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Rated: E · Column · Comedy · #1661420
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He’s huge. He comes rumbling through the city streets, breathing fire and glaring balefully through large, hooded eyes at all who try to oppose him. His name is Raymond Burr and he has been sloppily edited into a Japanese monster movie so that it can be released in the United States with a star that Americans can identify with.

The monster’s name is Godzilla and he is played by a guy in a cumbersome rubber suit with no eyeholes. This makes it all the more convincing when he rams into a miniature building and knocks it over. It’s 1954, the same year they successfully transplanted the first kidney. You might ask which of these events has produced the most good for mankind.

After you have laughed yourself silly over a Godzilla movie, you are feeling pretty doggone good. Guess what you feel like after kidney surgery.

But the party is over. According to an article in The Washington Post, written by Anthony Faiola, Toho Studios, which has been producing the Godzilla movies all these years has announced that Godzilla: Final Wars, will be the last Godzilla movie ever. The attendance numbers have been way down for the last few movies and the guy in the rubber suit is really tired.

Apparently, they are also running out of convincing foes for the big lizard, after throwing robots, giant moths and even King Kong at him, Final Wars has a scene where he staggers through the city with an angry weiner dog attached to his ankle.

In 1998, Hollywood attempted a big budget version of the franchise that bombed in large part due to the fact that it wasn’t very good.

Matthew Broderick, the star, looked a lot like he was wanting to get back to the set of “The Producers” the whole time the computer generated monster was squashing New York. It’s a pretty good guage of a movie when the funniest line during a “comic relief” scene is “That’s a lot of fish.”

Hollywood has attempted to reconcile its faux pas by giving the big lizard his own gold star on the walk of fame. At the ceremony, to pay homage to the careful dubbing in the movies, a representative of Toho Studios stood moving his mouth for several minutes, then a voice came out of nowhere saying “Thank you.”

The big lizard was originally called “Gozira” which means “small Japanese man in a rubber suit” but was changed to “Godzilla” because Raymond Burr thought “Gozira” sounded silly. (There’s a persistent rumor that Burr realized his career was probably going to be in the toilet after being spliced into a low budget foreign monster movie so he would knock back a few before showing up on the set. When it came time to say “Gozira,” all that came out was “Godzilla.”)

I read that an entire culture surrounding the movie franchise has sprung up, led by “Godzillaologists” (Their creed: “No life? Come be one of us!”) The only qualifications for being a Godzillaologist are to have seen all the movies and to be able to say “Godzillaologist” in Japanese, which can take up to three days. These people are publishing books and sponsoring events centered around everything Godzilla, which only leads me to wonder “Woh, has it really come to this?”

My gut tells me that Godzilla has once again only gone into hibernation, not retirement. Yes, I have a talking gut.

Some new generation of moviegoers will demand that he resurface to wreak havoc and nuclear firebreath on the frightened (but sometimes strangely laughing) crowds of Tokyo citizenry. Let’s just hope the guy in the rubber suit is up for it.
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