May 29, 2009

What to Do with Jonas

So, I've been trying to figure out what to think of the Jonas Brothers.  

Sure, that may seem like a weird thing to be spending my time worrying about.  But, since our move to Tallahassee and my change of career (to, well, uh, no career), I have way more time to think about useless things.  [Yay!  The blog should be rife with stupidity any day now!]  

It's not like I am obsessed with the Jonas Brothers.  I don't own a single song of theirs.  I don't own any movies or shows they are in.  I just observe the development of the band - well, can you call them a band any more?  They were originally just a confection created by the Disney machine.  That alone should qualify them for a big write-off.  But something happened along the way.  The kids write their own songs, play their own instruments.  They are hugely popular among young girls, teen girls, parents.  And now, they have their own show. 

Ah, the show.  Have you seen the show?  Originally, the thought of watching Jonas: The Show was about as attractive as watching Hippos Gone Wild on Animal Planet.  But one day I got stuck watching as the show came on and my kids were watching.  You know what?  It is funny.  No, seriously.  It is funny.  Not just lame and "tweener Disney contrived funny."  It has some really funny moment - mostly at the self-awareness of just how corny the band itself is on the verge of being at any given moment.  Did you ever watch the Monkees?  I used to watch it when I was growing up.  It was hilarious.  Jonas is in the same vein as the Monkees - and that is a compliment.  

The beauty of the Monkees show was that it was so over the top.  It was just goofy silly, largely poking fun at how ridiculous it was that people were going so insane over bands like the Beatles and other Brit groups.  I remember one show where Davy Jones was given a gig in a movie.  The other guys noticed how he was becoming so egomaniacal, so they tried to sabotage his performance.  At one point, they changed his cue cards.  He looks deep into the eyes of this blond beach bunny.  "I just need to say those three words.  You know, those three little words.  You're Under Arrest."  I laughed so hard at that.  It was just stupid.

I had the same feeling watching the Jonas show.  The episode I saw was about how the band wanted to go outside to get some silly item, but were going to be mobbed by the crowd of adoring fans.  I swear, that was a Monkees episode.  And the guys pulled it off - along with the expected song performances.  

The funniest Jonas appearance I've seen was actually in Night at the Museum 2.  It took me a while to realize it was them.  If you see the movie, pay careful attention to the cupids.  Their performance in those roles didn't just zing themselves, but they actually poked fun at every boy band in the last twenty years.  So, it is apparent that they have natural humor.  And anyone who has listened to any of their music realizes they have some really good musical chops.  And it doesn't hurt that they are attractive, young, and backed by Disney itself.  

So where does this go?  What is their ceiling?  Are they going to be successful separately, or do they have to stick together to win?  Will this be like 'NSync, where there can be only one star surviving?  Will they be relevant once they get to be adults?  This is a question facing all the Disney and Nick stars.  All of them are fighting to keep their Disney ties, while pulling away.  [Entertainment Weekly had a great story on this a couple weeks ago in their magazine.]  I don't know if we have really had a group like this come on the scene.  We've had groups that drew teeny boppers.  Let's not forget the Beatles were once dismissed as a trite youth band, before they had a hugely successful career.  What if the Beatles had Disney behind them?  Where would their career have gone?  Would it have helped or hurt?  

In that case, what if the Monkees had Disney behind them?  They were mildly popular with some big hits, but they didn't have much true talent.  If they actually could play and write well, how would things have been different?  And if they had a huge entertainment entity backing them?  Who knows?  I'm just curious to see what happens with the Jonas clan in the next few years.  Television?  Movies?  Music?  Broadway?  No clue.  Are they the next Baldwin brothers?  The next Estevez/Sheen clan?  Okay, maybe those are poor examples.

Well, I sense that you all are dumber for having read this.  I will do my best to create something more useful and intelligent next time.  But, if you end up paying homage to the Jonas Empire in a few years, don't blame me.  I tried to warn you.  And yooooou didn't listen.

May 26, 2009

Movie Resurrection

Now that the move is basically done, I will be able to spend more time on the blog.  One thing I enjoy doing is reviewing movies as I see them on my Rotten Tomatoes site.  (You can find the link to the left)  I have already seen Wolverine and Star Trek, and will see Night at the Museum 2 tomorrow.  As I see a movie, I usually review it over at RT and then put the link on my little movie listing on the right of this blog.  So, be looking for those.

Also, I plan on putting some posts up in the next couple of days about different things.  So be looking for those.  Or be running from those.  Yeah.

May 8, 2009

Let's All Go to the Mass-Marketing Opportunity

I love summer.  It is one of my favorite times of year.  Sure, I hate the heat, the oppressive sun, the lack of daytime diversions for children.  I hate the beach, the bugs, the sunscreen odor.  I hate the dearth of real sports - where the only thing left is baseball (said with disdain).  So, how could I possibly say that I love summer?

Summer movies.

That's right, the glorious summer cinema lineup makes up for all the nastiness that summer brings.  Just about every single week, a new flick hits the multiplex - meaning that for between 2 and 4 hours, you can escape the heat, humidity, and hurricanes (I had almost forgotten about blasted hurricanes).  MOVIES!!!

Think about the summer movies of years past - Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Batman (all of them), Men in Black, Spiderman, Pirates of the Caribbean.  Huge awesome spectacles.  I love summer movies.  They are movies I actually WANT to see - not just movies that some snooty reviewer thinks I should want to see.  And there are even surprises - movies that sneak into the summer lineup and end up being awesome (The Bourne Trilogy, WALL-E, Italian Job).  

There is a problem, though.  I have noticed that lately, the marketing for these movies are starting to dwarf the films themselves.  Sure, there has always been marketing.  I have glasses from McDonalds for Batman Forever - and now the glasses for Star Trek from Burger King.  My kids can pull out Kids Meal tie-ins from dozens of movies.  The marketing itself is not the problem.  It is the MASS-MARKETING!!!  With THREE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!  I can handle the glasses at Burger King, or the little character toys in the Kids Meal.  But Star Trek has a tie-in with E-Surance?  And Verizon?  What the what?  Why?  If anything, Star Trek should show how inept those companies are, not be tied into them - what with the advanced technology we see on display, reminding us how sucky our cell phones companies are.

Last year Iron Man had a tie in with 7-11 for Slurpee cups.  A couple years back, Superman Returns also did.  (Apparently The Hulk also did, but I didn't care.)  They had special cups with 3-D images.  You know, the ones you can scratch the side of and make cool sounds?  I have some of these cups in my cupboard.  So, no surprise when Wolverine this year pulls the same thing.  Well, that movie just came out last week.  On Saturday of last week - ONE DAY after Wolverine jumped into the cinemas - 7-11 had switched its cups to Terminator cups.  It is getting to be like holidays in the stores.  We start pushing the next one before the other happens.

I think the tipping point came back when the ridiculous Matrix sequels came out.  I was super excited.  And so were the marketers.  The second Matrix film was EVERYWHERE.  I read an article talking about how their challenge was to get coverage for the movie - they wanted to have as many people as possible "know about" the movie.  And they succeeded.  It had the highest "Q Rating" of any movie ever - something like 99.4%.  The opening weekend was the biggest Rated R movie opening ever.  And the movie was HORRIBLE.  It's too bad that they didn't spend half of that marketing budget on making sure the Wachowskis didn't go crazy instead.  But this is what the movie industry has become.  The hype machine is so powerful that it just overpowers the films.  

They are so worried about the biggest opening weekend that they don't worry about the movie itself.  That is why we see movies open to $75 million and then drop to $20 million the next week.  People figure out the movie is terrible and don't go.  That is what will happen with Wolverine this weekend - and most of the films coming out this summer.  It is rare to have a movie win three weekends in a row - or having a few huge weeks.  It is those movies that stand out - they ones that the hype is actually justified.  Word of mouth brings more people the subsequent weeks.  Why was The Dark Knight so huge last year?  It was a GREAT movie, with people telling their friends to go.  But even that movie nearly got toppled by the hype - by the time I saw it I was on the verge of feeling it wasn't as good as it was made out to be.  But how could it be?  It was touted like crazy for months.  

I understand the need for marketing to pull in as much money as possible.  But how about reining it in a little bit?  Do you really need to be on every cereal box, every waffle box, every soda box?  Do we need to have a Transformer Whopper (real thing coming this summer)?  Did we need a Gotham pizza?  Should the NBA (already with a image problem) be using highlights to promote Angels and Demons?  A sleepover at the Smithsonian?  Indiana Jones Adventure Snickers with a hint of coconut and "exotic spices?"  

Movie people - since I know you read this blog religiously - let's make a deal.  You just worry about making the movies as well as you can.  I'll go to the movies.  We'll both be happy.  Shoot, add a dollar onto my ticket price to make up for less marketing.  See?  That works out well for everyone.  You aren't fooling us.  We aren't going to go to the movies for the gimmicks.  We want to enjoy and have fun.  No one is dumb enough to fall for your cheap tricks.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go drink my Throwback Pepsi.