All right, turn my headphones up. Let me hear that bass. Then I want to hear that trout.
ON THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF FIGHT CLUB
“I can’t get married – I’m a thirty-year-old boy.
So much was posed by Fight Club that it may be easy to overlook its conclusions, or to not understand them, but the film is still a testament to something, and to a culture that is still omnipresent. For most of my friends it rang home, it was – as Quentin Tarantino described it – “a diamond bullet to the brain.” The premise of the narrator’s conundrum is that he feels like he never grew up. Raised by women, his father figure absent either figuratively or literally, it didn’t matter. A generation without war. A generation soft.
And if Where the Wild Things Are is successful, it will because it hits this generation right in the solar plexus. Of course, that was ten years ago, and that thirty year old boy may feel like or be a forty year old man. And he may be why a film like The 40-Year-Old Virgin was successful, if only for the archetype. Many men of this generation still have their toys. Still play computer games, still go to Disneyland on a regular basis. Some buy toys under the auspices of getting for the family or for their children. That’s not to say this terrain is the exclusive province of men, mind you. The children of Spielberg were raised to think that holding on to your inner child and imagination was one of the most important things to do, though – ironically – one of Spielberg’s least successful films was a film that tried to with the notion of being a parent and (a) Peter Pan.
There is obviously an audience here, but what WTWTA will test is if it’s an audience that will go repeatedly to a film that isn’t quite a kid’s movie, and if that’s enough if children don’t attune to it, and if some parents become horrified by it. That’s not to say it isn’t a kid’s film, but it’s not just – the thematic content suggests that it poses questions more literally than the existential crises of toys in the Toy Story films. The production was troubled, and the process of making it was longer than was expected (the film test screened in 2007). Partly because it didn’t offer the neatness or easy solutions, the obvious happy endings of what would normally be its video shelf neighbors. At the same time, films like Bambi, Dumbo and Pinocchio traffic in dark elements, the likes of which are hardly touched by today’s G rated fare.
Will those of the hipster and slightly older set latch on to this film, make the effort to see it? The problem is that the film might not be fish nor fowl. It may be Dylan going electric. And where Up brought up questions of mortality and purpose in life, it could still fall back on being an animated adventure film that – again – left the audience with a 100% upbeat ending. But this points out what makes this film worth seeing: It’s a risky film, a film that will surely become a favorite of a certain audience who see it, who relate. Perhaps that audience is made up of fans of Fight Club, but just the same.
SELF-PREDICTION, YOU’RE HEADING FOR SELF-PREDICTION
Even though Wild Things might face some backlash, and print critics have not been as kind as On-line (at least in the AICN. CHUD, Hitfix circles), it’s a kids film with older competition. It should open. Paranormal Activity expands to almost 800 screens, and if WOM plays it might double last week’s number. It might also flat-line.
The Stepfather should do some business as a horror film in October, while Law Abiding Citizen could be a sneaker if Jamie Foxx can draw an audience. But all will have to see if Couple Retreat keeps playing. Not all dates want to see a kids film.
Let’s do this, and don’t stop y’all:
1. Where the Wild Things Are – $28 Million
2. Paranormal Activity – $17.5 Million
3. Couples Retreat – $16 Million
4. The Stepfather – $10 Million
5. Law Abiding Citizen – $9.5 Million
And then Sunday, I’m going to fight Shatner. William Shatner.