Monday, March 19, 2007

The challenge of our rivals

As I've already mentioned, I hardly make it into theaters to see movies in real-time, so all my movie reviews should be cataloged under the heading "Relatively new on DVD." In other words, these comments are hopelessly after-the-fact...but whatever!

This weekend we watched a gaggle of films, the quality of which got increasingly better, thank goodness, but the offerings started out freakishly bad, unfortunately. First up was Idiocracy, a Mike Judge (King of the Hill) flick staring Luke Wilson (hence our reason for getting it. That, and a free Blockbuster gift card). This movie was, in a word, awful. In more words, it wanted to be a pointed satire on the dumbing down of American culture but failed, miserably. Not enough satire, not enough bite, not enough sense. Which was immensely disappointing, given Judge's track record for pitch-perfect social commentary. It was as if the movie couldn't resist the bathroom humor (literally: one character has an armchair with a built-in toilet in front of his 9 television screens) on its way to making a point about rampant consumerism and the urban wasteland and got sidetracked. Wilson himself seemed sort of embarrassed to be on screen most of the time, and I don't blame him.

Movie number two was The Oh in Ohio, picked out by the husband who assured me that it couldn't possibly be exclusively about orgasm. He was wrong. Sadly, though, the film wasn't nearly as scintillating as it could have been. Instead, we saw "indie darling" Parker Posey getting busy...and busier...with her vibrator and Paul Rudd getting busy with Mischa Barton. And yet...yawn. Oh, and Posey falls in love with, get this, Danny Devito, starring as a long-haired pool impresario...or something. Really, the movie was pointless in the extreme. Right now, only a few days later, I can't really remember the plot...largely, I think, because there wasn't one. I mean, really, I want more from a movie ostensibly about orgasms, for crying out loud...pun intended.

Luckily, the weekend was saved by Invincible, the based-on-a-true-story Danny Wahlberg vehicle chronicling the unlikely rise of a South Philly native to the NFL in the 1970's. In all honesty, I must say we were predisposed to like this movie, having lived in Philly when we first got married. In fact, when we went to the movies, we went to the multiplex in South Philly, so our movie watching experience was set to the sound of cell phones and drunk guys yelling at the screen. And yet, mysteriously, we still feel a lot of nostalgia for those days! As did the filmmakers, apparently, since much of the movie was filmed in sepia or gray tones meant to evoke the city of the past. Of course, anyone who has lived there knows that you don't really need fancy filming to capture the city of the past since it hasn't changed a bit in 30 years! Admittedly, Invincible wasn't incredibly long on plot, but the characters exhibited a kind of gravely gravitas that still marks the South Philly natives today, a kind of unsentimental but grudgingly powerful camaraderie we saw again and again with our friends on the south side. Oh, and Wahlberg has gotten incredibly buff!

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