Monday Morning Critic – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Twins, American Reunion and the Power of Nostalgia – Fear of a Black Hat DVD Review

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The most impressive thing about this weekend will most likely end up being how well Wrath of the Titans and The Hunger Games end up doing box office wise against Titanic being re-released. R-rated comedies like American Reunion aren’t going to burn up with the sort of box office numbers that the pseudo-blockbusters so far coming have been doing. It’ll make for interesting alternate programming for those who don’t have an itch for the blockbusters that come out to warm you up for the summer blockbuster season starting in May with The Avengers.

Where American Reunion ends up grossing in terms of box office numbers is best left to people better at prognosticating than I am. What I will say though is that it’s kind of amusing that Reunion is coming out around the same time that rumors of a Twins sequel starring Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Murphy start popping up. It’s not proof that Hollywood is out of ideas, though a good case can be made at this point, but it is proof of something an actor or group of actors can latch onto for a hit: nostalgia.

Did we need another American Pie film, much less a fourth film almost a decade after what should’ve been a conclusive chapter? No. Did we need one after a series of direct to video sequels that were cheap and made a profit? No. But the same reason why we have a fourth American Pie film featuring Seann William Scott, Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy is why we’re going to have a Twins sequel. People flock to films they already have knowledge of.

When you look at the American Pie kids you’ll notice something they all share: none of them had really been in a hit anything in a long time outside of Hannigan. And Hannigan was really just minor comic relief in that film, honestly, but she’s the biggest star of the group due to How I Met Your Mother. When you look at the stars of that film (Biggs, Scott, Klein, Nicholas and Thomas) you really have to think hard and do some head scratching to remember when any of them actually had something that could be considered a hit.

American Reunion is one last chance for these actors to get a big paycheck that comes from doing a big studio project that gets a wide release. A hit for an actor gives you a couple years of elevated income and opportunity. And nothing’s better for increasing your chances than going back to the well for something people will recognize. That’s why Arnold would consider doing a sequel to Twins on top of original projects. He used to be the biggest star on the planet but that was a long time ago in a Hollywood that has changed radically. It’ll also be cheaper to make than a sequel to any of the following similar hits he had:

Red Heat 2 – Lieutenant Art Ridzic (Jim Belushi) goes out to Russia after the fall of Communism to track down American Narco-traffickers with Major Ivan Danko (Schwarzenegger) in a reverse of the fish out of water formula from the first film.

Raw Deal 2 – Joseph Brenner (Schwarzenegger) is about to retire from the FBI but has one last task to do: bring down the remaining Mafia members he missed the first time around.

True Lies 2 – Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) has to save the world one more time.

Any of those films by necessity would come in between $100 and 150 million budget wise. That’s a big commitment financially for something that might not hit like Arnold thinks it could; in a recession people want guaranteed hits and those might not be big enough to be guaranteed to cross the $300 million or so mark overall to guarantee profitability. Twins 2 wouldn’t be.

At this point Arnold is coming back to a world he doesn’t have a secure place in anymore because of his political career. While he’s been in office as governor of California the days of an actor being big enough to draw in an audience has ended for everyone but Will Smith and Leonardo Dicaprio. When name actors go direct to video and the nature of the action star has changed radically since he single handedly redefined it in the 1980s, Schwarzenegger is a relic trying to prove his relevance. It’s why while he’s committed to the usual suspects for films, Expendables 2 and The Last Stand, a family comedy and sequel to a film that proved he could be more than an action hero makes sense in a lot of ways.

Triplets, as Twins 2 has been dubbed, is going to come in under $40 million or so (my guess) production budget wise and with a PG-13 rating $100 million domestically will be attainable. A good family comedy has a lengthier time in theatres because there’s always room for a family comedy; one can’t imagine Triplets having a hard-R rating with Eddie Murphy doing a variant on his ‘80s stand up routine midway through. It’ll draw well in theatres compared to its budget and do good number on DVD as well.

And with a film that’s profitable he seems like star again, more or less, and can get into bigger budgets and bigger paydays. True Lies 2 with James Cameron is going to get close to $200 million in budget if they want to match the original in scope; Arnold at this point can’t be considered anything but an unproven commodity again. We don’t know whether or not audiences will flock to him again like they used to. If he can string together some hits then he’ll be back in the driver’s seat.

Triplets is almost a necessary evil at this point; audiences have proven they’ll see a sequel to a film they have fleeting memories of before they’ll see something original. American Reunion functions the same thing for that cast; a chance at getting back into a better spot in Hollywood.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Fear of a Black Hat

What would happen if you took This is Spinal Tap and made it about rap music? You’d get Fear of a Black Hat, a mockumentary often overshadowed by Chris Rock’s similar CB4.

The film follows the rap group NWH, which stands for exactly what you think it does before “With Hats,” as they go from being semi-popular to being the kings of the rap/hip-hop world. But it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be as they go through all sorts of crazy shenanigans as seen through the lens of a grad student using them as the focus of her doctoral thesis.

Ice Cold (Rusty Cundieff) is the lead rapper, Tasty-Taste (Larry B. Scott, best known as Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds) is the secondary rapper and they rap to the beats of Tone Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence) who is so good he can use his genitalia on the turntable. They’re a spoof of NWA of sorts; if you’re a fan of hip hop & rap from the 80s and 90s you’ll recognize everyone they spoof as well as the generic trends of the time.

If you liked CB4 then you’ll love this film. Strongest recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

American Reunion – Jim and the gang come back to revive their careers … errr … have a high school reunion.

See It – Remember when the guys from American Pie were supposed to take this film and become stars from it? It was a short time and none of them really panned out. The last film that was a hit between most of this cast was what … Role Models with Seann William Scott? At least this film will probably be funny and a nostalgic trip of crappy teen sex comedies, at least.

Titantic (3D) – James Cameron apparently didn’t make enough money the first time and now wants to have another run … in 3D.

Skip It – The film sucked in 2D, I can’t imagine a third dimension adds anything to it.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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