A few days ago, I came across 1941 playing on TV. Arguably Spielberg’s worst movie, it’s frenetic, unfocused, and slapdash. There’s barely a plot and the movie is little more than a Three Stooges wrapped around The Battle of Los Angeles. It also has all the energy and vitality that Spielberg traded away when he began churning out tedious Oscar bait with an emphasis on social relevance and his own ignorance.
Who really needed another West Side Story? Short answer, no one. It’s been quite a while since Spielberg could manage to pull off crowd-pleasing and entertaining fare. And Woke Side Story doesn’t even try. If you’re going to make a musical, bringing Tony Kushner, whose horrid partnership with Spielberg began with the anti-Israel propaganda flick Munich, was like inviting Noam Chomsky to remake Singing in the Rain.
Audiences responded accordingly.
“West Side Story” had little to sing about this weekend.
20th Century Studios’ remake of the 1961 classic musical brought in an estimated $10.5 million for its opening in North America this weekend.
This total was below expectations, which projected the film to make closer to $15 million in its debut weekend.
$15 million turned out to be the worldwide take. Not good.
And that’s against an estimated $100 million budget.
Going woke and going broke doesn’t always hold up, but joyless wokeness is a hard sell. And, like every contemporary effort by Spielberg to try to actually entertain audiences, Woke Side Story is mechanical and lifeless, but also comes with an added dose of scolding anyway.