|KEX'S AMAZING WORLD|
|Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken|
Last Week: Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000
Does anyone stay home on January 1 anymore and ease their hangovers while catching mind-numbing doses of college football on the tube? The answer to that question, judging from the crowds in Century Theaters lobby this week is apparently no. However, its kind of hard to tell if people were just shunning the bowl games or if Century just pulled off another gaff. In a cinemaplex with 16 screens, it would seem prudent on what might be reasonably forecast as a busy movie watching day to stagger starting times in such a way that all 16 movies aren't starting within 20 minutes of each other. Just a thought Century, but the 700 or 800 people in the lobby trying to buy tickets today was a bit absurd.
Oh yeah, I want to review a movie this week. The victim at bat (sorry, I couldn't resist) is Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, and already the title suggest some interesting questions. Ignoring for a moment that the movie has only been out for a week and the title already makes it seem old and dated, a curious question comes to mind. Has Wes Craven fallen into a self indulgent fit of ego masturbation that now requires him to put his moniker on all of his films, or did the studio simply figure that the only way they could market this cannister of roadkill was to attempt to appeal to Craven's cinematic following?
Yeah, Craven has done some excellent horror stuff in the past and turning him loose with the Dracula theme might seem, on the surface, to be a coup. Then again, the fact remains that the Dracula license has been done sufficently to have driven the obligatory stake through its heart a few decades ago. The only way to present the story from a fresh perspective would be to pull something dumb out of your directorial ass, which is precisley what Craven did, more or less with the story. But we will get to that later.
The movie got in trouble pretty early on when we were able to establish that the beloved Prince of Darkness (Gerard Butler) was not even going to be the creepiest character in the story. That title was retired by the usual Dracula story hero, Abraham Von Helsing(Christopher Plummer). Yeah, he really is in this movie, although the math creates a fairly immediate absurdity: Bram Stoker had his Dracula running around circa 1890's and we assume that Von Helsing was already at least in his 40's then. That puts him at the century and a half mark for this production, and he is posing as his own grandson.
It seems that Von Helsing has been keeping the remains of the Count in a high tech vault, and harboring leeches on the vampires body which slowly extract Dracula's blood. Von Helsing injects himself with the blood in order to keep himself alive to act as the guardian of Dracula's body, because he can't figure out how to kill the old blood sucker. Apparently it never occured to him to simply wheel the moribound Dracula outside on a nice sunny day, then invite all the neighbors over for a fun-filled weenie roast.
Naturally, two problems arise from Von Helsing's obsession: First, since he has been injecting himself with Dracula blood, some sort of Dracula beakon has been passed along to his daughter Mary (Jennifer Esposito). Second, the mystery of what old Von Helsing is hiding in his high tech vault is just too great of a temptation for some of his ex-workers, and they raid the tomb to accidentally release the long sleeping Count.
This is one of those horror type movies in which every character has apparently managed to achieve adulthood without ever actually seeing a horror movie. Consequently they do a host of dumb things that the rest of us wouldn't even think of doing in a million years. For instance, if you happen to be riding in a cargo plane with an apparently impenetrable coffin, which somehow opens and you get attacked by leeches, most of us would simpy close the coffin and pile everything on top of it we could find. The character in this movie has to nose around the dead body and artifacts inside until Dracula awakens.
We also see the stereotypical scene in which the heroine, Mary, creeps around through a dark house which she knows contains some sort of perilous evil. Most of us would simply leave the house, drive across town to Motel 6 where the lights are left on for us, dial 911 to get the police to check it out, then order some Dominos. They deliver.
Or there was the scene with the TV news reporter in which her cameraman is being attacked by Dracula. She escapes to the van, where she lies on the floor writhing in terror until it is her turn to be bitten. The alternative of course, was simply to jump in, turn the key and press the pedal on the right to the floor, but that apparently never occured to her.
I guess the theme that is being developed here is that all horror stories require a setting in an alternate universe where almost all of the characters are blithering idiots. The principle blithering idiot in Dracula 2000 is the male protagonist Simon (Johnny Lee Miller). Allow me a moment of digression: The companion with whom I saw this movie (actually companions, since two small children and a dog were also involved) noted that Johnny Lee Miller never gets to play a character whose name isn't Simon. That must be a real drag, because guys named Simon spend most of their childhood getting beat up by the football team before math class.
Simon was apparently something of a loser in life before Von Helsing took him in, undoubtedly because he was physically and psychologically scarred from all of those childhood beatings by the jocks. Rather than remain in safety in London, he takes it upon himself to follow Von Helsing to New Orleans in order to aid in the recovery of Dracula. It seems like a pretty dumb thing to do, but I guess for guys named Simon, chasing vampires can't be a whole lot more dangerous later in life than going to math class as a child.
Eventually we get to find out that Dracula is really the undead incarnate of Judas Escariot, betrayer of Christ. His guilt led him to an unsuccessful attempt at suicide which sent him to an eternity of damnation in the form of a vampire. And I always thought that Dracula was modeled after Vlad the Impailer, who was a Wallachian ruler around the middle of the 15th century. In a reign of terror over about 5 years, he apparently caused the deaths of about 40,000 of his countrymen in nasty ways before he was conquered by the Turks. He was returned to power for a short time a few years later, but the good Wallachians apparently tired of rule under a maniac, and deposed him.
The religious ties gives the story an opportunity to take some humorous shots at religion, but we hardly need to pull the stake out of Dracula's heart yet again to accomplish that. The movies special effects varied from slick to shoddy, and the movie was largely unremarkable. I didn't hate it, but there wasn't much here to recommend either.
What probably will come out of this movie would appear to be a new fall series, probably on Fox:Wes Craven Presents Mary Von Helsing, Vampire Hunter. The ending is such an obvious setup for a TV pilot, or at least a movie sequel that its hard to believe the followup project isn't already in production.
Last Week, Bonus Review: A Beautiful Mind:
I think we finally have a winner. We are pretty late into the year's Oscar race, but Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind has to have emerged as the odds on favorite. Hell, if it doesn't win, somebody at Price-Waterhouse got paid off. This is clearly the best major studio release of the year, and since an independent won't win the Oscar, there is no other reasonable choice.
Well, that may not be 100% true. Blackhawk Down is yet to be heard from, but I can't think its going to persuade a lot of Oscar voters. In the first place, its only opening in two markets before January 1. In the second place, they had to change the name of one of the story's heros since the real guy is serving a 30 year prison sentence for child molestation. That could poison it in the view of at least a few Oscar voters...just a wild guess there.
A Beautiful Mind the story of Dr. John Nash, a mathematican who won the 1994 Nobel Prize for some breakthrough work on gaming theory that had major implications in economics, and evolutionary biology. The implications of mathematical ideas can be curiously far reaching. That is a remarkable enough achievement in itself, but Nance had to overcome the devastating problems associated with schizophrenia through the course of his life.
One of the interesting things about this film is that it has been warmly embraced by Nash's wife. Curiously, however, Nash himself is not all that fond of it. I guess the readers can make of that what they will. Personally, I'll rely on the word of the person who was mostly in touch with reality during the course of events.
I had a pretty good opportunity to put Nash's theories into action during the course of the film. You see, one of the major points of his equilibrium theory amended 150 year old economic notions posed by Adam Smith that individuals only act in self interest. Nash pointed out that individuals act in the interest of both themselves, and groups to whom they have allegiance. I could have demonstrated that by stuffing a sock into the mouth of the lady next to me that had some difficulty of understanding the concept of keeping your yap shut during a movie. That would have benefited me AND the group (movie goers) but I acted humanely instead, and let it pass.
I've heard that certain gay rights organizations are upset with this film because it fails to portray Nash's inclinations toward bisexuality. Excuse me, but is anyone else out there getting as fed up with some of these people as I am? Understand that I have nothing whatsoever against gay people, but this film WASN'T about Nash's sexual proclivities. Director Ron Howard went to rather great pains to avoid a whole lot of any reference to his sexuality, beyond the fact that he apparently didn't get laid all that often as a young man. I was a member of that club myself.
There is a level at which I can really relate to this film. Nash's schizophrenia causes him to be delusional, and have a difficult time sorting his fantasy world from the real world. I've had some recent experiences with a similar problem.
You see, I keep having this notion that a little over a year ago, a man took over the leadership of our nation despite the fact that the majority of people who voiced an opinion on the matter wanted the other guy to be president. It had something to do with an archaeic law that prevents the people from really deciding such matters, but surely after 200 years, we would have cast off a stupid system like that, so it couldn't REALLY have happened, right?
Here is the real sticker in this delusion: The guy who assumed the leadership of the country is from a family that makes the Corleone Clan look like the Cleavers. Once upon a time, in one of our great western states, the one I happen to live in, it looked like a lot of ordinary people were going to get rich when someone decided we could solve the country's energy problems by developing oil shale. But the people who control the country's oil reserves (including the family of the guy who is elected President in my delusion) pulled the carpet out from under the plan. A lot of good people lost just about everything they owned, and the family of the guy who became President bought out the hopes and dreams of the futures for all those people for pennies on the dollar.
If that wasn't enough, the man's brother ripped off just about everybody else in the state when he ran a Savings and Loan into the ground, and walked away clean after absconding with the life savings of a lot of little old ladies. That could never happen in America though, right?
You want to know how really sick this delusion of mine was? Well, during the first year he was in office, the nation suffered a major crisis due to a terrorist attack. The economy also went into the shitter. The leader in question proposed and economic stimulous package that mostly benefited rich people like himself, and screwed the middle class and poor people sideways, just like under Reagan during the 80's. Further, the loopholes that allowed the terrorist attacks were not really addressed. But the vast majority of the people in the country proclaimed that the man was doing a good job, because they were scared that their friends would not like them anymore if they said anything different. But that couldn't happen in America either, right?
Last Week: Star Trek-Nemesis:
The Star Trek license is infected with certain inevitabilities. If a series is reasonably successful, it will spawn movies. The movie line will be milked at least one film too long. And most annoying, nobody ever dies. At least not really. I think all of these points should be examined in a little more detail.
The original Star Trek series left the air 3 years into its 5 year mission, but just wouldn't die. It ran continuously in syndication for years with constant rumors that it would be revived in the form of a new series. But the networks considered the project potentially too expensive, so Gene Rodenberry and company put together a movie instead. Then they did another, and another ad infinitem, each getting progressively lamer as a rule.
Then when it seemed that the series couldn't plumb any new depths, somebody got the lame-assed idea to let William Shatner direct one, and things really hit the pavement and left a crater. But not to worry for the Trekkies...a new series was born, and they were kept entertained for several more years by a new crew aboard the Enterprise. That series was followed up by a new group of films.
Trekkies never have to worry about any of their favorite characters getting rubbed. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) died in Star Trek 2, only to be revived by a retarded plot contrivance. Fortunately he died on the Genesis planet, and he was able to be reconstituted, or something dumb like that. Fortunately, enough time passed between the releases of Star Trek 2 and 3 that the people who make money off of the license were able to fob off a couple of million bucks worth of "Spock Lives" bumper stickers on the throng of morons who think Star Trek is a documentary.
Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelly), who was pretty old in the original series, somehow managed to hang on another century or so and made a cameo in the first episode of Next Generation. By that time he had to be old enough to fart dust. Spock also figured into later episodes of the series, although that wasn't as annoying because Vulcans supposedly have longer lifespans. But the writers of Next Generation even managed to figure out a way to keep Scotty (James Doohan) around for an episode. You'd think that within the realms of sci fi, there is enough possibility that crap like that would be unnecessary.
Probably worst of all was the death of James Kirk (William Shatner). He died near the beginning of the movie Generations, the film which tied the original and Next Generation series together. But he was revived within the film, permitting him to die again in the end. By that time, even the most devoted Trekkies were less overcome with the emotion of the moment than silently hoping that he would stay dead for a change.
This time around, we are treated (?) to the demise of Commander Data, but worry not Trekkers, the means was devised for his revival as well. That might seem like a plot spoiler, but it really isn't. I'm guessing that the Trek fans already are aware of that plot point, and those who aren't Trek fans don't give a poo anyway.
The seeming immortality of the characters applies much less to their real life careers. William Shatner couldn't manage anything better than a seriously crappy police series after the demise of Star Trek. Patrick Stewart will continue playing essentially the same character in the X-Men license, now that Next Generation movies are apparently wrapped up.
Leonard Nimoy spent his time after the demise of the series and before the start of the films narrating an intellectually insulting TV show about Martians and ghosts and stupid stuff like that. Jonathon Frakes has filled his hours narrating shows on fox about Martians and ghosts and stupid stuff like that. See a pattern developing?
Levarr Burton has a gig reading books to children on PBS. Most of the other characters just eek out a living hopping from convention to convention accepting handouts from people who dress up like Klingons and never date. Then there is Will Wheaton, who played Leslie Crusher on Next Generation. There is a guy who did himself big favors professionally.
He dropped out of the series in hopes of finding bigger and better things in his career. However, his horizons proved to be about as wide as 8 pound test monofilament fishing line, and we haven't seen much of him. His biggest role since leaving Next Generation was probably in this film. If you look close and don't blink, you'll see him in a scene early in the movie. But he doesn't even get to mutter a single line. The guess here is that he probably had to audition to appear as an extra reprising his own role.
Nemesis wasn't terrible, but those without a strong grounding in Star Trek fandom might feel a little lost. And it always seemed to me that the Romulans might well have proven a formidable enough force to warrant a story without the contrived plot twist of making their leader a clone of Piccard. Yes, supposedly the Romulans got ahold of a Piccard hair folicle or bit of skin and cloned the captain. The guess here is that it was a skin sample. Die hard Star Trek fans will probably like this film. Maybe they better love it, because there isn't anything else looming on the Trekkie/Trekker horizon.
Last Week: Mona Lisa Smile:
Enduring this movie is like falling down the stairs. You know that last bump really hurt. The next one is going to hurt even worse, and the very last one is really going to be a bruising sonovabitch. The biggest problem here is that it takes two hours to get to the last once, so you have to endure a lot of pain before that coup de grace. I guess it could be said that watching this movie is like falling down the stairs at the Statue of Liberty.
Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) is a young college professor from a prototypical liberal college on the left coast in the mid-50's. Watson is supposed to be 30 years old according to the plotline, although Roberts lost the capacity to pass herself off as a 30 year-old some time ago. Maybe the script writers should have done a little erasing once the casting was set.
For some idiotic reason, she has a dream of taking her degree from Oakland State and becoming a professor at the prestigious eastern women's college, Stepford Wives University aka Wellesley. Somehow her education in art history has sheltered her from the fact that despite Wellesley's prestige, its really little more than a finishing school for snobby rich girls, enabling them to get coveted MRS. degrees as awarded by young men from Ivy league schools.
Watson probably should have been clued in (sorry Holmes fans, I couldn't resist) when she is faced with her first class. All of the students are apparently seniors, although she is teaching a 100 level course. Generally speaking, most seniors are usually consumed with their majory study. As close as I could figure, none of them had majors. In fact, the faculty appeared to consist of only a couple of dozen professors.
When Watson is stunned by the fact that her students have already memorized the course syllabus on the first day, and apparently aren't interested in anything but getting married, she sets out on the task of opening their minds and broadening their horizons. But the task is going to be a daunting one, considering the type of students she has to attempt to mold.
First we have Betty (Kirsten Dunst, obviously trying to live down her Spiderman character) who is the campus flaming bitch. She is already engaged, and considering how utterly obnoxious she is, we hope its to somebody named Bush. She is also the editor of the school newspaper, and it would seem that she is sufficiently powerful to get just about anyone on campus fired with a mere unfavorable remark in one of her columns. Her wedding is elaborate enough to embarass the British Royals.
We also have Joan (Julia Stiles) who teeters in the precipice of independence, but is pulled back to subservience in a nick of time. Constance (Ginnifer Goodwin) has more than a slight problem with self esteem, and just wants a guy, any guy, to notice her. Finally, we have Gisselle (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is the campus slut. Giselle tramps around with pretty much any married guy who walks by. Her targets include the Italian professor, the only guy she sleeps with who isn't married. This creates some significant complications, since Watson has an affair with him.
Watson tries to use modern art as a tool to open the girls' minds. Of course, the other members of the faculty and the girls' parents are none too keen on her methods. It would seem that they all realize that they are living the Republican Valhalla that 21st century conservatives will yearn for, and none of them want some radical from the left coast rocking the boat. So as Watson tries to open minds, she feels the resistance around her.
Meanwhile, Betty's marriage starts falling apart after about 3 months, and she becomes even bitchier and more spiteful. A hateful editorial she pens drives Watson to the point of quitting, although she never actually does. It doesn't appear that she spends much time teaching classes during the last half of the school year either. Most of the time we see her hanging out in bars or playing with the Italian professor. I guess the nice people at Wellesley continue to figure that she is earning her paycheck just by keeping him from knocking up his students.
Ultimately Watson is faced with the choice of quitting, or staying on at Wellesley under the condition that she forfeit all of her academic control and principles. Wow, that would be a tough choice. Shockingly, she makes the choice every other college professor in the known universe would make under those conditions. But look how much better off her students are now: Betty is still a bitch, but a divorced one. Joan doesn't go to law school, and becomes a good Stepford wife. Constance gets the confidence to land herself a man, albeit a little weasel who will cheat on her first opportunity he gets. Giselle is still a slut with a queue of backoffice abortions looming in her future. Good work, Professor Watson.
Last Week: What the Bleep Do We Really Know:
I'm not offering a rating this week, simply because its a bit hard to decide exactly what to do with this movie, and I don't necessarily want to inadvertently discourage the readers from seeing it. Simply telling you what its about is likely to do that without further comment, and that is unfortunate.
That doesn't mean I don't have my share of problems with the material and philosophies as presented. Quite the contrary. Quantum physicists are interesting people to talk to. They write fascinating books, and do some really cool lectures. The problem I have with them comes when they go beyond the reasonable "whats" and "hows" of science, and delve too deeply into the "whys." At that point, a lot of them start sounding like flakes who spend a little too much time alone in poorly lighted rooms with no company other than computers.
There is a story told at one point in this movie, quite speculatively presented, that when Columbus's ships arrived in the New World, the natives couldn't see them at first because wooden sailing ships simply weren't part of their reality. Its this kind of nonsense that makes me wonder if some quantum physiscists have trouble staying in touch with reality when dealing with a branch of science that causes the nature of reality to look a little bizzare.
The implication of that idea clearly isn't logically thought out to its full conclusion. None of us would ever be able to see anything in our lives, because we are all born with virtually no experience. Consequently, we could never see anything familiar from which to build a base. Besides, even the natives of the New World were familiar with almost everything that wooden ships are built from, so its kind of a ridiculous notion.
One of the few foods I personally can't eat is peas. At least, I can't eat them by themselves. Put them in something else, and I can usually get them down, even enjoying the flavor enhancement they provide. But by themselves, they are effectively poison to me. I'm sure they weren't invisible to me the first time my unwitting mother tried to shovel a fork full into my mouth, and ended up being showered with pea hork. That was an enhancement of her life experience though, and I'm not conscious of another effort on her part ever to make me eat peas again. She became experience wired against feeding young Kex peas.
Other institutions responsible for looking out for my nutrition over the years had to be subjected to similar experiences. The people who ran various school cafeterias who established "two bites" rules for all foods had to be trained by experience as well. All of them ended up cleaning up pea based technicolor yawns and ultimately excused me from the negative experience of eating peas.
Speaking of pee, I missed most of the last half hour of this movie because of my own negative wiring. I had to pee really bad, after consuming one of those barrel sized movie soft drinks that an Olympic swim team could train in. Its pretty hard to follow a lot of physical and philosophical prattle when you are thinking a lot about your own negative impressions of the consequences of not relieveing your bladder, SOON!
There is the whole discomfort factor, particularly having to walk funny. And a warm, wet stain there on the jeans before you have to walk outside where its about 30 degrees with a cold wind blowing. The smell usually isn't very pleasant, there is embarassment from the other people walking out of the theater looking at you, and finally, my wife probably not even wanting to acknowledge my existance.
Fortunately I made it to the closing credits, then made a wild dash to the men's room. The closing credits featured some introductions and brief autobiographical notes from the experts who were doing the discussing in the film, but I didn't care that much. My bladder was considerably more important, and I knew who a few of them were anyway.
So, this is a documentary about reality and God and how we perceive reality. It discusses our addictions to emotional states, even bad ones, that sometimes sabotage our lives, forcing us to make decisions that aren't always in our best interests. Its one of those movies you should probably watch, then go off someplace quiet for awhile to contemplate how much of it you want to take with you, and how much you just want to write off as egghead stuff. But its truly worth making that much of an effort.
Last Week: Curious George:
Anyone out there who thought that a cartoon about Curious George might score anything less than a smiley probably hasn't spent a whole lot of time hanging around K.A.W. This movie could have been lead voiced by Adam Sandler, written by Jim Carrey and directed by Uwe Boll, and it still might have had a pretty good shot at a smiley around these confines.
Fortunately, none of those horrors are visited upon us. The film was competently produced by Ron Howard who, of course, found a bit part for his weird looking brother as the voice of the balloon salesman. Sometimes I think that Howard was compelled to enter show business just so his brother wouldn't have to participate in it at the level of sideshow attraction.
Curious George is a throwback to the days when cartoons were drawn by armies of talented animators, rather than cranked out by computer geeks who are hoping to have a date someday, or by arrestedly developed clay artists that we all hope we'll never meet on a dark street some night. Producer Ron Howard can be highly commended for that return to better times.
Not only did he reward us those of us in the baby boom generation with an 86 minute visit with one of our beloved childhood characters, but he also took us there in a familiar vehicle. As an added bonus to the process, he apparently created jobs for most of the animators in Korea, and quite a few in the U.S. of A as well.
In one fell swoop, Howard created more jobs than George Bush has managed to generate in 5 years, and he didn't have to invade a single country and throw unimaginable millions of dollars at defense contractors. That is worth something all by itself. But Curious George has a quality that even transends that compliment.
This film is a lot different than most contemporary animation efforts. Too often, modern film producers feel that they have to appeal not only to children, but keep the attention of adult audiences as well. That usually leads to scripts that are heavy on innuendo, and other forms of humor which adults will catch, and leave the kids on the outside of the joke, or at least, so they hope.
Curious George had none of that. This movie was sweet and innocent, precisely in the spirit of Margert and H.A Rey's books. It is that quality that makes this film magical, and worth a look. You'll see films that are better animated this year. You may even see animated films that you find more amusing and entertaining. You won't see another one that will so softly return you to your childhood, and simply allow you to dwell in the comfort of a more innocent time.
Will Ferrell provides the voice of the man in the big yellow hat, who as curator of a struggling museum, travels to Africa to find a lost artifact that will save the museum from bankruptcy. He doesn't find what he is looking for, but does make a friend in the form of a mischevious little monkey whom he ultimately names George. Taken with his new playmate, George stows away on Ted's (the man in the yellow hat) ship, and follows him back to New York.
George gets Ted kicked out of his apartment, and creates all sorts of havoc at the museum, but the friendship between the two grows. Ted also has the opportunity to get closer to an attractive school teacher, voiced by Drew Barrymore.
This film is aimed at younger children, and kids of upper grade school age will probably consider themselves too old for it. But I think a lot of adults will find themselves surprisingly enchanted. There is no heavy plot, no adult oriented jokes, no high powered animation and no satire or social commentary. Its just an adorable little escapist film, and I think a lot of us can use a little bit of that these days.
Previously: The Namesake:
The unusual thing about this movie is that almost everyone who sees it, at least in this country, is going to hate it more than I did. They will dislike it for entirely different reasons to be sure, but for once, I'm not going to get a bunch of email from the trailer park set telling me how full of crap I am.
The reason that most Americans are going to dislike this film is because it deals with brown-skinned foriegners who are trying to make their way in America without completely surrendering their own cultural heritage. Now, most people with half a brain realize that apart from Super Bowl Sunday, America has no cultural heritage of its own. We borrowed everything from all the good countries.
Still, the vast majority of people here think that anyone who comes here from somewhere else should immediately adopt the "American lifestyle," whatever the hell that is. That goes double if you happen to be brown-skinned and speak a different language, even if you speak pretty passable English already. In most of the world, if you can't speak more than one language, you are considered intellectually defecient. Here in America, we consider others inferior if they can. Go figure.
This movie starts off with a train wreck, which couldn't have been a more appropriate piece of symbolism. The entire film deals with a young Indian male (the type who lives in India) who happens to be a big fan of the Russian author Gogol. Like most Russian authors, Gogol wrote incredibly boring novels that run about 30000 pages and contain about 25 pages of actual story. Why anyone in the world ever develops a fascination for Russian literature is a complete mystery to me.
After a train wreck, the young man ventures to America to study and eventually lands a job as a college professor. Then he returns home briefly to meet the woman he is going to marry, in an arranged nuptial, as is the custom in that country. Adapting to life in America is extremely challenging for the young couple, but the pair becomes reasonably successful, while holding on to some of their cultural values.
Then along come the kids as often happens to young married couples, and raising children in the land of liberty becomes especially challenging. By the time their two children become teenagers, they are thoroughly Americanized, and don't give crap one about their Indian heritage, much to the chagrin of mom and pop. Still, the older generation tries to be understanding and grant the kids their weird clothes, disturbing music and even romances with white folk.
Eventually Pops dies, which causes his son, the eldest of the children to go on a mother of and angst trip. He dumps his whitey girlfriend, and tries to get back in touch with his cultural roots. He even starts dating an Indian girl, and eventually marries her. Naturally, she ends up having an affair with a greezy little French guy, which makes the boy's angst even worse.
So, where does the title come from? Well, Pops named the eldest boy Gogol, in honor of his favorite author. That causes the boy all sorts of additional mental problems through his life, especially when he has to endure high school literature classes. You see, the real Gogol was not only a painfully boring author, but he was a first class flake as well. Still, Pops thought the was some sort of good role model.
So, why did I dislike this film? Mostly because it was about as interesting as reading a Gogol novel. I guess it was sort of a cultural chick flick, and my wife found lots of good crying in it. About the only thing I could get emotional about was the awful realization that I shelled out the better part of 20 bucks to see it.
In short, not everyone who sees this movie is going to hate it. Some women who aren't rednecks or other brands of trailer trash might find something redeeming in it. Males will likely dislike it regardless of their stripe. The good news is that this movie is showing in so few theaters that most of you won't have to endure it, at least until it comes out on video. The positive aspect of that is that you can always clean the fridge out of beer while enduring it.
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