Jul 6, 2020

Coming Distractions: This Summer’s Retooled Movie Menu

Here are some re-edited seasonal hits to complement your popcorn and bourbon

By Ed Goldman

Since shooting new movies was all-but-impossible during the lockdown, canny producers figured they could simply re-edit long-ago hits for this summer. Here are some coming distractions:

JOWLS (formerly, “Jaws”): An entire continent is terrorized by a largely orange creature whose suits, once made by Brioni, are now stitched together by Omar the Tentmaker. As ominous music plays, he lures idiots to public rallies to celebrate his greatness then has them devoured by Covid-9. Despite the efforts of California Governor Gavin Handsome (played by the late and missed Roy Schneider) and a nasal scientist named Dr. Anthony Fussy (played by the always on-time and annoyingly peppy Richard Dreyfuss), businesspeople demand that all commercial enterprises stay open, re-open or close then open them again to let out the West Nile mosquitoes. Trouble ensues.

NO-IRON-MAN (nee “Iron-Man”): Stay-at-home moms and dads are suddenly told they can return to their away-from-home workplaces the very next day and realize they haven’t worn anything with professional creases for months. Enter No-Iron-Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his gal pal, Polly Esther (the always-perky Gwyneth Paltrow) who fly across the country airdropping packages of Levi’s Synthetic 502 Sta-Prest® Chinos for men and women in major American cities—though, interestingly, not the Silicon Valley. “It’s already de rigueur for them to dress like stay-at-home slobs,” Polly says brightly, smearing her face with the actress’s own Goop Cleanser® (an obvious moment of product placement, which Paltrow demanded after seeing the mention of Levi’s Synthetic 502 Sta-Prest® Chinos a couple of sentences ago). When the airdropped apparel turns out not to be one-size-fits-all, trouble ensues—leading to another summer movie remake, CLOTHES ENCOUNTERS OF THE NERD KIND.

THE TALENTED MR. PICKLES (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”): Matt Damon now plays the owner of a fast-food franchise in Davis, California whose refusal to let his staff wear political T-shirts costs him not only his business but also a lifetime supply of tuna-salad sandwiches. Trouble ensues.  

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ABERRANTHOOD (adapted from the erstwhile summer smash movie and subsequent erstwhile TV series, “Parenthood,” which ran from 1990-1991 and then again from 2010-2015, proving the show-biz maxim, “If at first you don’t succeed, hire a younger cast”): This time, instead of the warm and family-embracing originals, moms and dads forced to shelter-at-home are depicted sitting in the safe-distancing office of a kind but terse family relations counselor (played by the brilliantly witty comic genius Gallagher) and reassess why they ever wanted children in the first place. Gallagher’s advice to all of his patients is to go home and smash watermelons on which they’ve drawn cartoons of their children. (Is there any question about this man being the comedian’s comedian?)

PILATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (“Pirates of the Caribbean”). Producers have taken the best chase sequences of the original film and its 19 sequels and turned them into a swashbuckling exercise video.      

TITANIC XXX (“Titanic”): Leonardo DiCaprio now saves himself from a frozen death at sea by finding a deceased polar bear at the bottom of the ocean and crawling into his stomach, very much as he’d later do in the Oscar-winning “The Revenant”(often mistakenly called “The Ruminant”). During the closing credits, singer Celine Dion (“My Heart Will Go On”) laments having gained 50 pounds during self-isolation. Her rendition of “My Pants Won’t Go On” is said to have moved several viewers—away from their TV sets, but still.

EX-MEN (“X-Men”): Erroneously billed before its unveiling on Netflix as “the first transgender big-screen musical,” this Marvel flick has now been reworked into a plaintive drama about who gets custody of the tights, boots and capes when superheroes divorce. Be sure to watch for the sneak preview of Hugh Jackman as a superhero car mechanic in THE VALVOLINE. Russell Crowe drops by Hugh’s garage because his car’s radiator seems sad. By the time he leaves, however, the car’s not much GLADIATOR, so Russell pelts Hugh with tuna-salad sandwiches. Trouble ensues.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).