Here’s how you know you’ve been devoting too much energy to second-guessing the movie business: Your TV is on. An anchorman comes on to report that vicious storms are cutting a deadly swath across large portions of the U.S. And your very first thought is how unfair it’s going to be if this freak catastrophe depresses the opening-weekend numbers for Iron Man.

As you may have inferred, this happened to us only recently. And as with so many other things in our life, we took it as God telling us that the only way left for us to please Him would be to lie down on our kitchen floor, stick a screwdriver in our ear and turn. But we were also moved to ponder the future of entertainment journalism. Now that honest-to-goodness criticism is going the way of the horse and buggy, the void is being filled by features that focus on competitive economics at the expense of artistic merit – all in the name of “telling it like it is.” Where, we wonder, is the trend leading? How emblematic is it of the same professional cynicism that has reduced America’s political coverage to handicapping a horse race? At what point does the acknowledgment of reality become acceptance of it – or, worse yet, an endorsement?

These are questions for which there are no easy answers. (At least, not at our pay rate. Oh, snap!) But we’ll try to keep them in mind as the summer horse race heats up … and as that screwdriver keeps singing out, sword-like, from the utility drawer.


Opening Friday, May 16

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Well, I guess we all know what Rod and Todd Flanders will be doing this weekend. The first Narnia flick earned a king’s ransom at the box office, largely by positioning itself as a Christly alternative to the spiritually impure Harry Potter strain of fantasy. Yet others among us found The Lion, the Witch, and Their Fabulous New Wardrobe to be almost instantly forgettable, with only its swank CGI lion sticking in the mind’s eye. If the sequel is a hit of equal or greater magnitude, it’ll be a sign that the marketplace is now dominated by folks who would prefer to see popular entertainment exorcised of its pagan content. As for the rest of us … well, there’s always that new Grand Theft Auto to play around with. (Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media; PG)

Then She Found Me An unlikely ally in the war on mainstream inappropriateness: Helen Hunt, who was on Letterman a few weeks back crowing about how she’s shielded her kid from exposure to the most basic building blocks of pop culture. Way to totally alienate a defenseless tyke from its peer group, Helen! Maybe she can pay the child’s inevitable psychiatric bills with the proceeds from this literary adaptation, which shows a middle-aged woman confronting the issues of pregnancy and divorce at the same moment she’s reconnecting with her birth mother – Bette Midler. (ThinkFilm; R)

Son of Rambow In this season’s hoped-for breakout Britcom, a group of ’80s kids attempt to shoot an amateur film in tribute to the Stallone actioner they adore. Back in the day, we tried to do the same thing with The Swinging Cheerleaders … which didn’t exactly wow them down at the 4-H Club. (Paramount Vantage; PG-13)


Available Tuesday, May 20

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead This one was so shockingly inept that we could only assume zombie-meister Romero had suffered serious cranial trauma shortly after completing his previous picture. Save your money for the original Night of the Living Dead, which has been out forever in el cheapo public-domain versions but is re-emerging the same day in a remastered, 40th-anniversary edition that contains all sorts of flesh-eating bells and whistles. (The Weinstein Company)

Finishing the Game With a nod to the Ed Wood school of constructive auteurism, this comedy re-creates the process by which more than 30 minutes of Bruce Lee footage was fleshed out into the full-length feature Game of Death six years after the star’s untimely demise. What’s next, Fun and Games on the Set of “The Crow”? (Genius Products)


Available Tuesday, May 20

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films Must … hang … on. Only … one … more … week … and … it’ll … all … be … over. (Del Rey)


Available Friday, May 15

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian How nice to know the Flanders kids will have something to do next weekend, too. But we’re still sticking with Grand Theft Auto. (Disney Interactive Studios)


Available Tuesday, May 20

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Must … reach … screwdriver. (Concord)

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