What are we going to do with the movies? According to the New York Times attendance this summer was the lowest since 1997. Box office isn’t hurting, the theaters are charging more for tickets and they’ve figured out they can charge a premium for gimmicks like 3-D. I’d despair if Hollywood wasn’t all about the money. If the money starts drying up the executives in charge will fire a few of their pet puppets and start looking at more creative directors like Robert Rodriguez.

I can’t think of any movie more suitable to kick of my Superficial Gallery movie reviews than Machete. This homage to violent low budget ’70’s exploitation flicks has an ironic sense of humor about itself that just wasn’t found in the more conventional summer movies like The Expendables. That and there’s nudity, lots of nudity. Jessica Alba gets some artful skin exposure and, in what has to be an intentional in joke, Lindsay Lohan gets a great looking body double. If you’re disappointed about not getting full frontal Lohan don’t worry, she gets a scene where she gets to blast away at everything that moves dressed as a nun.

There were five fake trailers in Grindhouse (Canadian’s got the fifth one Hobo With a Shotgun which is also being made into a full feature film) It was one of those wild ideas that Quentin Tarantino had and Rodriquez already had a script that he’d written in 1993 after working with Danny Trejo on Desperado. He’d never gotten around to making it as a feature but it made a great fake trailer with a mean looking Federale who gets double-crossed. It was outstanding enough that he got a green light on financing for a full length feature.

In the hands of another director, one who didn’t care, this would have ended up another steaming pile on the big screen. Rodriguez has that director’s magic to take all the foolishness seriously; naked girls (wait till you see where she keeps her cell phone) ultra violence and all the other ridiculous moments right from the opening machete pirouette. Sure it’s got a message but anyone who takes this as a serious part of the immigration debate has just been listening to too many talking heads. It’s a fun summer movie and that’s what you’re going to see when you buy the ticket.

Machete is played by the ominous looking Danny Trejo. He’s spent a career playing menace and it’s a pleasure to see him in the lead especially when it becomes evident that he’s going to get the girls just like a more typical hunk of Hollywood man meat. Machete is an ex Federale who’s out to avenge the death of his wife and daughter. Steven Seagal passed up the opportunity to act with the other poseable plastic action figures in The Expendables for the killer drug lord role and for a change I’m not groaning when he’s on screen. Machete lops and chops and escapes to Austin where he’s double crossed and there’s only a few brave souls that are willing and able to help him fight for the dream.

You actually don’t really need a  lot of plot details. It’s all about De Niro doing his best Max Cady with a Texas accent and driving around with Don Johnson looking to shoot border bunnies. Jeff Fahey may have finally escaped the stigma of Lawnmower man with the double-crosser Booth and Cheech Marin proves once again that he doesn’t have to smoke and joke to be on screen. Then there’s the smoking hot Michelle Rodriguez as a taco truck owner with automatic weapons. I’ve become a big fan of the tough girls Michelle plays and there’s a little bit of the tough Latina in the guilty immigration agent Jessica Alba plays too. I think I already mentioned Lindsay Lohan dressed up as a nun with a gun and that’s worth investing in a ticket by itself.

You know what you’re getting into when you walk into Machete. If you met Cheech on the way in he’d tell you all about what Rodriguez was thinking when he shot the movie, “He’s not going to write some socially-conscious, politically articulate thing…….. He’s going to make Machete.”