My Take by Jim Carl - April 25, 2012

STEP UP 2: THE STREETS (2008)
December 21, 2012.  That’s the day the world ends, if you believe the stories in The Wall Street Journal and other such fine journalistic periodicals.  Actually, I don’t read The Wall Street Journal at all, but my roommate has a subscription, and sometimes I glance at the headlines of those issues he leaves by the crapper.  Those Aztecs were funny people.  Or was it the Mayans?  No clue, but I’m pretty sure the prediction was made by some dead South American Indians.  If you ask me, the earth started cracking on Valentine’s Day 2008.  How do I know this, you wonder?  Because that’s the day Step Up 2: The Streets unspooled in theatres. 

All roads in hell are littered with bad movies.  Right here is a copy of The Tourist.  Down that ashen slope is Take Me Home Tonight.  Clogging up the River Styx is Crank 2: High Voltage.  Beelzubub practically owns every 35mm print in existence of Jesus Christ Superstar.  But resting over there atop Old Clubfoot’s wooden throne is Step Up 2: The Streets…        

I can’t keep this up.  Searching for something clever or intelligent to write about Step Up 2 is sinking my galleon of perfect prose.  Let me instead say that I've never seen this movie.  Unless Marty McFly transports me back in time to Mrs. Rathefeller’s high school algebra class and forces me to choose between watching Step Up 2 and studying nonnegative integer exponents, it’s safe to believe that I never will see Step Up 2, because although I could probably get off on watching half-naked teenyboppers having sex on the dance floor, my belief that algebra causes cancer is iron-fucking-clad.  

Oh, but I'll never forget the first time I saw this idiotic movie’s trailer.  It must have been in January 2008.  I was sitting there, anticipating the cinematic Oscar-worthy masterpiece that would be Rambo when all of a sudden the screen looked like the projector had caught fire.  There was all this music, noise, flash-cuts, and earnest dialogue like, "When you dance in these types of competitions...you risk everything!"  I thought the theatre was being raided.  It took me a few seconds to realize that this was not some terrorist act to keep me from seeing the latest Stallone flick.  This was a movie trailer aimed at an intelligence level far, far beneath me, possibly people who follow Kim Kardashian on twitter.     

Seeing the trailer for Step Up 2: The Streets, I turned and whispered to friends, "Thank God I'm 40 and not retarded."   I’m not making this up.  I actually said that.  Funny how as you get older, the more grateful you become to not be part of a younger, more ADHD-riddled generation. 

I dunno.  Is it just me or have mainstream movies gotten dumber?  In the past weeks, I’ve seen trailers for trash such as Battleship (“From the toy company that brought you the Transformers!”), The Raven (Edgar Allen Poe returns as an action hero!) and Dark Shadows (Barnabas Collins does The Brady Bunch!)   I felt underwhelmed by these previews, but the mostly-teenaged audience around me hooted and cheered with glee.  I wanted to set all of them on fire and listen to their screams.  December 21 can’t arrive soon enough.

Being the brilliant opportunist that I am (you can ask anyone), I turned my Step Up 2 experience into an opportunity to test the limits of my friends’ patience with me, just to see how they cope with it.  I re-use my favorite line from the trailer every chance I can on them, no matter the occasion.  For example, we’ll be standing there in the kitchen, preparing a Red Baron Pepperoni Pizza because, you know, I don’t actually dine in French restaurants at every meal, and I’ll turn and shout, “When you set this microwave to cook at Speed Defrost…you risk everything!”   It’s the little things that make life worth living. 

How about you?  What’s the dumbest trailer you’ve ever seen?  Tell me about it.
 
JIM CARL is Senior Director of the Carolina Theatre. He has been in charge of its film program since 1995. Some of his favorite contemporary movies include True Grit, Jaws, Dolores Claiborne, Silkwood, The China Syndrome, The Right Stuff, Aliens, The Fog (1980), and almost anything involving Great White Sharks, Gilda Radner, George Burns, or is set underwater. His favorite movie of all time is Ordinary People. Some of his least-favorite contemporary movies include 300, The Other Guys, Moulin Rouge, District 9, Take Me Home Tonight, The Tourist, Sherlock Holmes, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Scarface (1983) and almost anything involving snarky twentysomethings, British gangsters, gross sexual humor, or extended action scenes in slow motion. His least-favorite movie of all time is Pulp Fiction. He is a firm believer in the presentation and preservation of 35mm film and will book any movie he suspects will make money, even if he hates it.

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