Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Throwing the Movie Against the Wall

Yesterday was an awesome day filled with meeting a friend for breakfast, followed by wandering around a store until the movie started. We went to see 2 movies---Larry Crowne and Bridesmaids.

Now, there's not much Tom Hanks can do wrong. In fact, I can't think of a single thing. We really enjoyed Larry Crowne. In addition to Mr. Hanks, there was Julia Roberts. Win-win. Nothing funnier than Cedric the Entertainer as the neighbor who has a perpetual garage sale going on in his front yard. What I liked most about this movie is that it didn't pretend to be anything other than what it was---perky, feel-good, good character development (who didn't love George Takei as the economics professor who takes away cell phones when students use them in class? And think he was funny when he really wasn't, but the class obediently laughed with him when he chided them?)---I thought it was a pretty good look at life in today's world of economic tough times, foreclosures, being downsized out of a job, but rather than dwell on all the boo-hoo, woe is me moments, this movie depicted a man doing something positive about the situation he's found himself in and refusing to feel sorry for himself.

So, on to Bridesmaids. All I can say about this movie was I'm kinda ticked I had to sit through approximately 1.5 hours of headbanging, throw the book against the wall movie for a payoff that made me want to scream at the screen, "Why couldn't the first 1.5 hours of the movie be like those last 30 minutes?" I nearly walked out during the food poisoning scene. SERIOUSLY? What is funny about people barfing and experiencing explosive gastric distress from the other end? The bride, trying to get across the street to another restroom, as the one in the bridal shop was filled with barfing/sh*tting women, had her gastric distress moment in an expensive wedding gown in the middle of the street. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET? How the hell is that comedy? Maybe I'm a prude or don't have as good a sense of humor as I think I do, but "potty humor" does nothing for me. NOTHING. Yes, this movie was supposed to be a comedy of errors with the maid of honor as Our Heroine, a woman who's lost her business due to the economy, is involved with a man who at best and worst is nothing more than a self-absorbed f*ck buddy, roommates with a pair of moronic Brits (wishing for a brick wall to bang my head against during the scenes with those 2)---in other words, her life sucks. What does she do about it?




Did I feel sorry for her? Not once it became clear (very quickly) that she wasn't willing to do anything to help herself or learn from her mistakes (the fact it appeared she continued to see her f*ck buddy despite the horrible way he made her feel and all evidence pointing to the fact he wouldn't EVER change is case in point). A decent guy came into her life (he was THE highlight of the movie, him and his lovely Scottish accent and my friend Dee and I were SOOOO happy whenever he was on screen, because then at least, we could just listen to him speak. Yeah, I'm that easy sometimes.)

There was nothing heroic about her. I didn't care about her suffering because that's all she did. Suffer. Much of it she brought on herself (refer to the comments about her f*ck buddy), flying coach when the rest of the group was flying first class (too proud to let the Poisonous Bitch pay for a first class ticket for her---we'll get to the Poisonous Bitch in a minute---this whole airplane scene was too contrived, too trite to work. Our Heroine chose to be a martyr here and the only reason and purpose of this seemed to be so that her discomfort of flying could be exploited by the Poisonous Bitch who gave her a couple of RX pills to "relax her." Okay. She doesn't like the PB, but takes RX pills from her? SERIOUSLY? Doesn't trust the PB, doesn't like her, and takes the RX pills from her? REALLY? Too Stupid To Live, much? Then, upon the advice of the PB, whom she doesn't like or trust, downs a glass of scotch on TOP of the RX pills? TSTL for sure and for certain. We were then subjected to a gratuitous scene of mayhem that results in the women being put off the plane in Wyoming (far from their Las Vegas destination) and riding a bus back to Chicago. WHY? What was the point? To allow the PB to drive another wedge between the BFF's, the bride and and the maid of honor? They didn't have to get on an airplane to do that. The only other thing this scene did was introduce a man who turned out to be an air marshal, and he appeared in the extra scenes during the credits with one of the bridesmaids, clearly that bridesmaid's love interest. And that brings me to another observation---WHY that pair for the extra scenes during the credits? EEEEEWWWW. Was disgusted. Would've rather seen Our Heroine and Her Hero (the Scotsman)---they clearly were headed into a good relationship at the end of the movie, why not capitalize on that and give the audience teasers about how that would unfold? Opportunity lost.

Okay, the Poisonous Bitch. Her role as the PB was clearly defined from the outset. You could almost see the the words "Poisonous Bitch" tattooed on her forehead. We get a few a glimpses into her life to that explained why she acted the way she did---her stepchildren hate her, her husband is largely absent, she has, boo hoo hoo, no girlfriends. And no wonder. Who'd want to be friends with someone you have to pat down for that dagger she's waiting to thrust into your back? She does get redeemed at the end, but clearly, the only purpose for her being in the movie was as the foil, the Reason For All This Trouble To Happen (because nothing but sh*t happens to our poor, long suffering Heroine.)...

There were some quirky characters that were either too over the top or under exposed. Our Heroine's mother had a quirky quirk that got nothing more than lip service---she went to AA meetings, and she wasn't an alcoholic. Why would she do that? Soooo much more could've been done with that. The bridesmaid played by Melissa McCarthy (Sookie, Gilmore Girls)---really showed off her acting chops, but I was really surprised she turned out to like men, rather than women. She came off strong, obnoxious and was the instrument employed to finally shake Our Heroine out of her pity party, so it seems her strong-armed personality was for that reason only. Again, contrived, even though the actor/actress (whichever term you prefer, political correctness is going to kill us all one day)---did as good a job with the character as she could, given the parameters this character had to fill.

Yeah, this movie pushed some buttons. If it had been a book I was reading, it would've hit the wall long about the food poisoning scene. I wouldn't have gotten to the end, which was the most decent part of the movie, which does no service to that best part of that movie.

Same goes with writing books. It doesn't matter if your ending is the ultimate if the rest of the book sucks.

So, while this movie won't go down as my favorite movie, is not in any danger of jumping into the cart at the store and coming home with me when it becomes available on DVD, it did serve a really good reminder for me, and that is to be absolutely positive that every scene has a deeper purpose---that it's not shallow, contrived or gratuitous or the disgusting masquerading as humor(yeah, that food poisoning scene really bothered me). Remember that humor is subjective. Don't forget the character development---the characters must have a clearly defined and developed reason for acting they way they do and they can't remain stagnant/TSTL/wallow or they become a source of frustration and a reason to put the book down---MOTIVATION!. I still have no idea why Our Heroine was so hell bent on feeling sorry for herself and not doing anything about it, other than she needed to be a miserable person for the rest of the story to work, in which case, should lead one to wonder, how well can the rest of the story work when the heroine doesn't work?

Now, my friend Dee has a friend who liked Bridesmaids, and I'm very much aware that many, many people did and will. I'm not usually so critical about the movies I see---before this one started, I told Dee that I'm pretty easy to please unless there were obvious reasons for me not to like it---clearly, this movie gave me many reasons to not like it. I really wanted to like it, I really did. But no, I'm not delighted I spent $$ on it (even matinee prices are absurd), but since I reaffirmed many things I need to keep in mind as I head into the revision round on my current WIP, I'm not going to begrudge the money. Certainly not the time spent. I've NEVER spent a day at the movies like I did yesterday, and it was just terrific to get out of the house with a friend, unencumbered by children and spouse. A much needed day of refreshment.


A good novel tells us the truth about its hero, but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. ~G. K. Chesterton

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. ~Stephen King

Characterization is an accident that flows out of action and dialogue.
~Jack Woodford


No comments: