18 August 2004

Druggies no longer mainstream?

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle is a really funny movie, but it isn't making any money. Are Americans too conservative for stoner comedies nowadays? So, from the first time I saw the preview, I was psyched about the movie "Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle." I grew up in Michigan, and down in Ann Arbor where I went to college we had a White Castle out on the south side of town. It was the perfect destination late at night, when nothing but greasy tasteless food would do. So I was psyched by the trailer for Harold & Kumar, and even more so by encouraging early reviews.

I went to see the movie last weekend, and it is a damn funny movie. The two leads are both great, and although many of the jokes are stupid (this is a stoner comedy, after all), there are some great moments ("Dude, did Doogie Howser just steal your car?" is about as good as this kind of movie gets). However, despite all that, this movie isn't making any money. As of the end of this weekend (it's second in release), "Harold & Kumar" has fallen out of the top ten and has only grossed $15.9M so far. So, the bottom line is, America is not warming to this movie.

I'm really starting to wonder whether America is simply too conservative for stoner comedies anymore. There's no escaping the fact that H&K->WC is all about getting stoned; it's the pot that's the motivation for their frantic White Castle search in the first place. Critics generally dealt with this pretty well (H&K is at 73% positive reviews on www.rottentomatoes.com), but it could be that the movie-going audience doesn't. While critics tend to be older, the prime movie-going audience is in the 18-25 age range, and that younger audience is notably more conservative than older folks these days, especially with regards to drugs (they didn't grow up with the counterculture).

It's sad. No more Bill & Ted's, no more Ferris Bueller... oh, well. At least we're smoking less (aren't we?)

one comment was posted on this back on my old blog:

i agree those movies are some of my favorites….American Culture is way too uptight for this kinda of humor…but hey at least we enjoy it!!!

Tasha (email is waterskiingchk88 at aol dot com) 29 July '05 - 13:32

14 August 2004

Polar Express and the Uncanny Trough

I just returned from SIGGRAPH 2004, and they were showing a bunch of clips from "Polar Express" in several events. Many people there were ooh-ing and aah-ing over it, and I was just puzzled. The footage they have from this film just looks completely unappealling to me (if you haven't heard about this film, it's a children's story where Tom Hanks, via facial & body motion capture, drives all the major characters).

In particular, Lance Williams, a CG industry veteran whom I respect, was talking about how Polar Express will really "change people's perceptions" of motion capture. If it does, I think it'll be for the worse. They had a number of videos simultaneously showing Tom Hanks' live performance and the rendered CG characters driven by the capture. To me, all that you learned by watching those video was how much more compelling the live performance was.

A friend quipped that "Polar Express" could be the American version of "Final Fantasy". The footage shown sure made it look that way.