The Hulk: Drive-Thru Quality for a Drive-In Movie
Dan Graney
6/19/2003 2:37:52 PM

A Jack In The Box taco has 170 calories, 9 grams of fat and, for you carb-conscious meat & cheese people, 190 grams of carbohydrates. I need to say this because "The Hulk" is the film equivalent of the Jack In The Box taco, or maybe the 2-for-99 special.

In other words, it's not really good, or good for you, but I still enjoyed it (even though I'd think twice later). The Hulk stars Eric "Chopper" Bana, Jennifer "Who-cares-she's-hot-and-oh-yeah-an-Oscar-winner" Connelly and Nick "Here-comes-my-crazy-speech" Nolte-- and it's a B-movie in the truest sense. Regardless of how much the movie wants to portray the struggle of uncontrollable internal rage, or how hard director Ang Lee wants to elevate the film to art, or how many millions of dollars were spent, The Hulk is an excuse for the special effects. It is a big, greasy, deliciously bad, deep-fried taco.

I never had a personal connection to the Hulk. And yes, I am proud to say that I was a real comic book geek. But the Hulk just didn't do it for me. Batman, Iron Man, Daredevil, the X-Men-- hell, even Black Bolt (who never spoke) and Green Arrow (who really didn't have much more than really good aim and a badass Van Dyke) interested me more than the Hulk.

I guess it's because I never really felt bad for the Hulk, or for Bruce Banner, because I really wanted Bruce Banner to be the Hulk. I didn't want to read The Somewhat Interesting Bruce Banner comic book, I certainly didn't want to watch "Bruce Banner" on TV (nothing against Bill Bixby). I simply wanted BIG GREEN DESTRUCTION!

The Hulk is a drive-in film in need of a drive-in. With drive-in movies, one never really had high hopes for the movie; you just wanted enough excitement to keep your attention. And when it dragged, it was no biggie because it allowed some time to grab something in the snack bar, go pee, or play a little hoochie-koochie in the backseat.

I miss the drive-ins. There's something innately enjoyable watching even the crappiest of movies, sitting under the stars, swatting the bugs away, while gobbling bad food. It's less about the movie and more about the experience. In that sense, I think the American drive-in was the greatest single achievement of modern theater, because the entire environment made up the show.

Think about leaving a modern theater these days, weaving your way through the auditorium and across a crowded parking lot. Now think about the roller coaster rush as you journeyed over those rolling hills of speaker poles as far as the eye could see, bobbing and weaving your way to the exit of the drive-in.

Good films, wonderful, well-crafted films, are great, and sight to behold. But when a movie is bad, well, it's kind of a bummer. And, somehow, in the world of the drive-in, there never really was a bad movie.

For all its technology, for all its intended-artistry, and for its entire budget, The Hulk is a drive-in movie without the drive-in; it's the greasy taco you know you shouldn't savor. And it's destined to be late-night junk food, playing incessantly on TBS, wedged somewhere between Road House and Infra Man. I know it's not good, but I was still grinning.

3 out of 5 Rent the movie, grab some Jack In The Box, and make a night of it. Hey, maybe you can even stick the TV outside, pull up the car, and play drive-in.

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