The Summer: No Bummer

Thank God for big expensive favors

3. There's DC, and then there's D.C. Contrary to almost everything that has thus far been said—to say nothing of conventional movie wisdom—summer movies needn't only be about fun and games. Of course, it could be argued that Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was itself a kind of sideshow entertainment, but there's no denying that the picture's success ($115 million and counting) has opened the floodgates to a wash of other—and, dare I say, better—socially conscious documentaries (The Corporation and Control Room chief among them) that might otherwise have had a difficult time securing bookings. Beyond which, Fahrenheit 9/11 may have had another residual effect: Hollywood itself seems to be catching on to the idea that politics and popcorn do not necessarily add up to box-office poison. Ergo, Jonathan Demme's spirited makeover of The Manchurian Candidate gets called up from the minor leagues of autumn to bat with the boys of summer and does respectable business with the post-pubescent crowd.

Of course, to ask whether this summer represents a trend or merely an anomaly is to pose a riddle that has no answer—at least for the time being. But as with puppies and small children, it seems to me almost impossible to praise Hollywood too much when it does something right, let alone a few things right in a row. So make of this what you will—and now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to catch Harry Potterone last time on the big screen before it dons its celluloid invisibility cape and disappears for good.

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