HUH, LOOK AT THAT: This weekend, Cort and Fatboy (hey, that's me—with a little help from the Mercury) are hosting a big-screen, 35mm screening of 1996's The Rock, coincidentally timed with director Michael Bay's latest Transformers flick (our review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon can be found here). The Rock crowned producer Jerry Bruckheimer the king of the '90s. Joel Silver's shine had dulled, the 'roided-out charms of Sly and Arnold had begun to sag. But Bruckheimer was there, saving the summer with a sweaty blend of pyrotechnics, soap opera, frat comedy, and butt rock. He became an evolved Vince McMahon—the Buddha of Blowing Shit Up. Using Bruckheimer's own words, let us trace a path through that era.
• "I make movies based on gut." Bad Boys (1995)—If The Rock was the true birth of Bayhem, this film was its raucous pregnancy. Taking a script meant for Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz, Bruckheimer reworked it, recast it (kickstarting Will Smith's career in the process), and let Michael Bay loose on the thing. Gleeful, smirking destruction ensued.
• "I love entertaining people, and this is entertainment." Con Air (1997)—Bruckheimer tapped Diet Bay director Simon West to run this can't-lose proposition: Buscemi, Chappelle, Trejo, Rhames, and Malkovich as miscreant convicts trapped on a plane with a mulleted, jacked-up Nicolas Cage. Writer Scott Rosenberg lent it a Looney Tunes flavor with at least two quality one-liners per hit of violence.
• "Because you can't do anything halfway, you've got to go all the way, in anything you do." Armageddon (1998)—Another Michael Bay picture, Armageddon took The Rock's balance of action and drama (that film got a script polish by Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin!) and gave it a ridiculous boob job (this film was written by Jonathan Hensleigh and J.J. Abrams!). It's not just an asteroid... it's an asteroid the size of Texas! Spacewalking is for pussies... let's do sweet jumps in this kick-ass moon buggy!
• "I mean, if you put all of your eggs in one basket, boy, and that thing blows up, you've got a real problem." Pearl Harbor (2001)—Not to end on a downer, but everything about this self-indulgent, pandering attempt to turn Bay into James Cameron sank like so many CG battleships—including the relationship between Bay and Bruckheimer. The two haven't worked together since.
The Rock screens Friday, July 1, at the Bagdad Theater (3702 SE Hawthorne). Doors at 10 pm, show at 11 pm, $3, 21+.