saw two movies the last two days that i thought were great: booksmart and aladdin
booksmart is olivia wilde’s directorial debut and it’s perfect
aladdin is disney trying to remake the unremakable and like magic they pulled it off
whats a little bit sad is booksmart is a little bit better than aladdin but in three weeks it’ll probably be pulled from theaters because of everything else coming down the pipeline
we saw aladdin tonight in a sold out imax theater in burbank and people were clapping and cheering and so was i and when i got home i saw that critics only gave it 57% on rotten tomatoes, while audiences gave it a 94.
i never want to be that disconnected from my audience. i never want to be so hung up on minor stumbles when what you just accomplished was unasked-for, impossible and sacrilege
and yet it entertained families of all ages.
maybe the problem is many of these critics dont see the movies on their own dime in hometown theaters sitting next to the butcher the baker and the cbd maker. sold out 930pm showing on a tuesday. will smith the only name you know on the poster? that right there is something.
it was bollywood it was hollywood and i probably saw more brown faces the a screen than ever in my life that didnt take place is wakanda. and it was beautiful.
when i was a kid i was sent to this summer camp in washington dc that really had an affect on my life. when we werent playing sports we were studying the bible or riding fast through the woods in a station wagon with its roof cut off at high speeds by a jesuit priest driver.
but when we were playing sports it was all trash talk. id never experienced anything like that in the suburbs of illinois. the play by play was a bombardment of insults darted at any and all weakness they could find.
yo suburbs with the ball. white boy point guard. whattya gonna do. WHITE. BOY. you look scared as shit.
we were 10.
these black kids my age from baltimore could do anything with the ball. comfortable in the tiny gym so small that the end walls were barely an inch past the baseline. they had a rule that if you dribbled, planted your foot on the wall (technically out of bounds). lifted off and slammed it home, then it counted.
their version of dunking.
i could barely touch the net no matter how you got me up there and half these kids were basically dunking. on you.
8 hours every day in the muggy, summer heat of DC with these trash talking, aggressive, athletic all stars and you could either completely collapse emotionally, like i saw a bunch of kids do, or level up.
i began first with language. i knew i wasn’t going to be able to speak how they did without looking like an absolute faker, so i insulted their grammar. constantly. even though i loved it.
and despite being years behind them on the basketball court, we matched up well in soccer, baseball, tennis and fencing. imagine driving by and seeing 60 black kids fencing in a field. all of us dissing each other behind those masks, seconds away from actually fighting.
but one thing we all had respect for was attempting the impossible.
whether it be fighting the biggest, meanest dudes at the end of the day – the brothers made every kid who started a fight during the day, box their foe at the end of the day, in a giant circle that we all made in the gym before the st anthony prayer.
or making an incredible play on the field,
or making an amazing move on someone before scoring.
even if you hated the kid and he was on the other team, if he pulled off something remarkable, you said something like damn g. or ok, money. i dont remember making any friends there. it was us versus everyone all day. but we respected each other.
once they put us in a van and drove to this public swimming pool. half the kids didnt know how to swim at the beginning of summer, but everyone could swim by the end of it, in part because of all the new insults some of the boys had to endure. a few lanes were set aside just for races. i remember zero parental supervision. just the loudest boy saying something like, yo, get the fuck outta these two lanes. i’m up, who wanna race me for a Now Or Later in the cantina?
the camp had a snack bar called the cantina, but you had to pay, and a lot of these kids were poor so they were always trying to bet with those of us whose parents had put money in our accounts. it was never a good idea to try to avoid a reasonable wager.
there were hold your breath underwater competitions, diving contests and cannonball contests. everything was a game. everyone needed to win. miracles happened. just like in life.
but just like on the field, in the pool if someone did something incredible, even if you hated them, like this fat guy who intentionally did a bellyflop off the high dive, you had to give him props. and we did. and we hated them a little less.
aladdin pulled off the impossible on the biggest stage and the critics need to say so.
and yr girl olivia wilde made an instant classic high school comedy
which is also impossible
and for that she deserves love.