This week, we here at SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?! have a spring in our step and a song in our heart as we discuss 2001’s gonzo musical MOULIN ROUGE!, directed by the one and only Baz Luhrmann. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman play doomed lovebirds at the titular nightclub, where the activities taking place aren’t nearly as insane as the filmmaking on display. From the seizure-inducing imagery to the pop song mash-ups, you’ll swear you downed a bottle of absinthe by minute three. But does it all still hold up 18 years later? Follow the green fairy and find out!
Our month devoted to YA adaptations wraps up this week as we take on 2012’s coming-of-age dramedy THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky. Logan Lerman stars as an anxiety-ridden teenager who learns to navigate the living hell that is high school with a little help from new friends Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. All of this angst inspires nostalgia in co-hosts Luke and Steve, who weren’t always quite so surly. So take a trip down memory lane with us. It’s not as scary as it sounds, we swear.
Our YA adaptation month rolls on as we discuss 2013’s BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, directed by Richad LaGravenese and based on the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Witches–sorry, casters–and mortals be fallin’ in love as a centuries-long battle between good and evil finally comes to a head in this campy piece of Southern Gothic that shockingly failed to impress its intended teen audience. This film is truly bonkers, and we mean that as a compliment. So grab yourself a mint julep and watch as numerous Oscar winners (Jeremy Irons! Viola Davis! Emma Thompson!) embarrass themselves, all in the name of that potential franchise money. It’s kinda glorious.
Our month of YA adaptations continues as we take on 2014’s DIVERGENT, directed by Neil Burger and based on the novel by Veronica Roth. In a post-apocalyptic Chicago, society has been divided into five factions, and conformity is the name of the game. But what happens when our heroine Tris discovers that free will is more deadly than corrupt government officials and Parkour-obsessed douthchebags? All we know for sure is that Theo James is one sexy dude, and that this film isn’t nearly as bad as its reputation might suggest. Hey, we’re just exercising our freedom of speech here. Suck our cognitive transmitters!
Our month devoted to YA adaptations continues as we discuss 2008’s infamous vampire romance TWILIGHT, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Watch as a grown-ass man over 100-years-old seduces an emotionally-stunted high school girl! Swoon as he obsessively follows her everywhere and watches her sleep! Your heart will skip a beat as she destroys every other healthy relationship in her life to please this hunky monster! To say the messaging in this film is troubling–especially in 2019–is an understatement, although we’re not entirely convinced author Stephanie Meyer was even self-aware enough to understand what the hell she was writing. Hardwicke, on the other hand, has no such excuse for her ridiculous filmmaking flourishes. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that co-host Luke thinks this is one of the greatest films of all time. Team Jacob!!
SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?! is devoting the month of August to Young Adult adaptations, and we’re kicking things off by tackling one of the biggest: 2012’s THE HUNGER GAMES, directed by Gary Ross and based on the novel by Suzanne Collins. In a dystopian future where the wealthy and powerful rule the working class through violence and intimidation (oh, wait…), underdog heroine Jennifer Lawrence will participate in the annual titular event, where tweens and teenagers are forced to fight to the death. Will our dead-eyed protagonist make it to the end? Or will she get distracted by a love triangle that forces her to choose between a little boy who decorates cakes and Liam Hemsworth? Meanwhile, a supporting cast of veteran actors auditions for RuPaul’s Drag Race, while viewers everywhere wonder why they’re not just watching CATCHING FIRE again.
On this week’s episode, we take our first foray into the Jame Bond canon as we tackle 1989’s much-maligned LICENSE TO KILL, directed by John Glen. Timothy Dalton stars as the 007 agent, and this time, it’s personal, as he seeks revenge against the drug czar who left his best friend for dead after torturing him with a shark. We are not making this up. And here we thought this was supposed to be the gritty one. Throw in a diamond-sporting iguana, killer maggots, ninjas, an impossibly baby-faced Benicio Del Toro, and Wayne Newton as a lecherous television evangelist, and what you have could be one of the greatest films ever made. Well, we sure like it, anyway.
It’s Triple Lindy time, baby, as we take on 1986’s collegiate comedy BACK TO SCHOOL, directed by Alan Metter. Rodney Dangerfield stars as a boorish but lovable business tycoon who enrolls in college to bond with his son and finally get the higher education he denied himself as a teenager. Wild and wacky shenanigans naturally ensue. Some even involve Kurt Vonnegut. What the man doesn’t find, though, is some damn respect from our co-host Luke, and frankly, the rest of us are appalled. The man is an institution!
This week, SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!?! reveals their softer side as we take on 2003’s romantic comedy DOWN WITH LOVE, directed by Peyton Reed. An homage to the screwball comedies of yesteryear, Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor show off their flair for both verbal and physical comedy, which inspires both of our co-hosts to go into complete film nerd mode. Seriously, the degree to which Luke geeks out is borderline unsettling, although the biggest argument erupts over whether or not Mr. McGregor possesses that ever-elusive “edge.” Things get ugly.
This week, we head to the movie theater to check out the latest divisive thriller from Ari Aster, 2019’s MIDSOMMAR. The writer-director of HEREDITARY returns with more artsy horror, as a group of grad students heads to a small Swedish village for its annual mid-summer festival and discovers all sorts of bizarre and violent shenanigans. Grief, feminism, toxic masculinity, dance competitions, inbred oracles–all are present and accounted for, although whether they cohere into something substantial is certainly up for debate. The discussion gets heated. WARNING! THIS EPISODE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR MIDSOMMAR!!