after the debacle of center stage (2000) it seems as if we are through the looking glass...
how quickly fortunes turn. i was riding high on day one, thinking i had it made. that was folly. i have lost all mooring. did you know that sweet home alabama (2002) and rover dangerfield (1991) were the same movie?
more on that later.
the day began with how to be a serial killer (2008). there is one reason, and one reason only, that this made it on the list - chelsea maria george is of the opinion that matthew gray gubler is one hot bitch.
we can debate that all you like. what is not up for debate is that this movie is a mess. it follows the story of mike, a serial killer who, through his violence, feels he is teaching people not to take life for granted. he takes the milquetoast bart (the hot dog pictured above) under his wing to impart lessons on the ethics of murder. it jumps back and forth between narrative vignettes, talking head/documentary style footage and motivational speaker sections with little rhyme or reason. it's all over the place. it fairly reeks of "indie comedy", just like dozens we have seen before. low budget doesn't have to equate to little imagination, especially disappointing with a subject this rich with potential black humor. i know the handheld, faux documentary thing is a cheap way to get a first feature made but can we trot out a new cliché for the twenty-first century? take the schizophrenia of natural born killers (1994) and the savage comedy of man bites dog (1992) and dilute it with clerks (1994) until what you have left is neither interesting nor funny and you end up with how to be a serial killer. by the way, he was a terrible serial killer. rash, unprepared, impatient, hardly thorough - i wouldn't take lessons from this guy unless i wanted to go straight to jail.
next! rover dangerfield.
does your kid like broads, nightclubs and gambling until the wee hours? then this will be right up their alley. this is, without a doubt, one of the weirdest movies aimed at kids i have ever seen. at what point did rodney dangerfield decide that his best bet was to court the under-ten set? take his bug-eyed, tie-tugging schtick and shoehorn it into a lovable schlub of an animated hound dog and you get the picture. rover, owned by a showgirl, gets waylaid by said showgirl's boyfriend and ends up in the country living on a farm. there he learns a number of valuable lessons about life and love, wears boxer shorts with hearts on them (hilarious) and sings a few tunes, most notably "i'll never do it on a christmas tree". did i mention it begins with him shooting dice in an alley and in the first ten minutes he busts up a mafia meeting and he is tied in a bag and thrown off hoover dam? and not in a funny cartoon way, either. it also ends with the aforementioned boyfriend taking that long ride with the aforementioned mafiosi. i know pixar has gotten especially good at that one level for the kids/one for the adults kind of thing but i think that was the furthest thing from rodney's mind - he was scriptwriter, songwriter, executive producer - when he made this. i'm not sure how i feel about this one beyond just baffled.
i know how i feel about sweet home alabama, though. i feel depressed. i would have rather watched this for 108 minutes.
you know the plot, or can find a synopsis, so i am not going to rehash it in detail here. if you're patient, ten new films will rehash it by next summer, anyway. i don't know what it is. i can watch the most scathing, harrowing, violent examples of man's inhumanity to his fellow man and not bat an eye. this stuff, however, leaves me in a dark place. i think some of it has to do with how readily people want to invest in these things, what people think is important. one of the things that really stuck with me has to do with that thing i mentioned yesterday about how adept they are at exploiting your princess dreams and how willing people are to line up for it over and over. i think about a theater full of women aflutter at the notion of tiffany & co. being at their disposal and it just makes me sad. i contrast this presentation of conspicuous consumption masquerading as a crucial component of true love with an example from the count of monte cristo (2002) from yesterday's entry. in that film, the bride-to-be in question wore a piece of twine around her finger for sixteen years, while she thought her betrothed had been imprisoned and executed. i'll take one mercedès iguanada over an army of melanie carmichaels any day of the week. while you go shopping we will have many a dashing, bold adventure, living and loving as you never could. i know that's not all there was to the message of the movie but i know for a fact that there was a segment of the audience that audibly gasped when the lights came up and mcdrippy told her to pick out any ring she wanted. i just wish more fairy tales emphasized pieces of twine over shoes and accessories.
and how are sweet home and rover the same? well, let's see...
main character starts in the city, amidst the glitz and glamour, fast paced, with their crew, in their element.
somehow character is shanghaied, physically or emotionally, and ends up in the country.
after of period of adjustment and reflection, character begins to put their life in order.
pivotal scene revolves around dead, or soon to be dead, dog.
parental figure comes around to see that maybe lead character isn't so bad after all.
repeated, gratuitous comedy sound effect - rover's rimshot/fred ward's recliner's boing sound.
city element is reintroduced to character's life, seemingly being what they want.
character figures out what the city has to offer is not what they want after all and decides to stick with the rural life and their soul mate, eventually raising a family.
same movie. at least with the cartoon i laughed a couple of times. advantage, rover dangerfield!
whew. that was a rough one. maybe tomorrow will be better.