This is the September edition of Apollo’s Bog, a new monthly feature that takes a look at upcoming films and music for which we have genuinely low expectations. While we want to avoid jumping the gun and panning a film or album before experiencing it, these selections are specifically chosen because we doubt it can gracefully flutter its wings upon release. Based on the sway of its marketing campaign, trailers and singles, we judge art sullenly and aptly.
Love Happens (Sept. 18, Brandon Camp)
A best-selling self-help guru, coping with the death of his wife, falls for a florist that he meets at one of his seminars.
This cookie-cutter romantic drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Bill Pullman – I’m sorry, I mean Aaron Eckhart – is either a throwback to precursors or a disaster zone of unoriginality.
The trailer pre-packages its torpid genre ingredients. Behold the holier-than-thou plot device, the meet cute. Eckhart and Aniston bump into each other turning a corner in a hallway, and in a bout of love at first sight, he asks, “Would you like to have a cup of coffee?” There’s not even an effort made to give us something we haven’t seen before.
Aniston, who’s suffering career death Kate Hudson style, is sleepwalking through another ill-fated box office dud about whimsical romantic love missing in her own overly publicized life.
Formal grievance: Enough close-ups of Aaron Eckart’s mug. Thank You For Smoking, Meet Bill and The Dark Knight all had plenty of that.
Judy Greer is rudimentarily typecast as every girl’s closest pal in these types of films. Greer told Entertainment Weekly, of working with Aniston, “All the roles that she’s played – I’ve always wanted to be her best friend.” Seemingly unconcerned about career mobility, Greer may never be a legit lead.
The trailer reveals way too much, including Eckhart running through a forest after taking advice from Dan Fogler. It actually shows us the scene in which Eckhart shows up at the flower shop and the two decide to get together, which is clearly later on in the film.
Another unchallenging role for Aniston, Love Happens is a commodity that has been spewing out of the studio system for people who live as boring, clichéd lives as its characters. The demand for it died before the extinction of VHS tapes.
Trailer music report card:
Goo Goo Dolls, “Better Days” C-
Fame (Sept. 25, Kevin Tancharoen)
Dance students struggle for perfection at a competitive performing arts high school in New York. Alan Parker’s Academy Award-winning 1980 original ranked 42 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 best high school films.
When it was decided that the remake of Fame would not be R-rated like the original but rather a PG kid-friendly version, it must have a fairly simple solution to a problem. How could the High School Musical franchise continue to be a stable moneymaker in the multiplex without officially being a part of the franchise? Remake Fame – diluted for kids!
This unnecessary September release is an excuse not an exhibit. It won’t have half the impact of the original, though it looks visually polished, it’s mostly a money grubber in a typical deadspot in the year of the box office. September is almost as bad as January – but at least Kelsey Grammer, who appears as a member of the performing arts faculty, gets to juxtapose the series debut of his next big sitcom Hank with this forced attempt at a blockbuster.
The film has been described as a reinvention instead of a remake – a ‘reinvention’ that just happens to capitalize on name brand recognition and an enormous fan following that adore a film much different than this safe teen fare. The big money men merely wanted to see the title song shine once more with dollar signs.
Unlike Parker, who had a distinguished directing resume at the time of Fame, Kevin Tancharoen has thus far choreographed Madonna, directed Britney Spear’s Onyx Hotel tour and remixed projects for Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Tyrese. So Tancharoen understands dance choreography and maybe a little about music, but can he handle a film of emotional depth? Can he choreograph ambition, triumph and adversity in the form of affecting pathos in between those dance steps? Yawn.
Trailer music report card:
“Fame” (cover) B-