The “Jay Sherman Test” and 2014’s summer blockbuster movies

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Repeating a theme from the previous few summers, I thought I’d look at 2014’s summer movie slate, and see which ones pass Jay Sherman of “The Critic”‘s criteria of originality. Or at least whether it’s worth shelling out at the box office, versus waiting for home video. Jay’s criteria were:

  1. If it used to be a TV show, just don’t go.
  2. After Roman numeral II, give it a rest.
  3. If it’s a remake of a classic, rent the classic.

The actual “The Critic” scene is (at this writing) still available on YouTube.

And now, on to the actual list of movies. The films are taken from Box Office Mojo’s list of wide releases. Please note I’m considering the “summer” season as running from the beginning of May to the end of August, so I’m not counting April releases like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in these rankings. Not included below (per the “blockbuster” emphasis) are various smaller, art house/smaller-release films, though some have gotten publicity (“Boyhood,” etc.).

Pass

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Chef
  • Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
  • Moms’ Night Out
  • Neighbors
  • Million Dollar Arm
  • Blended
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West
  • Maleficent
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Jersey Boys
  • Think Like a Man Too
  • Tammy
  • Earth to Echo
  • Deliver Us From Evil
  • And So It Goes
  • The Fluffy Movie
  • Jupiter Ascending (moved to Feb. 6, 2015)
  • The Purge: Anarchy
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue
  • Hercules
  • Sex Tape
  • Get on Up
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • Into the Storm
  • Lucy
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: technically based on the comic and not a direct remake of the earlier films (a la the various superhero movies like “Man of Steel,” “Batman Begins,” etc.), so I think it passes.
  • As Above, So Below
  • The Giver
  • Let’s Be Cops
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  • If I Stay
  • When the Game Stands Tall
  • The November Man
  • Jane Got a Gun (moved to Feb. 20, 2015)
  • Jessabelle (moved to Nov. 7, 2014)
  • Underdogs (moved to Jan. 16, 2015)

Fail

  • Godzilla: remake of the original 1950s classic.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: while it doesn’t have a Roman numeral and is based on a comic book (which should be OK), “Days” is being presented as the third film in a series (after 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” and 2011’s “X-Men: First Class,” plus as a follow-up to 2013’s “The Wolverine,” per Wikipedia).
  • 22 Jump Street: based on the early 90s TV show.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: despite online criticism of this film series, it’s somehow managed to eke out a part four.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: a sequel to a film that’s a prequel/reboot of the original “Planet of the Apes” films.
  • Step Up All In: apparently it’s a part five…didn’t know this film series was that popular.
  • The Expendables 3
  • The Loft: a remake of a 2008 Dutch-language Belgian film called “Loft.” (release postponed indefinitely)

That makes 35 films out of 42, or 83%, that pass the test. While the “fail” ones will still draw a huge amount of box office attention, there’s more original fare coming to the theaters than it looks.

On the animation side, this summer is extremely light on animated fare. The only animated films are “Dragon 2,” which should do quite well, and “Underdogs” “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” “Rio 2” is out in mid-April, slightly outside the summer film range, but will be lingering in theaters through the early summer season.

Which films will succeed and fail when it’s all done? I’ll come back at the end of the summer to summarize the winners and losers.

(Updated 8/24/14)


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