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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    A Year of Escapes

    “”The King’s Speech,”” a critically revered winner of four Academy awards, including Best Picture of the year, has made $135.4 million at the box office since its Thanksgiving release. “”Fast Five,”” a film in which Vin Diesel uses muscle cars to rob a police station, has made just under $140 million since its debut last week.

    Box office results are a valid measure of what moviegoing Americans are most interested in spending their money on, but what do they tell us about film as a reflection of culture? The following list of top box office grossers might have some answers.

    2011 in film (so far):

    ‘Fast Five’ – $139,853,000

    People love the familiar. This is the fifth iteration of the “”Fast and the Furious”” franchise, which has trafficked in burly brawls, car chases and collateral damage since 2001. That’s 10 years of people paying to see Vin Diesel drive. It’s the number-one movie in America after one week.

    ‘Rango’ – $120,407,000

    Maybe Gore Verbinski tricked enough people into thinking “”Rango”” is a kids’ movie. Or maybe people will pay to watch Johnny Depp do anything, even if Johnny Depp takes the form of a jittery cowboy lizard. I guess that’s not much of a stretch from Jack Sparrow. In better news: The Western genre is not dead and will probably never die.

    ‘Rio’ – $114,902,000 and

    ‘Hop’ – $106,358,000

    Come to think of it, people will pay to watch pretty much any movie with recognizable celebrity voice actors in the form of adorable animated creatures. Kids love anthropomorphic animals, so we all get to enjoy Rabbit Russell Brands and Jesse Eisenbirds.

    ‘Just Go with It’ – $102,894,000

    Adam Sandler plays a dude who wants to bang a really hot chick but ends up having to bang Jennifer Aniston instead? Just go with it. These two one-note actors going at it again must mean that people who watched “”Friends”” and “”Happy Gilmore”” in the ‘90s now have the expendable income to blow on romcom crap.

    ‘Gnomeo and Juliet’ – $98,831,220

    These same people must also have children. These children probably don’t read much. Fortunately, Shakespeare homages will never go out of style, nor will love.

    ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’ – $72,964,470

    This movie is too weird not to mention. You have to like Justin Bieber a lot to see a documentary about him. You have to like Justin Bieber to an unsettling degree to see a 3D documentary about him. This supple, golden-voiced cherub from Ontario is the only God some people have left.

    2010 in film:

    ‘Toy Story 3′ – $415,004,880

    People love nostalgia. Like Andy, those of us who saw the original “”Toy Story”” are now in college, and have graduated to more elegant toys, like beer bongs and iPhones. We miss 1995, and so do our parents. Pixar has us both covered.

    ‘Alice in Wonderland (2010)’ – $334,191,110

    With the reprise of 3D projection comes a reprise of stories everyone already knows. But we shouldn’t begrudge Tim Burton for fulfilling his dream of remaking every great film with Johnny Depp as the lead.  Once again: people will watch Johnny Depp in any form.

    ‘Iron Man 2′ – $312,433,331

    It takes a snarky billionaire playboy to show us that deadly weapons are a necessary evil in the war on Mickey Rourke. And it takes a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson to warn us that there are going to be a lot of superhero movies this year. That’s great news for the world’s 8-year-old boys, terrible news for mom and dad’s checking account.

    ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ – $300,531,751

    Good news: now you can enjoy Stephanie Meyer’s masterwork even if you’re illiterate. Harlequin romance, like Edward Cullen, will never die. Hollywood can milk movies out of the same set of characters and conflicts forever so long as they slap on a punchy subtitle.

    ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1′ – $295,001,070

    See what I mean?

    ‘Inception’ – $292,576,195

    Bet you know at least three people who saw this movie twice. Damn Chris Nolan’s ambiguous ending! But ultimately, doesn’t everyone want to live in their dreams?


    Wizards, vampires, superheroes and teen idols are the protagonists of the 21st century. They embody power and immortality and are everything we, the moviegoing public, are not. But for 90 to 120 minutes at a time, we get to live vicariously through them. CGI and 3D are the lenses through which we perceive their fictional reality. Character dramas like “”The King’s Speech”” make us think and reflect upon our own weaknesses as humans. But most Americans don’t want to reflect. They want to escape. See you (or ignore you) at the movies.

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