Our movie guy says, ‘Write me maybe’

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People ask me questions about movies all the time. Most of those questions are pretty boring. So, in America’s fourth favorite Coeur d’Alene Press entertainment section feature, I make up the questions, and hopefully it turns into a column.

Where’s your full “Dark Phoenix” review? Why don’t you do even the basic job of a critic and review the previous week’s big release? — John Johnson, Spirit Lake.

As always, these totally made-up questions are needlessly aggressive and mean-spirited. Sorry, John, but I couldn’t get myself to the theater to see “Dark Phoenix” after it crashed and burned with both critics and audiences last weekend. Even as a fan of the “X-Men” franchise, I already saw a poorly executed movie about the Phoenix Saga back in 2006 (“X-Men: The Last Stand”). I also couldn’t stand (tee-hee) the last “X-Men” movie, “Apocalypse,” in 2016.

“Dark Phoenix” opened to less than $33 million last weekend, which is by far the worst opening for the franchise dating back to 2000. It’s even more embarrassing if you factor in ticket inflation. As part of its acquisition of Fox, Disney now owns the X-Men characters, which means Wolverine and Magneto will eventually join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It will be a little while, as Disney will surely want audiences to forget how the current iteration ended before rebooting everything. Probably for the best.

Hollywood doesn’t make good romantic comedies anymore. It’s people like you, with your constant praise of superhero movies, that has suffocated the genre out of existence. — Robert Robertrobertson, Chicago.

I didn’t see a question in there, Robert, but thanks for checking out CdaPress.com all the way from Chi-town. See my ambivalence about “Dark Phoenix” above and get off my case. Anyway, an excellent romantic comedy called “Long Shot” starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen opened the weekend after “Avengers: Endgame,” and almost nobody saw it. I saw it, guy. Paid money out of my own pocket, then gave it a positive review in this very paper. Where were you, Robert? Do they have movie theaters in Chicago, ROBERT?!

You can also get a rom-com fix from Netflix this month in the form of “Always Be My Maybe.” It’s a charming and funny movie directed by Nahnatchka Khan, the creator and producer of the underrated ABC series “Fresh Off the Boat.” It stars Randall Park (the dad on FOTB — that’s what the fans call it) and comedian Ali Wong as childhood friends who don’t see each other for years after an awkward hookup. Park and Wong are co-writers on the movie, and fans of Wong’s breakout stand-up specials will especially recognize her influence.

The two stars are paired nicely, and the movie provides those warm rom-com beats within a more modern context. “Always Be My Maybe” also benefits from a hilarious extended cameo from a certain A-list action star. Don’t let a Google search ruin the surprise.

That all being said, Netflix has a bunch of other “original” rom-coms that are terrible, and the fact that something like “Always Be My Maybe” sits in the queue alongside that barrage of junk won’t help good romantic comedies make a triumphant return to theaters anytime soon. So there, Robert, don’t blame me. Blame Netflix.

Time to choose a side, Tyler. Are you pro-rat or anti-rat in the great Internet debate about Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed?” — Susan Susanna SueAnn Susannason, Post Falls.

Susan here is referring to what might be the stupidest thing related to movies in 2019. A few months ago somebody created a Kickstarter campaign to digitally remove the rat that scurries across a balcony in the last shot of 2006’s Oscar-winning “The Departed.” The campaign received a bunch of attention, because America.

It says so much about our culture when a random guy on the Internet thinks he can “fix” the work of arguably the world’s greatest living filmmaker. Anyway, I recently rewatched “The Departed,” and I can definitely say that … Good Lord, who cares?

“The Departed” remains a thrilling crime drama. It’s probably the most rewatchable movie in Scorsese’s filmography. I love his work, but it’s not like you can go back and rewatch those torture scenes in “Silence” when you’re feeling bored.

The rat at the end is maybe a little on-the-nose thematically, but it appears when the movie is essentially over, and I don’t remember anybody making a whiny case about it back in 2006. No, the only thing out of place in “The Departed” is Jack Nicholson, who skips around the movie making faces like The Joker while everyone else puts in an honest, reality-based effort (even Mark Wahlberg’s hilarious, profanity-laced rants are more nuanced).

I like Nicholson in general, but I’ve always thought “The Departed” would be an absolute masterpiece with a more serious portrayal of gangster Frank Costelllo at the center. Maybe Robert De Niro … but only if he’s actually trying.

• • •

Tyler Wilson can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com

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