Monday, April 9, 2007

Apparently I’m Not the Only One Who Didn’t Want to See ‘Grindhouse’



It was a decent weekend for two movie luminaries that audiences have grown to love. Nope, I’m not talking about directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, but Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. The skating comedy Blades of Glory topped the box office again with a $23 million take. The much ballyhooed double-feature homage to 70’s exploitation, Grindhouse, took in a paltry $12 million to place fourth over the holiday weekend.

I’ll admit that while perplexed, I really didn’t want to see Grindhouse. I like the idea of resurrecting the double-bill, and movie tributes from any era can be fun, if not very popular (remember The Good German?). In between the two features are a block of faux trailers for similar trashy fare. The most praised (and available on the web) of these is Thanksgiving from Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel). Obviously “inspired” by early-80’s slasher flicks, this very graphic trailer is pretty sick and wrong. Seeing this thing alone made me glad that I chose to miss Bob and Quent’s three hour plus opus to garbage.

This may also explain the low numbers. Since Grindhouse was not only beat by one but three family-friendly comedies (the other two being Are We Done Yet? and Meet the Robinsons), logic would dicate that mainstream audiences don’t want such lurid stuff. In the glory days of the grindhouse theater this would have been okay since these films were very low budget and almost always made money (See Roger Corman’s book How I Made 100 Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime). This film has one big star and cost something between $55-$65 million, which it will apparently struggle to make back (along with ad costs, distribution, etc.). Grindhouse 2 seems very unlikely at this point.

This movie feels like a vanity project for the two directors, who made a film on clout that had no real demand. According to most reviews they deliver on exploitation promises, which will make this a love-it-or-hate-it experience. If this is your cup of dirty tea, you’ll probably eat it up. If you are more sensitive and claim to have a moral compass, it will most assuredly offend you.

Flying in the face of film snobbery everywhere, I’m a film geek in the latter category.

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