You're invited to a beautiful resort. You'll later be boarding one
of the largest and most lavish sea-going vessels around. Along with
2,000 other guests, you'll enjoy food, symphonic music and an awesome
fireworks display. Oh, and you'll also be watching a movie. Not just any
movie: the most expensive one - dollars 140 million - ever made by one
studio. (The cost of Titanic was split between Paramount and Fox).
It's the premiere of Pearl Harbor, and like past Jerry Bruckheimer -
king of Hollywood blockbuster popcorn flicks - extravaganzas, it's
large, loud, exciting and over the top. Nothing succeeds like
"It was an amazing party, really, one of the most exciting I've been
to," one of my many (is seven considered many? I don't know) press
contacts reported to me afterwards. "It will be really hard to top this
one." (Alas, I was unable to attend; had a prior commitment on another
continent, wouldn't you know it?)
"But how was the film?" I asked.
"Oh. It was pretty good, I guess. Ben Affleck can't really carry a
movie. But that party, man ..."
There is something a bit unsettling about a premiere outshining the
leading man. A premiere should be good, but not so good that it leaves a
more sustained impression than the film. Nonetheless, Pearl Harbor has
withstood a raging sea of hype and publicity since before it even began
Early press reports buzzed about production problems and the budget. It
was journalists, not the Japanese, firing away this time at Pearl
There have been some who say the love triangle of the film trivializes
the tragic events that occurred on December 7, 1941. The same has been
said of that lavish premiere, which also included F-15 fighter jets, a
Black Hawk helicopter, Navy SEALs, a 100-foot screen, paratroopers, and
an aircraft carrier - bringing the cost of the gig to a reported dollars
5 million. And counting. Some of the guests may have made off with
It matters not. This movie is going to make oodles of money, and
whatever tastelessness is involved in the storytelling or the premiere
will sink below the surface like the USS Arizona. That remark in itself
is tasteless. You want taste, go to the concession stand.
Summer is the time when Hollywood is at its most Hollywood, like America
is at its most American, invading the cinema, the mall, the amusement
park, the beach, and Europe in frightening hordes, loud and tackily
dressed and just not giving a damn. "I'm an overworked, overstressed
American. I have only two weeks of vacation and you'd better not get in
That's what the summer movie is all about. Pearl Harbor. No way this is
going to bomb.