This week has given us a new movie about a mall cop. The film, Observe and Report, brings with it a bit of a dilemma for movie going audiences. It’s not about the talent in front of or behind the camera. Both Seth Rogen and Ray Liotta star, while new, but already proven, director and writer Jody Hill runs the show.
See The Foot Fist Way Now.
"Your weakness is disgusting to me"
And audiences surely have no reservations against a dark comedy that boasts jokes about bi-polar disorder and date rape?! Right? Who cares? They don’t care.
They only have one teensy tiny hesitation keeping them from watching this thing. They just saw this movie two months ago.
It was called Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and it was the number one box office movie for two weeks in February. So. . . now there’s another one?
Another movie with another overweight protagonist who takes his (easily mocked) station in life too seriously for those around him until actual evil strikes and he is left alone (at least in his mind) to uphold a moral code (only he knows) and bring about a unique brand of (bad ass) justice?
And only two months later?
Don’t Holly wood studios tell each other what they are doing from time to time?
“Hey Jim, it’s Bob at Paramount. Just wanted to tell you we’re doing a movie about a cop in a mall.”
“Oh really Bob? Cause we here at MGM were going to do a cop in a mall thing too. Shame. Well, we’ll put it on the back burner for TWO MONTHS. That should give those drooling creatons enough time to allow real life to seep out any memory of your movie, so ours will still be a hit.”
“Great idea Jim! Say, we’ll keep our Adam Sandler/ Eddie Murphy/ Bredan Fraser as a father whose imaginary stories comes true movie in the can for half a year. Then our completely similar movie will also be a success. I love making movies!”
How could this happen? It’s the same movie, albeit with a radically different tone and comedic styling-mostly. I understand that OAR is nothing like PB:MC in a lot of major ways. In fact, I’m sure of it. But in the end it’s the same basic sum-it-up-in-two-words premise, mall cops.
And thus we have ourselves A Mall Cop Dilemma.
Now this dilemma is not reserved for two movies about mall cops alone. No, no, no. This dilemma is far reaching and oddly omnipresent these days in movies, they can and will affect any kind of genre or premise. In fact, this dilemma has popped up several times throughout recent film history.
Here’s a list of some Deja vu inducing coincidences in film releases. You already know the first on the list, it might be the most famous double-vision film making of all time.
Armageddon vs. Deep Impact
These movies were released less than two months apart in the Summer of 1998. It was a time of roaring blockbusters produced by Jerry Brukheimer and directed by Michael Bay. One’s without robots or Shia Labeouf.
A simpler time when Tea Leoni could star in a movie, Morgan Freeman could portray a black president (O-ba-ma! O-ba-ma!) and Elijah Wood’s voice and looks had been adorably stalled in a seemingly never ending bout of childhood immortality.
These films had in common: Space rock headed towards Earth. Only option is manned flight with nukes, spacemen sacrifice much, including life to save planet, planet is saved-unless you count the east coast in Deep Impact. But believe you me, had Robert Duvall or Bruce Willis not gone up, shit woulda impacted even deeper!
The differences come in tone and characters. We have DI’s trained crew; selfless, dedicated, the best of the best. Armageddon (who I’ll now call geddy) hosts a darn tootin’, highfalutin’ squally gag of misfits, delinquents and perverts. And Steve Buscemi.
So, who won? I mean, which one is better? These are natural questions to ask of two obviously competitive options vying for the public’s money. Hence the Dilemma.
My vote goes to Geddy. Yeah, I know. I am a sucker fro two things. Crazy Russian Cosmonauts who look like scary pancake loving guys from Fargo, and Steve Buscemi. Love that Rocket Gun ridin’ sumbitch!
Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano
What is really so crazy about whole the Armageddon/ Deep Impact thing is that this exact scenario played out for the studios only ONE YEAR prior. You would have thought the embarrassment over the feud between lava spiller Volcano and smoke blower Dante’s Peak would have erupted a little common sense. But this disaster was largely overlooked in 1997. DP was released in February and Volcano (who I’ll call Volly) came the following April. WTF??!!
In both films we have protagonists who cry wolf, but no one listens until it’s too late. Then we get a series of near misses and a couple of gotcha’s that sum up into a “run away from danger” type of movie.
The only difference in these movies comes in location and characters, but really the movies are, again, the same. DP takes place in a smaller community, which happens to sit next to a long dormant volcano who decides to UNdormant itself and erupt! Pretty boy Peirce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton star in this for some reason, but really anyone would have sufficed.
Volcano actually goes for a Predator 2 angle on this one. “The Volcano’s in L.A. with a few days to kill.” Tommy Lee Jones wakes up to find himself fire chief at a time when molten lava is coming down Sunset Blvd. Then we get an hour and a half of the magma. It’s oozing everywhere. I thought of The Blob several times throughout, just a slow menacing force that is seemingly unstoppable and devours everything in it’s path. This kind of made the movie creepier, liquid rock like some molten slug of death, and the mid-to-late 90’s special effects just made it look all synthetic and plasticy, which only creeped me out more. Damn!
So who won this one? Besides saying “Mother Earth”, I will just go ahead and vote for Volly. Only cause I like his little nickname more. Oh, Volly.
Mission To Mars vs. Red Planet
OK, in fairness there was a whole 8 months in between these movies. But these two share so much in common, even besides the whole mars thing, that it makes me wonder if there was some down right plagiarism going on. I mean, 8 months is close, but not so close that Red Planet’s crew couldn’t have been all, “I like that Mission to Mars. Much better than our crap. Let’s borrow some their shtick.” Just look at those posters. Same friggin’ posters even.
And MTM and RP share soo much more alike, I don’t know where to begin. Let’s try.
1) Mars, and people on it. And *spoiler alert* aliens already on it.
2) Bad shit goes down. People lost. Reasons unknown.
3) Rescue mission also goes hay wire. More bad shit, none of it making any sense.
4) Complete lack of knowledge about anything space or Martian related. Total loss of reason and character over course of events.
What really worries me is that both of these movies had real talent, but both failed. Brain De Palma (Scarface, Carrie) directed MTM and RP’s screenwriter wrote Hard Target and Navy Seals. We gotta winner! But the real problem for both of these movies comes down to the science of it all.
MTM concerns it’s plot with the famous face on Mars, the image that looked like a human face on the surface of the planet and therefore lead to speculation of intelligent life. Well, only a month after this movie was released, scientists confirmed what we already could have told you from looking at the picture. It wasn’t a face. Not close. Not even a little.
So the aliens on Mars with all this technology to create Martian twisters and faces and shit is baloney. But, both movies do this. Both have genetecists getting simple DNA stuff wrong. Both have goofs about air pressure and gravity and atmospheres. And all the “Hey, we can breathe cause there’s air on Mars” stuff just irritates me.
RP was even worse at this. They claim in that flick that since the air (there is none) on Mars is 99% Oxygen (it’s not) it is breathable. Do you know how much Oxygen is in our atmosphere? I looked it up. It’s 20%. Our atmosphere is mostly Nitrogen. Weird, huh? So at 99% Oxygen, we can’t breathe. It’s too much O2. Too damn much. Plus, Oxygen is explosive. Any ignition of flame on Mars and the whole thing goes up like a bomb. A really big, red bomb. Like this movie.
Neither movie wins here. Get your facts straight, Science Fiction without the science is useless to me. Ya bein’ ignorant.
Tombstone Vs. Wyatt Earp
Tombstone was released Christmas day in 1993. A real family movie for the holidays. At least there was a character named Holiday. That’s right. Making his second appearance on this post, let’s give it up for Val Kilmer. Besides Red Planet, Kilmer acted his ass off in Tombstone, giving an actually great performance as the irreverent gun fighter. You had Kurt Russell as Earp, Bill Paxton, (Wait he was in Predator 2. Does that count as a second appearance?) even Charlton “cold dead hands” Heston.
Great gun fight, bad mother fucker mustaches, lots of intimidating walking. Not too shabby.
What? You want another one? How about instead of all the action and “I’ll be your Huckleberry” awesomeness, we give you an ultra emotional, slow as all Hell, Costner at the height of his silliness starring drama. Released the following June (six months later) it was simply titled Wyatt Earp. Brilliant.
Basically the difference is in the emotional effects the movies try to instill on the audience. One wants you to feel like you’re there, sitting with them, dramtically pausing and eyeballing each other. The other wants you to like watching douche bags get shot by non douche bags. It comes down to that. Not much left to say on this one, but I would have to go with Tombstone, if only for the stache bash going on in that one. Epic stashes of attitude.
I could talk on and on about other cases of this Dilemma popping up, but I think you get the idea. In the comments please add any double movie dilemmas you particularly like. Let me know. I think this could be interesting.
Stayed tuned for my full length Mall Cop throwdown. Where I pit Paul Blart against whatever the Hell Seth Rogan’s character’s name is. It’s sure to be a knockdown drag out battle of badges down to the last. I just have see Observe and Report first. Off to the theater!