MovieBob - Intermission
Things to Do Instead of Pirates

Bob Chipman | 20 May 2011 12:00
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The big new movie this week, Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, is terrible. Not just in the expected "3rd sequel to a series we're all kind of tired of" way, but in the most cynical and lazy way possible. It's essentially a re-dressing of the first movie with whichever actors they could bring back, sloppily assembled on the belief that all Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer have to do is get something - anything - called Pirates of The Caribbean into theaters and they'll automatically make their money back because ... well, heck, what else are you gonna do this weekend?

So, I thought it would be worthwhile to assemble a rundown of some other things (and not just other movies!) you could be doing instead of enabling Johnny Depp's bad behavior.

See Midnight in Paris

Alright, this is obvious to the point of "cheeky," but there really is no better act of defiance against a bad big-budget cash-vacuum than to skip it and see the inevitable smaller-scale movie released against it. Fortunately, in this case audiences (in the U.S., anyway) actually have a decent option filling that slot: A new comedy from Woody Allen that's actually one of his best recent offerings.

Best described as Back to The Future re-imagined by Classic Lit majors (or maybe Scott Pilgrim for folks with a fondness for the Jazz Age art/culture scene), Midnight stars Owen Wilson as a writer visiting Paris with his increasingly-unpleasant fiancée. Through a bit of story mechanic magic, he finds himself making nightly trips back in time to the Paris of the mid-20s - his "favorite decade" - where he finds himself swept into the freewheeling social circle of his literary/artistic heroes like Ernest Hemingway, The Fitzgeralds, Pablo Picasso, etc. Complications arise when he falls - hard - for a mystery woman of the era (Marion Cotillard) but this being Woody, it's more about screwball comedy than high-drama.

The selling point, of course, is seeing Wilson's hapless fanboy geek-out at the parade of famous "real" characters, and while the long-term standouts may be Thor's Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Corey Stoll as Hemingway, for me Adrien Brody as a hysterical Salvador Dali is worth the admission on its own. Obviously, the humor is kind of specific (i.e. if you don't recognize those names, probably not your scene) but on its own terms it's a seriously clever diversion. Although...

Look Up the Respective Works of the Names You Don't Recognize from the Character Roster of Midnight in Paris

Hey, why not? Just one quick example: Two of the funniest scenes in the film involve movie director Luis Bunuel. He's a name you should know. A bunch of his movies are on Netflix, including his first - the Dali collaboration Un Chien Andalou - and at least three are in the Instant Watch setup.


Is there water where you are? Is it supposed to be there, as opposed to being there because of one of Mother Nature's recent hot flashes? Maybe go splash around in it - you can accurately simulate the only vaguely interesting few minutes of Pirates without having to sit through the rest of the feature.

See Thor Again

Is watching a two-week-old action movie again to maybe scope out more Avengers clues a better bet than watching a bad brand-new action movie? Yeah, pretty much.

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