As of late, when I open my Fandango app I’m disappointed.
It’s the summer. And, I know, I know. Summer is the time for kids to be at the beach, to be in the sun, having fun. But I’m in Florida - you can have fun in the sun everyday. When I was a kid, awaiting previews to see what would soon be playing each summer was like watching gifts gathering underneath the tree before Christmas.
Maybe I’m still a kid, because each time I look at Fandango I keep hitting the upcoming tab hoping some new exciting gifts are awaiting me. But alas, it is yet again another summer of sequels.
It seems the extent of cinematic excitement this season is going to be Now You See Me 2. Just 2? Ah, I stand corrected - the full title appears to be, Now You See Me: Second Act. Why not Now You See Me, Now You Don’t? Humor us at least, Lionsgate. As I scroll through the listing of enthralling features headed to the big screen, the biggest budgeted films can’t seem to scratch up the least amount of originality.
Never mind it’s the summer of sequels, why can’t we at least hide the fact that we lack originality, instead of just leaving it exposed in titles like an open wound: Now You See Me 2, The Conjuring 2 (No thank you, The Conjuring I), Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse (How is it Marvel series continue to meddle with end-of-world themes and yet never end?!), Kun Fu Panda 3, Independence Day: Resurgence. Either it is a lack of originality or production studios are simply feeding our lazy-mindless demands, that prefer a rehash of the same story for the third time. Call it what you will, it’s a sequel. And it’s unoriginal.
Whatever happened to films that used to be about stories, rather than it's main draw being CGI and 3-D glasses? When did we get so lazy?
Summer films used to be pure magic to me. (I think my mom was actually concerned at one point - ok, more like most of my upbringing.) And it didn’t have to be Harry Potter or The Sword in the Stone on screen to light up the senses. In fact some of the most basic 90’s plots were more likely to get my attention than any modern summer blockbuster. (Granted, yes I am a girl who is less interested in Marvel Comics than the average guy, and can only recollect having been remotely willingly to see such films when on a date.) Yet modern sequels and lackluster stories are so decked with technological bells and whistles, half the time the plot doesn’t even make sense. (And audiences don't even realize it.) Simplicity in story lines seems non-existent anymore. Yet some of the most clever plots, the most classic films, were quite possibly the most simple.
There used to be a genre, a type of film we called coming-of-age. These were the movies that met most of us where we were at. These were the films my summers were made of. These were the films that followed an 11 year old daughter of a funeral home manager, in love with her English teacher and desperate for her first kiss. These were the films that watched a group of pubescent boys spend their summer days playing baseball and nights conjuring up backyard monster stories. These were the films that set Taming of the Shrew to the modern day high school romances. These were the films that discovered a small town dysfunctional family, with an overweight mother, a mentally handicap younger brother and an apathetic older brother, that really isn't about anything at all, other than the quirky-enough-to-be-relatable characters who casually navigate the plot, and still manage to entertain. These were the movies that showed the awe and depth of the simple things in life.
Yet again, these are the movies I grew up with. So maybe my nostalgic-bent heart inclines me towards stories of such simplicity and originality.
While coming-of-age films are scarce nowadays, we have more access to movies that our public libraries ever did.
So now I leave you with these few gifts to get you through the summer:
The Kings of Summer
Maybe this trailer puts it best. Truthfully, I greatly anticipated this film for another young reckless Stand By Me. The first time I watched it I was disappointed. (I tend to do that: expect something great, be disappointed because it didn’t meet my expectations and then return to love it, discovering so much I overlooked.) Guess, I've made my way back.
Clearly, no girl needs to put herself through such an education as this leading role does, Jenny (played by the irrevocably tour de force Carey Mulligan.) Based on a memoir of British journalist Lynn Barber, it became known in England, she had a two-year affair with a man in his late 30s. Though it is a far cry from any Lolita-esque depiction. This story entertains the notion that just because the world is your oyster, doesn't mean it's ready to be shucked, even for a girl well beyond her years.
The Spectacular Now
When a friend first suggested I watch this, I believe I laughed in his face.
At the time I assumed any film with Miles Teller was a frat-boy’s playland, that Shailene Woodley was caught in a cycle of melodramatic book-based teen novel adaptions, and that the pair would be an exhaustive romance to waste my time on. I was completely wrong. The Spectacular Now is likely one of the most over-looked, under-praised coming-of-age films in the last two decades.
I only wish I had seen this film sooner.
I wish I had seen this film before I ever dated. I wish every girl would see this before she starts dating. I wish every young person would watch this film. Dealing with issues of the awkward dawn of relationships, being the second-choice date, and observing the subtle developments of addiction, it does so in the most subdued way. Yet it is so deeply relative to how most young people settle into a lifestyle, and the course many of us fumble upon in choosing someone to love. It is the most faint observation of dependence. Really making it the most definitive of its kind.