Frank Masi, Paramount
Channing Tatum, left, and Marlon Wayans star in the movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."

I suppose that, if I were a better person, I wouldn't be quite so pleased to see that Paramount Pictures' new toy-based movie, "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" is already dropping off at the box office.

The film opened with $54 million, well below the $70 million to $80 million the studio was forecasting at first.

It still stands a chance to make $200 million in domestic ticket sales. But making $300 million, which would put it past such summer hits as "Up," "Star Trek," the latest Harry Potter movie and "The Hangover?" It's just not happening.

Also, "G.I. Joe" reportedly cost $175 million to produce, and as much as $100 million to promote and distribute. It will take $300 million just to break even. (The movie will eventually do that, through European and DVD sales.)

Frankly, this mess doesn't deserve to be a blockbuster. It's a dim-witted thriller that's saddled with laughably bad dialogue and even-worse performances (particularly those given by good guys Channing Tatum, Rachel Nichols and Dennis Quaid, and bad guys Christopher Eccleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

And the best defense anyone could muster for the movie is that it was as good as the terrible, '80s-era cartoon series. Or more ridiculously, that watching the film is akin to playing with G.I. Joe action figures.

I beg to differ. Children playing with those toys could craft a better screenplay and story narrative. And besides, they could do so in the privacy of their own home. For free.

‚ÄČI'LL FESS UP: A few readers spotted what appears to be major discrepancy in my "G.I. Joe" critique.

That review at least implies the film is better than the "Transformers" sequel. But I gave "G.I. Joe" one and a half stars, while "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" got two stars.

What can I say? I got "Transformers 2" wrong the first time around. That review was written on strict deadline, just minutes after seeing the movie.

And I left the office feeling almost immediately that I should have given it less than that. In a subsequent, morning show review on a local radio station (X-96 KXRK-96.3 FM) I gave it one and a half stars. Today I'd give it one star. It's only gotten worse with time.

Also, I'll confess that I may have penalized "G.I. Joe" a half-star, because it wasn't pre-screened for critics. I had to see the movie at midnight, and as a result, the review was written at 3 in the morning. Can you blame me for being grumpy?

SPEAKING OF GRUMPS: The HitFix entertainment news site (www.hitfix.com) took a cheap swipe or two at critics who complained about not getting to see "G.I. Joe" early.

The article claimed critics were "whining to each other like spoiled little kids who didn't get the cool seat on the bus."

By the way, the story doesn't feature a byline and also claims that most reviews of the film were "impartial." No, most critics savaged "G.I. Joe" because it's not a very good movie.

That wasn't the stupidest line in the HitFix story, by the way. The unnamed writer also asks if "anyone (is) really surprised (critics) got the shaft" from Paramount after they panned "Transformers 2."

Conveniently, the HitFix writer and Paramount seem to have forgotten the overwhelmingly positive reviews that met Paramount's "Star Trek" reboot. How short are their memories?

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