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For the second weekend in a row, “Madagascar 3” raked in more money than any other movie. I mention this for two different reasons: one, how our opinions of movies have changed and two, the lovely and talented Jada Pinkett Smith.
If last week in this space I made the declaration that I was old because of my feelings toward “Twilight,” this week I’m going to take it a step further with the declaration, “Back in my day.” Back in my day, every Monday morning came the USA Today and the first glimpse at the box office weekend and it merited about two inches on the left column. Later in the week, you could pick up the print edition of Variety and get the complete rundown of the top 60 movies or so and how they fared at the box office. Slowly, more and more sources picked up that information and you heard it everywhere from your local Crazy Ira and the Douche to your local Kent Brockman. (Or your DJ 3000 and your Perd Hapley if those are more your speed.) Now times have changed so much that both the print editions of Variety and USA Today face obsolescence. Box Office Mojo has all that data and all that box office information can be found starting Friday morning before the weekend even starts.
To me, just like the omnipresence of trailers and casting news that Noel Murray discusses in the A.V. Club, the importance of box office results often overshadow the quality of the film. I have no clue how “John Carter” was. Most all of the coverage (including the reviews) seemed to focus on the costs and the lack of return on the investment. Is there a correlation between cost and quality? (I could point to several examples in all four squares of that matrix, and maybe a regression would show some correlation, but my guess is no.) The business overshadows the art, and while making movies is a business, I don’t think making movies like a business can be a long-term effective strategy. If it were, Henry Ford would have created an assembly line of art.
I apologize, that digression is much less interesting that Jada. Here are her top five movies.
5. Princess Mononoke
I’m not a big fan of listing great movies by beautiful women where you can only hear their voice, but if you need a better alternative to “Madagascar 3,” “Princess Mononoke” or anything by Hayao Miyazaki is it.
I’m also not a big fan of the biopic. I don’t think this is a great one, but you get to see Jada. If you want a great Ali movie, try the documentary “When We Were Kings.”
3. Menace II Society
If I’m going to make qualifications in the previous two, I have to say I’m a bigger fan of “Boyz n the Hood.” But, those two movies are much closer in quality.
As is this often over-looked Spike Lee commentary on the business of television to Lee’s other great movies. A minstrel show that makes a lot of money using unknowns doesn’t sound like as crazy of an idea today.
Speaking of alternatives, why not check out this movie with Jada and Tom Cruise? Believe me, this has nothing to do with cost and all to do with some great acting and the enjoyment of seeing Cruise play against type.
Agree? Disagree? Which movies would make your Jada Pinkett Smith top five?