Brainiac On Banjo: Tiny Heroes Vs Tiny Minds

Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign your children have waited to see. The morning will come when the world is mine; tomorrow belongs to me. “Tomorrow Belongs To Me,” written by John Kander for the play “Cabaret.”

I loathe going to movies alone. If the flick is great, I wanna talk about it. If the flick sucks, I wanna commiserate with a friend. Most movies are somewhere in between, and if I picked the right companion the after-movie discussion can be better than the viewing experience itself. In seeing Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, I was joined by my dear friend Martha Thomases, of DC and Marvel fame. We’ve enjoyed some great movies together, although some would be defined by critics as shitty.

Is a movie shitty even if you had a good time? Well, perhaps by consensus, but that should not humble your experience retroactively. Portal-to-portal, going out to the movies these days is an expensive proposition: the old phrase “coming soon to a theater near you” is obsolete because the vast majority of humanity no longer lives near a movie theater (Martha is a lucky exception). So when you add up all of your expenses, assuming you are willing to pay the going theater rate for a quarter’s worth of pop corn, seeing any movie in the theater is likely to cost the better part of a mortgage payment. Of course, those few surviving movie palaces of yesteryear are now showing live theater and kinda-live concerts, so we’ve got to shoehorn ourselves into little boxes made of ticky-tacky and endure twenty minutes of commercials before we get to the trailers.

But it’s a choice we, as the paying audience, choose to make. Not so much the movie critics. They have to see damn near everything, and I sympathize. They’ve been subjected to so many flickering images it’s a wonder they’re not all epileptics.

However, that does not justify those many critics who are simply assholes. They weren’t drafted, and reviewing movies does not yet count as community service. Tell me what you think, give me some facts and comparisons, and do not be pompous, arrogant or snotty about it. In the arrogate your brains, Mr. and Ms. Critic, are no better than those of the movie going public at large, and these days, you are no better informed about movies than the rest of us. Calm down, and just tell us why you think Mr. Kane’s girlfriend sucked.

Which brings me back to Quantumania, a visually beautiful movie with a fantastic cast, including several of the most honored performers of our time. The plot is Superhero 103 — it’s what you do when you’ve done two previous features with the same great cast and you’re setting up a major villain whose storyline will continue through a bunch more movies. Was it fun? Yes, I had a good time, and it seemed Martha did as well — our post-movie conversation happened during a cold windstorm and, noting that I’m deaf, there was a lot of shouting.

Did the critics? Well, by and large, No. Some did, but most of these pompous, arrogant and snotty professional key-pounders remain deeply resentful the rest of us chose to pay good money to see so many of them.

This is self-defeating. If not for the success of the superhero movies, a hell of a lot more theaters would have closed down over the past there years. Something’s gotta pay the rent so you self-absorbed bards without a shred of perspective can earn your livings bitching about redundancy and repetition.

Oddly, I don’t read these criticisms in their reviews of the endless rubber-stamp romcoms, gangster movies, and pithy war flicks. Most all of these movies, some of which I personally enjoy, suffer from the same issues that overwhelm critics who can’t pull the massive stick out of their asses before they join their babbling buddies in the screening room. I guess that’s because by the end of these romcoms, gangster movies, and pithy war movies the stars get laid, get killed, or both. Critics seem to think that makes them art flicks.

So the critical community was thrilled to see Quantumania’s box office take a significant drop in its second weekend. Gee, it’s only taken in $364,000,000 in its opening 11 days, with weeks to go in the theaters and years to go in secondary media. As it turns out, the bug flick had serious competition from a movie that attracts the same type of audience, Cocaine Bear, based upon a “true” story. I’ll probably see that one on teevee; I understand that before dying the bear was a very successful day trader.

(Fun Fact: Cocaine Bear was written and produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who did the highly-regarded and extremely profitable movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.)

So these critics look at the numbers and went into their “Marvel is dead, Marvel is dead” dance. If we were talking about Gotti, Left Behind, or Return to the Blue Lagoon I might understand — although I have not seen any of them, and I suspect each has their followers. Maybe. But these snobs were so excited that a Marvel movie didn’t do as well as some of its predecessors, even though it still managed to win both weekends while averaging over $35,000,000 a day.

It’s like blaming the death of so, so many newspapers on the movie critics. Well, maybe there’s a point there.

Of course, Quantumania still did better this weekend than did the Bear. But reality has little affect on the pompous, the arrogant and the snotty.