Michael Bay, Adam Sandler and the Lowest Common Denominator

Remember when Happy Gilmore hit theatres? I don’t, only because I was five at the time and Sandler’s “progressive” sense of humour was a bit mature for me at the time. But, from what I understand, people left the cinema and didn’t hate on the SNL cast member’s latest comedic offering.

How times have changed. With Pixels being released this week, a surefire attempt at shepherding the massive video game fan demographic into theaters, movie review site RottenTomatoes has given fans another reason to duck out of another half-assed Bro Down session between Sandler and Paul Blart.

With only 16% of reviewers giving the flick a passing grade, not even the sharp tongue of Tyrion Lannister can protect little Billy Madison from the critics’ subjective wrath.

While Sandler wallows in the despair of his $340 million(?!) net worth, he’s not the only Hollywood icon who blends a complete lack of creative effort with astronomically high box-office returns.

Of course, I speak of the man whose latest victim is Entourage creator ‘Marky-Mark’ Wahlberg, Michael Bay. The former Funky Bunch frontman made a long-term deal with the Devil—err, Michael Bay and Paramount—for two more Transformers flicks. Okay, we all know he’ll be crying all the way to his inflated Swiss bank account, but I can’t help but shed a tear at the fact that Wahlberg won’t be making a watchable movie for years to come.

Sorry, Seth MacFarlane, another two hours spent with a drunken teddy bear from The Bronx doesn’t count.

And while I don’t necessarily consider the Transformers and Grown Ups films as art worthy of anyone’s attention, you have to respect the fact that tens of millions flock to the theaters every summer to see these steaming piles of roadkill-infused dog shit with a hint of vulture puke.

It doesn’t matter that I begged my friends to leave the theater with an hour left in the third Autobots vs Decepticons cinematic disaster. The fact is, I’m not the kind of moviegoer these films are made to lure. I like round, developed characters. Witty, believable plots. Lots, and lots of Emma Stone. I don’t need a metric f%ck ton of explosions and/or fart jokes for three hours while the Famous Players employee hooks me up to the butter and Coca-Cola IV while I wait for the “Coming Attractions” to start.

Sick, another Fast & Furious. “Hey, dude, I herd Dwayne Johnson was threatening to grow a neck if his contract demands weren’t met before filming started.”

The bottom line is ‘creative geniuses’ like Bay and Sandler have made careers out of catering to the lowest common denominator among film-going demographics. They don’t bother trying to satisfy the crowds that watch flicks through an analytical lens, because that takes work. Does the guy from Big Daddy look like someone who can handle that? He worked one day a week in that movie—there’s no way!

Nevertheless, you gotta give Sandler credit for his role in Funny People. Another one of his films panned by critics, it explored the cynical nature in which overpaid, semi-talented ‘actors’ like the man himself approach their work. The fake movies his character made, including Merman and Re-do, was basically Sandler’s way of telling the world that his next two decades of work would carry as much substance as a trip to Kim and Kanye’s for MidSouthWest(?)’s annual compass presentation.

You gotta admire that honesty.

As for Michael Bay, his work ethic can be summed up in one interaction he had with Ben Affleck, who once asked the famed director on the set of Armageddon: “Wouldn’t it make more sense just to train experienced astronauts how to drill instead of the other way around?” To which Bay responded “Shut the f%ck up.”

What I’ve learned from the careers of these two trailblazers in ‘splosions and selling out is to give the people what they want, and to stop that “thinking” bullshit. Who really needs core values like ‘artistic integrity’ and ‘love for the craft’ anyway? When Pixels beats Ant-Man for the number one spot at this weekend’s box-office, the only core value the studio heads will consider includes dollar signs.

Bring on Pixels 2: Facebook Attacks.

Let’s just hope the TransformersGrown Ups crossover isn’t overshadowed by artsy-fartsy crap like the fourth instalment in Peter Jackson’s oh-too-short Hobbit trilogy (Can someone finally invent a sarcasm font?).

(Submit equally witty and thought-provoking sign off here)

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