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Man About Town: A few heroic leaps at an 'Avengers' matinee

Crying babies, knobby-kneed ladies, air-bag lips and endless trailers at the theater.

May 12, 2012|Chris Erskine
  • 'The Avengers' features multiple superheros and has costly effects-laden sequences.
'The Avengers' features multiple superheros and has costly… (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel )

"The Avengers," as you may have heard, is the biggest thing to happen to America since World War II but, you know, louder and more troubling. At the end of the matinee I witnessed, audience members actually cheered, believing what they'd just seen was some sort of documentary. Manhattan had been saved, which is almost always a cause for celebration, though I met this one New Yorker the other day at the rent-a-car place: swaggery young Italian guy, you know the type.

The New Yorker said he didn't like L.A. because "ders nuttin' to do hair," which translates roughly into "there is nothing to do here."

Now, you can bag on L.A. all you want, but to claim ders nuttin' to do hair is 10 flavors of ridiculous. But, yes, in the end I suppose New York is worth saving. The architecture is pretty nice. And they serve a pretty good wiener.

Anyway, "The Avengers" is basically a remake of "The Magnificent Seven," which in turn is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's"Seven Samurai," which might be a remake of something else, I'm not sure. It's tough to trace the lineage of major movies. They are as inbred as hillbillies. The last original movie was "The Jazz Singer." Since then, it has been made 11,444 times.

In "The Avengers," all these superheroes rally to save the planet after aliens snatch a promising energy source.

Wars were once fought over individual freedom or territorial imperative. Now they're fought over potential sources for firing up your iPad.

I don't know where the anti-nuke people stand on this; the movie didn't really deal with that. What it did get into was the relentless egotism of superheroes, bordering on an almost existential nihilism. Which reminded me a lot of the Lakers in the way they seek meaning out of every little experience. So, in a sense, this movie is also a remake of a Lakers playoff game.

For me, the best part of the movie were the trailers. Sasha Baron Cohen has a very funny flick due out soon. There are a couple of other movies coming out this summer loud enough to rattle your cortex against its cage, so I suspect they will be hugely successful as well.

Once "The Avengers" finally starts, it is almost half an hour later, and by then I have to hit the restroom. Don't you wish there were a phone app that would help you re-find your seat in a dark theater?

Till then, I would like to apologize to the lady whose lap I slid into. Thought I'd just sat funny on my wallet. Turns out it was her knobby knee. Sorry. But thanks for the popcorn. And the bloody nose.

While I'm at it, I'd like to apologize to the screaming 2-year-old three seats over. I hope I didn't interfere with your enjoyment of the movie, sweetie.

Tell me, does the 1st Amendment give a guy the right to holler "CRYING 2-YEAR-OLD!!!" in a crowded movie theater, at which point everyone flees?

I think it does.

Up on the screen, meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson is playing some sort of superheroine/female empowerment figure whose name escapes me. I just kept looking at her air-bag lips, wondering if they had been CGI-enhanced.

By the way, this whole female empowerment thing is so 1995 already. Every time you turn on the radio, Kelly Clarkson is cranking out yet another female empowerment ballad. How much empowerment do you women need? I'll tell you who needs empowerment: me.

And Robert Downey Jr.

In the movie, Downey sends shivers through the audience when he pours himself a glass of happy juice. Forget New York, will someone save Downey? Magnificent actor, but he's done so much Iron Man that his soul is in danger of rusting when it rains. Plus, I don't approve of happy juice in movies. Unless I sneak it in myself.

Except for those quibbles, I highly recommend "The Avengers." The audience left yappy and satisfied, knowing it had shared a huge communal experience, where alien creatures are repelled and strange men sit in nice ladies' laps.

Same thing? Yeah maybe.

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