Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
July 07, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Why summer blockbusters can disappoint

Wondering what that whiff you’re catching when you walk by movie theaters is? Yes, indeed, it’s the stink of this summer’s releases, which are taxing the nerves of even the most forgiving audiences.

To wit: This weekend, two friends drove to the theater to buy tickets to ”The Patriot.” Then they found out the movie was 2 hours and 40 minutes long, and — understandably, I think — decided that’s not how they wanted to spend the entirety of a lovely summer night. So they went back to the theater and exchanged the tickets for ”Me, Myself & Irene.” Then they heard that even if they psyched themselves up to laugh at stupid jokes, they probably wouldn’t be able to sustain more than a chuckle. So finally, they traded THOSE tickets in for ”The Perfect Storm” — the only other movie showing at the theater — but for all their efforts, they still returned home underwhelmed. ”I don’t get it,” one of them said. ”How can George Clooney be asked to say a line as ridiculous as, ‘I always get the fish’?”

I’m the first on board to say that the less thinking I have to do in the theater during the summer, the better. But compare this summer to last, and there aren’t even good BAD movies out there. Last year at this time, we were laughing our heads off at the ”South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” and singing ”Blame Canada” at the beach like idiots. Some of us even thought (admit it) that ”Big Daddy” had its winning moments. And let’s not even start longing for ”Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” or ”The Matrix.”

Still, it’s far too early to give up all hope, and studios may pull some bunnies out of their hats in the upcoming weeks. ”X-Men,” starring the most beautiful people in the world — Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, and Hugh Jackman — is positioned to be this summer’s ”Matrix,” with an enormous marketing push behind Fox’s sci-fi flick. And Eddie Murphy, playing the entire Klump clan in ”Nutty Professor II,” may just make us laugh as hard as Kenny, Cartman, and the whole ”South Park” pack put together. Finally, if ”Me, Myself & Irene ” didn’t go quite far enough for you in the raunch department, look for this weekend’s ”Scary Movie,” the Wayans brothers’ comedic ode to… well, scary movies. Hey — worst comes to worst, chill out on the beach for the rest of the season — there’s always the rerelease of ”This Is Spinal Tap” in September.

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