The 9/11 Moon Landings Were An Outside Job
The movie was a 5 out of 10, but given the source material that’s all it could have been. It wasn’t fantastic, and it didn’t stink. It was a competently made adaptation of a book written by an adult child for other adult children. If it was successful at all, it was that it packaged the spirit of the book and the films of the era into a movie made for children. Sort of like a live action Pixar movie. And that’s not a success that should be overlooked in an era where too many films try only for this:
My personal belief is that very few movies need to be a 5/10, which this was. If I was generous, I'd say 6/10. It's watchable but ultimately forgettable. I definitely think Spielberg (to his credit) showed that there was some heart/life to the story. However, I thought his approach just broke surface. I think a different director (even Zemeckis if you want to go older) could have really honed in on the emotional elements and made the movie something powerful. Instead it jussssssssssst makes it there. I think that's obviously a problem with the source material, but it's not an unfixable one - find what works for you, discards what doesn't.
Spielberg's approach to the references also showed that pop culture didn't need to be the be all - end all of RPO. For the most part, he downplayed them, making most references interchangeable stickers and avatars, as opposed to something that reflects the characters or the world. I don't think not using licensed characters is a Spielberg Exclusive Quality; I think many directors would do the same thing because they're not 'special' like Cline who can only associate with the world if he can link it to Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. I also think there could be a middle ground there. You don't have to be a Spielberg ignoring the prevalence of pop culture, and you don't have to be Rogue One Slobbering Cline Fan Service. I thought The Lego Movie walked that line well, integrating references as part of its wider story. I think Lord and Miller actually could have been great for this.*
(Snitty comment #1: Something I do, which I think is why you misunderstand my points a lot of the time is that, when I throw out different options, it's not that I want them all in the same thing. I'm throwing out different alternatives completely exclusive from the other. It's not contradictory, it's parallel.)
Or maybe I should be placing more of my blame on Tye Sheridan. I think with a better lead this movie could have been better. Obviously I don't want a Cline-style slobbering fanboy, but someone who displays some excitement and wonder could have gone a long way towards making me buy into this movie.
Also, I never liked Goonies. Ever.
* Going along with paragraph, there's a reason why The Shining sequence is the best regarded/most memorable bit in the entire movie. It's the only sequence that really integrates the pop culture aspect well and poignantly by letting it contribute to the plot, the characters, and the themes. I wouldn't want 100 Shining moments, but a couple of cleverer set pieces could have definitely bolstered the movie. But that sequence shows that it's not impossible to do. And of note it's also the sequence farthest from anything in Cline's book.