Fireworks weren't the only things exploding this weekend, as Michael Bay's latest disaster trundled into theaters and connected big-time. Meanwhile, two oldsters sputtered out and three youngsters fared just OK.
1) Transformers: Garbage Edition — $116M
Boom! Wham! Bang! Tits! The third installment in this aggressively terrible movie series basically made all the money this weekend, earning some $181 million domestically since its Wednesday opening and breaking records across the globe. Which, OK, fine, whatever. We can grumble all about What This Says About Us As A Culture or whatever, but why bother? I mean, would any of it be that surprising? We like dumb things and men stupidly rule the world and Shia LaBeouf is a spectacularly unlikable actor and Michael Bay should only ever direct ads for the Army or for megacorporations that are trying to seem relatable and human (you know, the kind of ad they parodied on The Office). These are facts of the world that, on a hazy-headed Tuesday morning, aren't really worth rehashing. Instead let's just all close our eyes and try to get the beer and smoke out of our heads and take advantage of all the vague and specific freedoms that have been granted to us. (Freedom to call out of work tired partway through a blog post? Is that one of the founding freedoms?)
2) Cars 2: More Cars — $32M
Slipping a disappointing 50% in its second week, Pixar's maligned sequel is on track to be one of the studio's least popular pictures. So don't expect a Cars 3 or anything like that. This also probably throws a wrench in the gears for DreamWorks' 'Cycs, about motorcycles. Actually no, it probably doesn't. DreamWorks has proven that they'll basically make any old animated piece of crap. As will most other non-Pixar animation huts. I mean, aren't we on like the ninth Ice Age movie at this point? I will say that How to Train Your Dragon, while not the Viking porn I was hoping for based on the title, was a very enjoyable and pretty little movie about nice things. But other than that? I do not approve, non-Pixars. I'm sorry to have to tell you that. Anyway, what are we even talking about here? Oh right. See? That's how forgettable Cars 2 really is.
3) Bad Teacher — $17.6M
So this movie is sort of a hit! It was cheap to make, only $20 million, and now it's grossed almost $65 million. Meaning, I'm pretty sure, that Phyllis Smith is now the biggest movie star of the summer. We were all sensing that it was going to happen, what with the recent big Vanity Fair cover and those pap shots of her leaving Hyde on the arm of Tim Tebow, but now it really has happened. She's arrived. Move over, Amber Heard or Abbie Cornish or Mia Wasikowski or whoever the fuck else, 'cause Phyllis Smith is here. Meanwhile, her costar, Cameron Diaz, remains insufferable.
4) Larry Crowne — $15.7
Yeesh. Well, OK, OK, before we get crazy here, let's acknowledge the fact that this movie only cost $30 million to make. So there's half the production budget right there. But, when you also consider that this movie features two American gods of Hollywood, it's a bit disappointing, yeah. To be fair, I think the market was a little saturated this weekend. I mean, obviously teenage boys were forced to choose between their two movie loves: noise and explosions and tits, and cheery romantic comedies about middle aged people falling gently in love. Those are the exact two types of movies teenage boys like, so they were forced to make a Sophie's choice with their allowance money this weekend. And for whatever reason, most of those boys chose Transformers. It's weird, I know. You see so many young men standing around basketball courts or outside the Wawa being like "Dude, did you watch Forget Paris on Encore last night? I fuckin' love Debra Winger, she's so human." You just see and hear that all the time. So you'd think they'd go with Larry Crowne. But the mind of a teenager is a murky, mercurial, fickle thing. Who knows why anything happens, really.
6) Monte Carlo — $8.75M
This haunting psychosexual drama did fairly well for an arthouse film on a big loud holiday weekend, so that's something to be glad about. Katie Cassidy, who's often referred to as the next Charlotte Rampling (if Charlotte Rampling was a pile of Zagnut bars that somehow taught itself to talk), turned in a much raved-about performance, which surely got the intellectual artsy crowd eager to see the movie. And of course the fragile yet nuanced work of Selena Gomez, playing a young woman navigating a Lynchian world of dual identity while dreamily passing through Europe, enticed many cinephiles. Leighton Meester's usual choppy, Mamet-like line readings have earned her no shortage of fans, so they clearly came out en masse. All told, this was something of an indie perfect storm, the ideal blend of New Wave throwback and contemporary sensibilities that will be discussed in the pages of Cahiers du Cinéma for years to come.