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Kosher Cinema: June Movie Picks For JDaters®

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Welcome to June, JDaters®! And though the summer wedding season has begun, don’t feel too bad if you’re still looking for a date to your friend’s nuptial – there are plenty of JDaters out there for you to meet!

Now that summer’s only a few weeks away, the blockbusters are rolling out in force. Last month saw the release of major tent-pole movies like Star Trek: Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, and The Hangover Part III – a trio of sequels to start off a summer chock full of them! Depending on your outlook, that might thrill you, or greatly depress you.

The Chosen Feature

This month I’m giving a shout-out to a much older film, but one that’s still very worthy of being seen.  The Great Dictator is one of Charlie Chaplin’s masterpieces, a film that follows a poor Jewish barber who bears more than a passing resemblance to Adenoid Hynkel (an Adolph Hitler stand-in), and is mistaken for the famed dictator, and even trades places with him. A daring condemnation of fascism, the film was released at a time when many Americans were still on the fence about Nazi Germany in 1940. The final solution had not yet been enacted, and many Americans sought to remain out of the war. When Chaplin was making the film, it was going to be banned in his native England, due to their truce with Germany, but by the time it came out, England was at war, and it became one of the most popular films of the year.

The JScale

The Internship – 2/5 Stars of David

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star in this comedy about two middle-aged guys who apply for internships at Google due to the bad economy and must compete against 20-somethings for the coveted high paying jobs at Google. The film’s Hebrew Helmer is Shawn Levy, whose specialty is making mediocre comedies that rake in the dough. He’s the guy behind films like Big Fat Liar, Cheaper By the Dozen, Night at the Museum, and Real Steel. Vince Vaughn co-wrote the screenplay with Jared Stern.

The Purge – 0.5/5 Stars of David

Perhaps you’ve walked around town lately (that’s a joke if you live in LA and a certainty if you live in NY) and seen posters warning you about The Purge. Well, that’s this movie, an Ethan Hawke vehicle… Wait a second, there are still Ethan Hawke vehicles? But I digress. This is an Ethan Hawke vehicle about a future in which crime and unemployment are low, but for purposes of a plot that makes no sense, the US Government allows people to run rampant one night a year and murder or rape whoever they’d like. It’s like a pogrom where everyone’s a Jew. There are, however, pretty much no Jews involved in this movie, except for producer Michael Bay.

This is the End – 5/5 Stars of David

Mashiach must be coming, because this end-of-the-world comedy may be the Jewiest movie of 2013. This is the End is written and directed by the Hebrew-Heavyweight team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and co-stars a cavalcade of Jews, including Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jason Segal, and David Krumholtz. Now, whether the film will be any good is a whole different story, since most of Rogen’s recent fare has been hit or miss… at best. If you watched The Watch, you’d likely agree.

Man of Steel – 2.5/5 Stars of David

Zack Snyder, one of the most polarizing directors in Hollywood today, brings Superman back to the screen in this star-studded reboot of the franchise after the ultimately disappointing Superman Returns in 2006. The film is written by Jewish screenwriter, and superhero film vet, David S. Goyer, and co-stars Richard Schiff and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer in supporting roles. Superman was also created by two Jews from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Samson, the biblical hero, was among one of the many influences in the creation and evolution of the character.

Monsters University – 2/5 Stars of David

This prequel to Monsters Inc., the hit Pixar film from over a decade ago, is seeking to become the second successful Pixar film sequel. While Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 were wildly popular, and very well received, Cars 2 was much less so, becoming the first film in Pixar history to get a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Monsters University follows Mike and Sully as they form the friendship that’s the backbone of the original film. Monsters University’s Jew Crew includes screenwriter Daniel Gerson, as well as actors Billy Crystal and Frank Oz.

World War Z – 1/5 Stars of David

World War Z carries a disturbingly-high four screenwriting credits, and drags with it the bad omen of numerous delays and re-shoots. No one is quite sure what to expect from this adaptation of the book by Max Brooks (son of the legendary Mel). Aside from Brooks, there are almost no Jews involved in the movie, though some of the action takes place in Israel and the Palestinian territories. When I saw the preview for the film before a movie with a friend who hadn’t read the book, she didn’t even realize it was a zombie movie. It could surprise and be good, but a film with his many delays, re-writes, and such a bold departure from the source material, is rarely anything but a mess.

The Heat – 0/5 Stars of David

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy team up in this action-comedy about two female cops who want to take down a Russian mobster. Why this film is set in Boston, a city not exactly known for its RUSSIAN mafia (though there is a small presence there), is beyond me. It will probably include a lot of jokes about Melissa McCarthy’s weight though. The film is Paul Feig’s follow-up to the wildly popular Bridesmaids. And though Feig’s name sounds Jewish, his dad converted to Christianity and he was raised Christian.

White House Down – 0/5 Stars of David

This action film from Roland Emmerich (which screenwriter James Vanderbilt in no way ripped off from Olympus Has Fallen), tells the story of a police officer who was rejected from the secret service, but is the only man who can protect the United States President when the White House is stormed by a paramilitary group. Let’s hope it’s better than Emmerich’s last three action movies, the comically bad, and downright stupid 2012, 10,000 BC, and The Day After Tomorrow.  At least it ends his obsession with making films with time references in the title. Perhaps they should have called it White House Down Today 2013 AD.

And that’s the lineup for June. Depending on how some of these Blockbusters turn out, it could be a very depressing time for moviegoers, or a fun start to the summer! Take a date to one of these movies and give us your take on the films in the comments section below!

Jonathan Maseng is a Los Angeles based screenwriter and journalist. He is a frequent contributor to the LA Jewish Journal, and his work has appeared in publications around the globe. His mother would like him to find a nice Jewish girl — he’s still looking.
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