Now, the Jackasses still did pretty well. But man oh man, those closed-circuit demon-spirits really walked away with it this weekend. You moviegoers are an ever-trend-consuming tribe, you are. Always on to the next reality TV show-esque movie.
1) Paranormal Activity 2 — $41.5M
That much. That much money. $41.5m worth of you went out to watch some nanny-cam footage for an hour and a half. Because supposedly ghosts lived in it. Tell me, does it make it scarier because it looks "real"? Or, be honest now, do you leave the theater not feeling a little silly? Silly because you were all in the theater pretending pretty hard that it was real? Like, do you remember that "TV experiment" on Discovery or the History Channel or something called The Colony, about a group of "survivors" living in a "post-apocalyptic" world? And sometimes they'd have to pretend to be fending off marauders and one time they even "captured" one for "interrogation" and this one guy was so into it that he sort of obliquely suggested killing the man? But of course he didn't mean it. And, duh, the camera crews and producers hovering on the sidelines certainly wouldn't let it even come close to that. But these people persisted with this ludicrous fantasy, acting as if there was credible danger lurking. It was make-believe! That show was more about what happens when you force a bunch of adults to just start spontaneously LARPing together than it was about any sort of survival skills. I imagine going to see Paranormal Activity, if you're not some dopey teen, is much the same way. Everyone pretends they're seeing found footage of evil devil-ghosts and then when they, when you, walk out of the theater, you sort of go "Heh heh... that was fun..." and then you quickly change the subject, grab your date's hand, and walk briskly down the street.
2) Jackass 3d — $21.6M
Last week I said I was ashamed of everyone for making this movie do well and I got BALL-PUNCHED by the commenters. Oh gosh some commenters were so angry. "Jackass is art!" "Spike Jonze!" "A highbrow exploration of the lowbrow!" "Monocles everywhere!" "Smell my farts!" Sentiments like that. So I'm terribly sorry that I said such harsh things about Jackass, which was pretty firmly in the "lame" category a few years ago, but has apparently now become the latest dumb thing that everyone thinks is "misunderstood" and "art" and just "brilliant." So, OK. Jackass is not dumb. You are. HOW'S THAT FOR A BALL-PUNCH? Oh, no, I'm kidding. Jackass is whatever it is. It's not some awful boil on society, but it's also not some high-minded tone-ode to the male psyche. So I'll stop saying it's the former if you please, please stop saying it's the latter. Deal?
3) Red — $15M
Now finally here's a movie whose success I can get behind. Everyone's worried about the Grayest Generation (click on that, it's pretty interesting), saying that oh no the whole world's gonna be old soon and what the fuck are we gonna do? Well, you know what we're gonna do? We're gonna watch those crazy old bastards shoot some guns. They are going to shoot so many guns and make so many mildly amusing one-liners that you will forget all about the fact that they have no one to support them and that the entirety of the economy has become top-heavy and unsolvable. Because guns! And wisecracks! That is why this movie is good. It promises us that. It reminds us of that. Plus, by the time all the old people (which is to say most of us) are done making jokes and firing submachine guns, the freezing saltwaters will have overtaken us already and the radioactive poison condors will be pecking out our eyes, finally getting revenge for what we did to their ancestors all those young years ago. So go see Red while you still can!
4) Hereafter — $12M
For a movie about dead people this movie sure is... dead! Ha ha! Adding almost 2,200 theaters in wide release this weekend, Clint Eastwood's afterlife melodrama wasn't quite what you'd call competition for Paranormal Activity's pre-afterlife docuhorror. I mean, anyone could have told you this on Friday. "Hey, want to go down to the multiplex?" "Sure thing, friend. What are our viewing selections?" "We can select from Paranormal Activity 2, about crazy camera ghosts, which is a real creature-feature. Or we can see the actors Richard Kind and Jay Mohr be serious for a some long time." (This conversation happened in Denmark.) I mean, except for the die-hard Richard Kind fans among us (you know who you are), pretty much everyone's going to go for the first option. Spin City was a long time ago. A long, long time ago.
5) The Social Network — $7.3M
I finally saw this movie last week, and man oh man! It really is so good, isn't it? A couple things about it. One, Andrew Garfield. Hachi machi. I saw him in Never Let Me Go and... nothin'. But in this picture? Maybe it was the black wardrobe (that suit at the end!) or how martyred his character was, but sheesh. Two, did anyone else leave the theater feeling kind of miserable about yourself? I mean, glad that you weren't a rattish asshole nerd, but miserable that you also weren't some amazing visionary with hardwired ambition on the grandest scale? Walking out of the theater I thought to myself, "Hm. I feel pretty accomplished making it to work by 9:30. This kid created an entire new universe." It feels a bit inferior! I know it's all relative, and that success is in the eye of the beholder (that's what they say, right?) and that, really, for me getting to work at a reasonable adult time is an achievement of the highest order, but still. The movie stung a little bit for that reason. But then at least there was Andrew Garfield, our new Spider-Man, swooping in to rescue us all.