Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss films with your fellow commenters. Want to make a recommendation? Looking for recommendations? Want to share your opinions of movies, both new and classic?
Today’s bonus prompt: what is your favorite film of 2002?
A few weeks ago, the Blank Check podcast made an argument that 2002 was when one movie singlehandedly changed Hollywood. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man hit theaters and singlehandedly broke the single day box office record. Unlike its superhero predecessors, the movie was unashamed of its comic book roots. There was no pretensions about being the American myth. No attempt to hop onto cool trends. It was a throwback to old Hollywood romances and 60’s comic books at the same time. By the end of the decade, movies featuring Marvel characters were set to dominate theaters.
Spider-Man was also the stand-out non-sequel at the top of the box office. Audiences in 2002 flocked to see a bunch of Number Twos: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Blade II, Stuart Little 2, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, The Santa Clause 2, and Men in Black II. The movie franchise era was in full swing.
Spies were in a bit of a shake-up too. Matt Damon stunned audiences as Jason Bourne in the Bourne Identity. The gritty realism was a sharp contrast to the other two spy films of the day. Die Another Day to James Bond to its silliest extremes with invisible cars, para-surfing, and Asian villains disguised as White men. XXX, on the other hand, attempted to take James Bond to the X-treme levels of the early 2000’s with crazy stunts and a Vin Diesel attitude. Bourne would win that day, with James Bond eventually pivoting toward that franchise’s gritty style. It’s telling, though, that all three movies have had recent film entries, proving that old spies just don’t die.
I’d also like to argue that all three styles exist today. Bourne became Bond. Die Another Day‘s campiness became the Fast and Furious franchise and Kingsmen. XXX‘s extreme stunts became Mission: Impossible. Everyone wins!
2002 was also a great year for horror. Gore Verbinski would lead the charge in adapting Japanese horror films for Western audiences as Samara became the new face of horror in The Ring. The Hollywood version would overtake the original as the definitive version… even outgrossing what is now known as Ringu in Japan. Japan itself would churn out haunting new classics with Ju-On: The Grudge and Dark Water (based on a story by the same author of The Ring.)
Our old familiar stalwarts would be hanging around, albeit with a new twist. Jason Voorheis would take his murdering to space in Jason X (not to be confused with Friday After Next, also in 2002). Michael Myers would be going through one of his parallel universe storylines with Halloween: Resurrection. It was a post-Scream world, and our slashers had to be taken with a grain of irony.
Paul W. S. Anderson kicked off his long-running couples’ project with the Resident Evil film franchise. Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later would arrive right at the beginning of the 2000’s zombie movie trend. Bruce Campbell, meanwhile, turns in one of his most somber performances as Elvis Presley in Bubba Ho-Tep.
Grab your bottle of Windex: 2002 was a year when people still went to theaters to watch comedies. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a sleeper hit, grossing $241 million to become the highest grossing comedy of all time. (It was only beaten in 2016 by animated film Sing.) Jackass went from being an MTV show to becoming a surprisingly well reviewed movie franchise. About A Boy might be a little bit too unconcerned that baby Nicholas Hoult is hanging around grown man Hugh Grant a lot. Adam Sandler remained a reliable draw with Mr. Deeds, his reliabl silly comedy … and then later that year silenced all the haters about Sandler being a one-note hack with his more dramatic turn in Punch Drunk Love.
Fellow SNL alum and Sandler collaborator Rob Schneider got to look all bewildered as he became The Hot Chick. Other fellow SNL alum, Mike Meyers, would close out his Austin Powers trilogy with Goldmember. And fellow SNL alum and Wayne’s World alum, Dana Carvey, would be turtle enough for the turtle club in The Master of Disguise.
Look, it was the year after 9/11. We wanted to laugh again. And if that meant going to the theaters to watch a Josh Harnett boner comedy (40 Days and 40 Nights) then so be it!
Disney took a swing and a miss with one of my favorite obscure animated movies in their library, Treasure Planet. Fortunately for Disney, this was also the year of Lilo & Stitch.
A musical won the Academy Award for Best Picture (Chicago). Stephen Spielberg may have tapped into post-9/11 government paranoia about the government tapping your lines with Minority Report. (It is kinda weird how chill we have gotten about targeted ads.) That same year, he also directed a bonafide crowd-pleaser with Catch Me If You Can.
Eminem turned in a surprisingly soulful performance with 8 Mile. Nic Cage got to go ham in a dual role with the very weird Adaptation. James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal are involved in a pretty screwed up relationship in Secretary. And Drumline proved that an all-drum marching band can be pretty dang awesome.
Shame on you all for sleeping on Drumline. Shame on you all.