Here Come The Depression 2.0 Movies

Look for evil businessmen, dancing little kids (hmmm, that explains the obsession over “High School Musical 2”), and, you guessed it, more talking dogs.

NYT: “In bad times especially, people do not want to see on the screen what they’re living through,” said Nicole Clemens, a longtime agent who runs International Creative Management’s motion picture literary department.

Many people in the movie business hopped on the escapism bandwagon two weekends ago when the Walt Disney Studios picture about talking dogs, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” trampled two of the industry’s biggest stars…

Ms. Clemens said that she saw one exception to the warning against using too many business villains: the revenge picture. “When people feel powerless in their own lives they want to see movies where protagonists are taking back the power,” she said. “But I still see no new trend for big business to be some new type of villain. It’s been a villain for a long time.”

Cue the daffy rich and the loveable hobos:

Movie historians note that the Great Depression led to a flood of carefree pictures. Shirley Temple tried to tap dance the nation’s troubles away. The 1930s featured gangster films, lavish musicals (“The Wizard of Oz”) and screwball comedies in which the rich were portrayed as loveable fools.

Jeanine Basinger, chairwoman of the film studies department at Wesleyan University, said that studios had the best luck dealing with economic issues when they did so with subtlety. For instance, “It Happened One Night,” the 1934 Frank Capra movie about a spoiled heiress running away from her family, is a romantic comedy that hints at the social turmoil of the Great Depression: a wandering thief desperate for money; a passing train populated with hobos. “Subtlety has always been the key,” she said.

“Let’s look on the bright side,” said Bruce Berman, chairman and chief executive of Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment. “Bad times have spawned some really great movies in the past.”

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