Thursday, September 03, 2009

Movies for People that Hate Themselves

What's that? A blog, you say? No. I don't have a blog. I think that if I had a blog, I'd know.

Oh. Well look at that, a blog. It's mine, you say? I used to update it sporadically? Huh, how about that. I guess I'll get to it, then.

Having never had a real theme for this blog, I sometimes lapse into long periods of inactivity punctuated by brief posts with viral videos and such. It happens. Most likely because even when I have time to update the blog, I'm easily distracted.

Oh! Look! A shiny Internet! No, wait, I was doing something, what was that? Ah yes, the blog.

Well, still lacking a coherent theme, I might as well add another entry into my semi-regular-but-mostly-sporadic movie reviews. This one is a rare gem as I review not a recent blockbuster, but an older flop.

Jon and I have been reading a column on The Onion's AV Club site called, "My Year of Flops" in which the author, Nathan Rabin, reviews, well, flops. Some he marks as secret successes, those that were critically and publicly panned but shouldn't have been written off. Others he labels as fiascos. Those are failures that not just failed, but failed spectacularly, giving the viewer some schadenfreude at the very least, I suppose. The last category is just plain dismal failures.

Rabin's reviews are pretty entertaining. I highly recommend checking out the archives. His review of the fiasco "Lady in the Water" prompted Jon and I to check the movie out last night, albeit with an excellent iRiff from to accompany us, shielding us from the worst of M. Night Shamblingplot's excesses.

For those of you interested in avoiding spoilers and wasting another precious portion of your time today, here's my summary from my Facebook status last night after watching the movie.

"Watching 'Lady in the Water' is like having M. Night Shamalamadingdong slam you repeatedly in the face with a crayon-written tome of plot."

I suppose there is a fine line between subtly leading your audience along the strands of your plot until you've got them hopelessly ensnared in an intricate web of allusions, symbolism, and tantalizing hints and just laying your plot bare, tweests and all, for the audience to see from the beginning. M. Night Chamois does not walk this line. He doesn't just cross it, either. He pole-vaults past the point of beating the audience with blatant symbolism, sticks the landing in the realm of bludgeoning the audience with every obvious plot point, and leaps up, chest welling in pride as he waits for the applause that will never come from an audience too bored to care about his self-aggrandizing back-patting.

Right! The review! So Paul "Sadsack" Giamatti's character, the stuttering and depressing Cleveland Heep (not the most ridiculous name in the movie, honest!) is the super in a dismal apartment building. He finds a narf (almost the most ridiculous) named Story (alias, Bryce Howard Dallas, yes, Opie's daughter) living in the pool. Naturally, he takes her in and clothes her in one of his shirts. Never any pants, shorts, sweats, or any sort of covering on her lower body, just the shirt. Not important, just a head-scratcher after an entire movie. Story is trying to "awaken" a specific human, which involves making him feel tingly inside and filling his head with ideas. Maybe that's why she never wears pants?

Story is fettered in her quest by arbitrary rules that M. Night Sheboygan parcels out whenever he feels the movie is progressing too smoothly. The biggest fetter also holds the dubious distinction of having the most ridiculous name, a nightmarish wolf-like creature made of grass and roots called (snicker) a scrunt.

Yeah, let's take the least assuming, most harmless noun we can think of, runt, add a couple of letters and BAM! You've got a fearsome beast of the night! Sorry M. Night Shaboopie, it's just that everything you do makes my eyes roll up to the back of my head.

Heep is tasked with finding Story's human and, as the retarded plot points are triumphantly slapped down on the table like cards in a $70 million game of gin, Story's special helpers. These include a healer, an interpreter, and a guild. In an epic tweest that we couldn't possibly have seen coming as soon as the characters were introduced one at a time, Heep fails miserably and gathers the exact wrong group of helpers. He does first succeed, however, to find Story's special friend. In a fit of egomaniacal self-insertion, M. Night Sham-WOW! cast himself as the genius writer whose book is destined to change the world. Everything, and I mean everything in this movie is as transparent as that mind-numbing bit of self-congratulatory dickery.

So Heep gets it all wrong and in a complete lack of symbolism and leading the audience (at least, last night's audience) to a complete "about time!" moment, he figures out the real cast of helpers. Our narf, excuse me, madam narf (so much more special than an ordinary narf!) Story gets picked up by the magical antlion (ugh, I wish is was an antlion) I mean Eatlon, or ginormous eagle. The J.G. scrunt (in an uncharacteristic bit of obfuscation, M. Night Shirley never tells us why it's a "J.G." scrunt, it just is, dammit! Hey, maybe that's the real tweest!) is destroyed(? Eaten? Dragged off? Treated to a make-over? I don't know) by the evil law keepers (yeah, solve that cognitive dissonance) the Tartutic (tree-dwelling monkeys made of vines. Don't ask me.)

In the one scene that M. Night Chazzpalminteri could have let symbolism speak for him but instead ruined earlier with more face-slamming foreshadowing, Heep says farewell to the strange pantsless lady from the water, the credits roll, and we will never ever get our 110 minutes back.

This movie hurt me. It was painful to watch. The only joy found here was in the uncommonly good riffing provided by the lovely Tristan, Tracy and Kevin from quiptracks. Thanks for the laughs, guys! I experienced literal pain from laughing so hard at Bill Irwin (Mr. Noodles to the preschool crowd) gobbling like a turkey. I don't think I'll ever see him without thinking of turkeys. I'm actually laughing now thinking about it.

So yeah, I was going to suggest that you never watch this movie. However, if you can snag the iRiff and just watch the turkey scene with Irwin near the end, do it. I give this movie three out of two thousand nine hundred sixty seven balls of gem-crusted healing poo on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.