Sunday, May 8, 2011

Summer Movie Season: Why Should I Care?

Apparently on May 6 the "Summer Motion Picture Extravaganza" began, which unofficially commences the Movie-Tie-Ins-Till-Your-Eyes-Bleed Season as well.

Every year on the first Friday in May THE Major Motion Picture is supposed to resurrect the movie theater industry out of its doldrums and deliver the next big blockbuster that everyone MUST go out to see. This is followed quickly by the Memorial Day Ultrabudget Feature Film, not to be undone by one or two Incredibly Adorable While Hitting the Adult Demo As Well Kids Movie (quickly followed by the Incredibly Stupid Kids Movies With Too Many Fart Jokes). Also in June is the Upstart No One Saw Coming Comedy But Ends Up Making $150 Million, and that film ends up launching the career of a brilliant actor, and also launches the career of the other comedy actors into the Incredibly Stupid Comedy Movie No One Sees (this movie arrives - of course - right after awards season).

July brings us the Fourth of July Special That's Felt Like The Trailer Has Been on a Constant Loop Since April and Movie You Felt You Already Saw Before It Got to Theaters Thanks to the Two or Three or Thirteen Ad Campaigns It Has Going, as well as the Movies That Hoped To Piggyback On Normal Summer Movie Success But Everyone Decides Wasn't Worth Their Time.

By the time August comes (and with it the This Movie Came Out Too Late in the Summer For People To Care Movie), you have a giant headache from going from extreme hot to extreme cold so many times that you don't even bother with Potential Oscar Movie and you finally decide to, you know, enjoy the outdoors for a little bit!

Normally in a summer I am able to limit myself to two or three movies. In the summer of 2007 between May and August, I saw 8. Here's a list:

Spider-Man 3
Shrek the Third
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Live Free or Die Hard
Ratatouille
Transformers
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Simpsons Movie

There were some movies from this list, looking back, where I'm glad I was able to see it in the theaters. (Transformers! Harry Potter!) There are others, however, where I look back at my ticket stub and go, "I saw The Simpsons Movie in the theaters? Twice?"

So from that summer on, I have put summer movies to a rigorous test to make sure it really was worth forking over all of that money. Here are some guidelines I follow:

1. Do I look at the previews and like what I see?
This is an easy one to follow. If you don't like it, stay away.

2. Is the plot any good, and is it executed in the film well?
Too many times I have gone to a movie and seen a film with a plot the size of a paper clip, or a good plot with actors that cannot act. How did this movie get approved anyway?

3. Am I going to like it after I see it?
It is important when the credits start rolling to look back at the two hours you just spent in the air conditioning and go, "Yea, I think that was worth my time."

4. Am I going to remember it a week later?
Will I look back on the experience and go, "Oh, yea, that was a fun time!" or do I go, "Wait - I saw that movie?"

5. The Brother Factor (optional)
I find that a lot of the kind of movies I enjoy are the ones my older brother enjoys as well. He is very passionate about his movies, and will explain at length why it was marvelous or why it was terrible. If it's a movie that he didn't like but I did, I better have a good case why I liked it, or else it's not going to feel worth the $10 after I talk to him. (This happened with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I like it - I felt it was a decent wrap-up to the double movie, but he couldn't stand it.) But he also is a good decider on if I should go and see it at all! Should I see Transformers? He went first - he loved it - he took me and my dad to see it. Should I see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? He went first - he loathed it - I have never watched it. (Should I see Transformers: Dark of the Moon? Only Matt will tell.)

6. Would I buy it on DVD?
This one has to have a disclaimer attached to it. I don't buy many DVDs. Unless it's a movie from my childhood and it's $5 or less, I probably won't get it. Unless I really liked the movie. This has happened three times in the past year - I came out of the theater loving How To Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, and Tangled, and immediately knew those DVDs would enter my collections as soon as they came out.

7. Is it worth taking the money out of my wallet?

With the state of my wallet, I am often tight-zipped with my wallet. So if I am going to spend money on a movie, I am going to make sure it was worth it. Most of the time I don't feel a movie is worth it, and will just wait until my local library system makes it available. A free movie is always worth my free time. But a movie I will sit in a dark theater is going to, usually, take $5-$10 away from me, so I'd better not come out and go, "Man, I wish I had my money back! I could have waited till this came out at the library!"

8. Am I going to regret not going later?
I like going on entertainment websites, and sometimes they'll "discuss" the end of a movie in one of their articles. A lot of times I'll just click on it because I don't mind finding out, but last summer I made the mistake of not going to see Inception in the theater. My family saw it, loved it, but when we got together we couldn't talk about it because I had not seen it yet! By the time I realized I should have seen it, it was gone from the theaters. What was worse, the entertainment websites were always writing something related to Inception - its music, its ending, its actors - and I had to literally shut off my computer so I wouldn't click on those articles and spoil the movie! It finally came out on DVD, and for the first time ever, I actually went to a movie store and rented it right away, even though it cost me $4 and I had to return it in 24 hours. I didn't care - I'd been counting down the days till I could find out what everyone was talking about. I remained spoiler-free, and watching it on that Tuesday in my living room was a magical experience.
...But I should have seen it in the theaters to save me from the torture.

So I do go through quite the procedure to see if I want to see a movie or not. But it will help me save a little money this summer. Will I see Thor, Captain America, or Green Lantern? That will depend on The Brother Factor. Do I need to pull out money on something like Bridesmaids or The Help? I can keep my wallet in my purse and see it from the library later. Is the final chapter of Harry Potter a must-watch-now movie? Um, yes - especially if a theater will show both parts 1 and 2 back-to-back. That would just be awesome.

If you would like to save some money, just follow my eight easy steps. You'll come out of Summer Movie Season with two or three I'm So Glad I Saw That movies and more money in your wallet.