK SWANS we’ll stomach. So what does Hollywood think we graying Americans want to see in our comedies?
Recently I was in a theater that showed SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK so the trailers were for older viewers. Three were comedies. Here’s what they were:
THE GUILT TRIP – Set Rogen (to attract some young people) goes on a road trip with his wacky obnoxious mother, Barbra Streisand. Hilarity ensues with such big jokes in the trailer as:
Barbra: "Don’t pick up hitchhikers. They rape."
PARENTAL GUIDANCE – Billy “Botox” Crystal and Bette Midler play wacky grandparents who have to wrangle kids. Hilarious moments like Billy getting hit in the balls.
THIS IS 40 – Another Judd Apatow yuckfest with sentimental scenes sprinkled in to take the curse off the plethora of gross jokes. Paul Rudd and Apatow’s wife (who I’m sure was the funniest actress he could find) in a romp over the heartbreak of turning 40. Hilarious trailer moments like Judd's wife walking in on Paul when he was on the toilet.
So is this what Hollywood thinks we want? Bat crazy grandparents and parents? Recycled old stars? Tired premises – buddy/road pictures, babysitting pictures, midlife crisis pictures? All with predictable endings I’m sure. Seth and Barbra gain a deeper understanding for each other and work out long festering issues. Billy Crystal winds up loving his grandchildren and finally learns the meaning of parenthood. Paul Rudd and Judd Apatow’s wife fall in love all over again and reclaim their youth in each other’s eyes. In all three cases it's all about second chances. Now I haven’t seen any of these movies and probably won’t… even though in the Billy Crystal movie he’s supposed to be a minor league baseball announcer (a fact not even mentioned in the trailer). You tell me how right I was predicting these endings.
The irony is Hollywood is trotting out all these musty conventions to the one age group who has seen them the most.
So why is this? Well, most of the studio executives are younger than this audience and has no affinity for what they want to see. There are very few older screenwriters working and those that are, especially in the comedy arena, tend to still be viable because they continue to turn out reliable formula scripts. Also, it’s not a priority. A film based on Hungry Hungry Hippos is (and I’m not kidding. This is really in development).
Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand driving across the country together? Unless there’s a 40-piece orchestra in the backseat and she’s singing every song Alan & Marilyn Bergman ever wrote, I’m keeping my twelve dollars.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM