Brendan Miniter, Wall Street Journal op-edster denounces the new movie “Jarhead” in a piece entitled:
“Disillusioned warriors bomb at the box office.
Great headline, except that, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com:
“Jarhead” enlisted $27.7 million at 2,411 locations, storming past industry expectations. Universal Pictures’ $72 million military drama was in a similar range as “Black Hawk Down’s” $28.6 million nationwide berth and was considerably stronger than “Three Kings” and “Courage Under Fire,” two pictures that also dealt with Operation Desert Storm. “Yippee!,” said Universal’s head of distribution, Nikki Rocco. “That’s my word. I think the entire industry had [the movie] in the high teens.”
That’s a solid $11,500 per-theatre opening weekend gross for a movie aimed at a literate audience. I guess, when you are a WSJ op-edster, you don’t have to know anything about the business aspects of what you’re opining about.
War movies have been getting more stomach-churning over the decades, but that hasn’t hurt recruiting. The more gore on the screen, the more boys want to prove they’re man enough to take it. Although Marines have been dying in Iraq at a disproportionate rate, the manliest of all the services still hit its enlistment quota for fiscal year 2005, while the more feminized Army has struggled.
Former Marine lance corporal Anthony Swofford writes in “Jarhead,” his somewhat embroidered Desert Storm memoir about his love-hate relationships with war and his fellow warriors, “Vietnam war films are all pro-war, not matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended.”
Indeed, when “Apocalypse Now” was finally released in 1979 after years of hype about how it would be the ultimate antiwar movie, I noticed that all the most macho ROTC guys at my college were humming Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Likewise, in this slow but often hilarious adaptation of Swofford’s book, a theatre full of Marines lustily sings along as Francis Ford Coppola’s helicopters rain down death from above. Young soldiers, Swofford notes, are excited by war movies “because the magic brutality of the films celebrates the terrible and despicable beauty of their fighting skills.”