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The Column

Being Green at the Box Office
7/13/03

I watched the Hulk this week. And as a lifelong New Yorker who has seen just about every disaster movie from King Kong to Independence Day, it's about time another city got its ass kicked.

I have nothing against San Francisco - I'm just tired of my city getting destroyed in so many different ways. I usually love watching movies that are shot in New York and spotting things I recognize. "Hey," I'll say. "That pizza place is two blocks from me!" It's not as much fun to say, "Hey - that pizza place was two blocks from me. Before the aliens took over. Now it's a Starbucks."

The Hulk was fun, though not in a monumental way. It was fun in the same way comic books are fun - a relatively simple plot, a clear difference between good and evil, and better acting if you say the lines in your head. Though unknown Eric Bana played a fairly convincing nerdy scientist, they could have found a better hulk than Jose Canseco.

During my 2000 stint as a Yankees employee, I got to know Canseco briefly, and the similarity between the two is uncanny. They're both known for pent-up aggression, the release of which leads to injuries and jail time. They both spent a significant portion of their careers in the Bay Area (wearing green), and they were both a great deal smaller until artificially enhanced by science. The main difference is that Canseco bulked up by choice. As a side note, am I the only one who thinks they cast Eric Bana because of his last name?

The movie stayed true to the comic book and the TV show in that when the Hulk changed, not all of his clothes ripped off. There is no better way to fight the baddies than in a three-foot pair of daisy dukes. How is it that he grows twice his size and the top half of his jeans grow with him? I could use a pair of those for Thanksgiving.

One positive about the Hulk's ever-expanding waistband is that he's ten feet tall and green, and it's good to have something covering him down there. Not even San Francisco is ready for THAT.

I don't want to give away the ending, because then you won't get to gloat when you figure it out for yourself ten minutes into the movie. And I won't comment on the plot, because I didn't see much of one. But I will ask all of you why the soldiers were so ready to fight this thing.

That's a common thread in disaster movies - American soldiers putting their country before their common sense. I've never been in the military, and I have great respect for those that serve. And if I was ever called to represent my country, I hope I would do so proudly - but only against other people. You could never convince me to attack a ten foot green thing in daisy dukes. But throughout the movie, soldiers do. What could possess someone to risk that kind of obvious bodily harm? Of course, these are the same people smart enough to continue shooting at something that swallows bullets.

"Shoot it! I swear, this time it'll work! Okay, this time! No? Maybe this time! Okay, now!"

However dumb the idea of a few tiny men in green shooting at one giant green man may be, the Hulk reinforced a few other things. One, people with mustaches are very stern. Two, no one in charge watches a movie before they distribute it (see if you can't find the GIGANTIC plot hole in the movie). And three, very few movies ever come remotely close to living up to their hype.

When I think of some of the best movies of the past ten years, I think of Office Space, Usual Suspects, and the Shawshank Redemption. Do you remember seeing a billion commercials for any of them? Do you even remember Office Space being in the theatre? These movies were not gigantic beefed up projects (see Hulk, metaphor for the). These were just good films - some with unknown actors and some with stars, but all with great writing. The Hulk, on the other hand, had no chance of being good - simply because we were told it was good from the beginning. The only recent movie I've seen that lived up to its hype was Star Wars Episode Two, and that's probably because Episode One was such a let down that anything would be cool in comparison.

If you want to make a successful movie, just make a quality film. With a few decent commercials and a lot of word of mouth, you might just be able to create a monster (see Canseco, metaphor for Jose).

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