Why do bad movies make the best reviews?

January 25, 2007

Okay, I nearly gave my Mac a chicken soup with rice bath just now as I read the opening paragraphs of Andrew O’Hehir’s Sundance write-up from yesterday. Somehow, I think bad movies bring out the best in all of us. I’m not sure what I like most about the opening paragraphs of this review. Is it how he writes that the movie in question “vomits up huge chunks of undigested Tennessee Williams” or describes his uncertainties about how Robin Wright Penn’s character, “whose relationship to her [Dakota Fanning] is obscure. Aunt? Mother? Stepmother? Adult sister? Some picturesque Southern combination of all four?” I just love it all. I love it so much, I want to ask LCB, did you secretly write this? ‘Cause that line about Elvis is so you… well, so you if you substitute maybe Emmylou Harris in for Elvis. Something else I enjoyed about this review was that it mentioned John Cusack playing a real adult in a movie about Iraq… and that just makes me think, why don’t we have a sequel to Say Anything yet? Did Lloyd become a war protester and stay at home dad for Diane? Are they still together? I wanna know.

Okay, time for more Monkey.

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3 Responses to “Why do bad movies make the best reviews?”

  1. LCB Says:

    Yeah, this movie would really annoy me. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie about the South I didn’t totally hate. You throw in Dakota Fanning, painful stereotypes and another example of the phenomenon Zan calls “The Magical Negro,” (See Bagger Vance, Legend of for the most galling iteration of this offensive theme*) and my eyes practically roll back in my head.

    But Elvis? This may make me seem seriously uncool (shocker) but I love Elvis. Not even so much the music as the man. He was deeply, endearingly strange. He loved black and pink and his mama way more than he should have. He wept with joy when he thought he saw the face of Richard Nixon in the clouds, believing it to be the sign from god he had been waiting for. Am I the only person who thinks that’s just almost unbearably sad? I finally had to stop reading the big two-volume biography because all that was left was for him to die on the toilet.

    *Seriously, black man heals tortured white man’s psyche with GOLF. GOLF. I mean, the whole “baseball as life” metaphor may be shopworn and cliche, but it’s not patently absurd. Not to mention that film completely misses a few very important historical details — like how, in Savannah in the Depression, they didn’t typically let the blackfolk into the big fancy country clubs. Noteven to play spiritual caddy to some whiny, self-indulgent has-been war hero.

  2. Liz Says:

    Seriously, I have rarely seen a movie as challenged in every possible was as Bagger Vance. It is ick on top of ick with a layer of huh? on top. The golf balls didn’t even look real.

    Speaking of movies about the south, I finally watched Prince of Tides last night. I will confess to being highly engrossed, but it was funny to watch it the same as having read a review that savaged another movie for its over-enthusiastic kudzu. Neither the music nor the fake South Carolina accents have aged well, and much like Sofia Coppola, Jason Gould cannot act. Also, Ms. Streisand has about 20 minutes of gratuitous onscreen sex once she has shrink-talked Mr. Nolte back to mental health. But it does have an interesting twist of the tragic sister developing a Jewish split personality….

  3. LCB Says:

    Yeah, I kind of love the Prince of Tides, too. I mean, it still kind of annoys me, but it’s enjoyable. And it limits itself to one of the Southern cliches I’m less offended by (for reasons I can’t explain): that we’re all deep and tortured and vaguely crazy, i.e. that we’re smart — not illiterate rednecks. And there’s nothing wrong with kudzu or cicadas in and of themselves. It’s just when they’re used as some lazy cinematic shorthand for “gothic” that it becomes an issue.

    But big fat word on the Streisand sex scenes: um, I do not need to see Babs licking Nick Nolte’s nipple. EWWWWW.

    The Legend of Bagger Vance is also Exhibit A in Why Charlize Theron Is Not A Good Actress, No Matter How Ugly She Pretends To Be. Her accent may be the worst I’ve ever heard. Also, LoBV also has one (actually two) of my least favorite movie conventions ever: the precocious youngster full of fire and homespun wisdom who also happens to be the aged narrator. No way!


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