Archive for December, 2010
How do you know you should see something other than How Do You Know? Because of Paul Rudd? No, because the preview gives a hint that there are just too many subplots to allow this romantic comedy to be either romantic or comedic.
The opening scenes of the movie show Reese Witherspoon’s character struggling with being dropped from the U.S. Softball team (even though she’s only 5’1″ tall and softball won’t be a part of the 2012 London Olympics). We also see Paul Rudd’s character struggling with legal issues from his family business, even though he doesn’t make a single business decision in the entire movie (great commitment to the story). Great, we’ve got two characters with issues and they’re going to hook up, seems like a romantic comedy to me. Except that they don’t hook up, they don’t even meet until well into the movie. Their first conversation is Paul Rudd telling Reese that he won’t be going on a date with her. At this point you it hits you that this is a terribly constructed movie.
Owen Wilson is the only bright spot in the movie and he’s hilarious. He actually has funny lines that weren’t in the preview, good for him. But there could never be enough Wilson to counteract the negative affects of Kathryn Hahn. If you don’t think you know who this is, you do. She’s been in so many romantic comedies…I’ll just say, she’s been in too many romantic comedies: The Holiday, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, A Lot Like Love, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days…there are two infuriating scenes with this girl in How Do You Know: in the first scene she’s telling Paul Rudd that she can’t tell him something and he’s telling her he already knows so she won’t tell him. That goes on for five minutes. It feels like really really pointless improv. Then we’re forced to watch this side character get proposed to. Twice!
If the upcoming ending to this post feels abrupt, keep in mind that it’s being written without a multi-million dollar budget and under a short time constraint. Unlike the ending of How Do You Know which feels like the main characters just kind of shrugged and sighed and settled. How do you know you should see something else? Because Paul Rudd is in it. Wait, sorry. Because no one will like this movie.
Visa has been running ads for a few months now on their Super Bowl Tickets for Life promotion. One lucky winner can win tickets to the Super Bowl every year, for the rest of their life. That’s what Morgan Freeman says between interviews with four old guys that have been to every Super Bowl so far. Ok.
The chances of any one person winning are so distant that it’s not worth thinking about, but the commercial portrays these old guys like war heroes. They want us to look up to these guys like they deserve respect and if we just keep using our Visa cards, maybe someday we can be like these geezers. There is no less-sympathetic group of old people on TV today. Who can relate to them? Do you know much it costs just for the tickets to the Super Bowl? And did you know the Super Bowl doesn’t come to you every year? You actually have to travel to the game. Plus hotel, plus meals, plus $12 beers and $8 nachos. Those old dudes must have been pretty well off to pay for their annual trip to the big game. They’re not Medal of Honor recipients or Olympians or Nobel Prize winners, they’re just wealthy old people. You know what hits the mark with trying to give us realistic aspirations? Beer commercials. Visa commercials want me to be rich, but beer commercials just want me to drink beer.
Beer commercials make me want to be like the people in their commercials because they’re always attractive and having the time of their life at some party on the beach; Corona, Bud Lite, Miller Chill (lime+beer). What those commercials are telling us is that if we have beer we can be cool like them. And that’s cool with me. But Visa missed the point big time. What they’re saying is that if you have money, you can buy a ticket to the Super Bowl. Yeah? Really? We can use money to buy things?
I liked it better when Visa would just entertain us for thirty second commercials where they’d remind us how convenient using a credit card is. If commercials were your neighbors, that friendly reminder is the neighbor that shovels your sidewalk because they were already shoveling and they might as well just keep going. Tickets for Life? That’s the annoying, rich neighbor who brags to you about his car that you could never afford. I’ll take the clean sidewalks please.
After Disney made The Haunted Mansion and The Country Bears, two terrible movies that were inspired by Disneyland attractions, they released Pirates of the Caribbean to zero expectations. When Pirates actually turned out to be awesome, they threw two sequels together and pretended they had a trilogy in mind the whole time. Does this sound like The Matrix to anyone else? Great first movie (better than Pirates) and a real let down for the next two. If you don’t start out with a plot that can carry you through three movies, don’t write three movies. Or pull an Indiana Jones. Same character, new story.
Pirates two and three got way out of hand. They traded story and dialogue for computer assisted action sequences and Jack Sparrow hallucinations. First you get a giant sea Kracken, then you get a giant concrete crab, then you get a giant voodoo woman…all it was was a giant pile. And they’re making another one!
With Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides they have the chance for a clean slate, to make the movie they should have made before. Whoops, I mean, they had the chance. I took a look at the preview and this is what I see:
Great music, Pirates has great music. Then they show some fantastic scenery, looks good so far. Then, I realize that there’s no Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley and we spend half the movie in the jungle or on Blackbeard’s ship. I really hope it’s going to be good, but I’ve lost faith in this franchise. I like action, but it looks just like Dead Man’s Chest, they’re on the bad guy’s ship, now they’re in the jungle, they’re fighting on the ship, they’re fighting in the jungle, they’re wandering around looking for something. When you toss out key characters and keep on going, you get that Brett Favre feeling, where maybe it’s just time to hang it up. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll be there opening weekend to find out. I’ll keep my fingers crossed until May 20, 2011.
Can you separate art and the artist? Some great art (paintings, films, symphonies) has been produced by some pretty horrible people. But how that affects how we feel about their creations is different for every artist and every patron.
Each weekend, someone walks down the aisle to Richard Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, but he was a verdant anti-semite. Thomas Jefferson was a main force behind The Declaration of Independence, which is brilliant in scope and execution, and he was a slaveholder. Does forwarding controversial and harmful views invalidate a person’s work? Well, two plus two is four, no matter who is saying it, I don’t care how nuts or destructive they are. Where we can draw the line is art, because everything in art is subjective.
You’ll find that all over the world, celebrities are given leeway in our eyes more than anyone else. Infedilities, alcohol-fueled shredding of family members in voicemail, DUI manslaughter are often wiped away with the next touchdown, or funny joke, or touching movie. I’ll tell you where I draw my line and hopefully we can bring things into some kind of balance: Mel Gibson is a scumbag.
What I’ll say is that Gibson’s Braveheart is one of my favorite movies. That movie was made long before Mel Gibson exposed himself to be a bigot and a wife beater. It would be extremely hypocritical to say that now I don’t like Braveheart. I’m not a hypocrite, so I still love that movie. I’m doing my best to judge art on it’s own merits even though I may be disappointed to find out that the person who created it is a monster. But now Mel Gibson is trying to use some sock puppet Jodie Foster movie to get back in our good graces. This movie is called The Beaver. Oh yeah, that’s going to get it done, Gibby. This is how he thinks this is going to play out.
Movie: Beaver Gibson drives his family away = Mel Gibson drove his fans away. Beaver Gibson starts his humble comeback with a beaver on his hand = Mel Gibson “humbly” starts making movies again (not really possible). Beaver Gibson earns the begrudged closeness and respect of his family = Mel working us for forgiveness. Beaver Gibson gets back on his feet and gets with family again = Mel Gibson is Mel Gibson again and all is forgotten. The only problem is that he’s got a beaver on his hand the whole movie. Um, and the movie is called The Beaver. Even if the movie is great, I can’t let him get away with it. It’s too obvious for me. I was fine for six months without Mel Gibson. And Jodie Foster is directing this. Ok, Flightplan. You want to know where I draw the line? The Beaver seems like a pretty good place to start.
Character: “I’m just standing in front of my mirror, shaving like any ordinary guy…what? Why that’s shocking news! I better stop shaving this instant and wipe the rest of this shaving cream off my face with this towel. I guess it’s lucky that I already shaved once this morning.”
I was sparked to write this when I was watching an episode of the last season of Battlestar Galactica, but we’ve all seen this many many times before. I’d be willing to bet that Ryan Reynolds has done this, Mel Gibson (maybe in What Women Want), every Gillette commercial. It’s insane. Do they not think we’d notice, or care?
That’s why I’ve really got to hand it to them when the directors, the actors, and the editors take a chance and actually film someone shaving. Luke Wilson did this in The Royal Tenenbaums and so did Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison-He had a mechanical arm-Ford) in The Fugitive, and both of these guys had full beards!If you’re not going to shave for real, please just brush your teeth or something. An “every-man” would just as likely brush his teeth as shave. Maybe even more often. Hopefully more often.