|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|
Previously: Pokemon 3:
At the risk of pissing off everyone under the age of 10 in America, this movie sucked so bad it almost comparatively eases the pain of electing a second guy named Bush to the presidency who is even a bigger moron than the first one. If this movie had introduced a new line of superheroes to Americas children, the associated action figures would be in the Kaybee clearance bin by next week.
Im probably not even revealing anything unknown to the movie going public. This film was released on Wednesday, and even the kids are already staying away in droves. I remember what the theaters were like for the first couple of weeks after the release of the first two Pokemon films. You couldnt take two steps without squishing some little yard ape. Today, you could have fire canons in the lobby of the theater without endangering anyone.
Suddenly Im starting to get some unique insights as to why every successive generation of young people in America seems generally more screwed up than the previous one. The answer has to lie in the movies we show them as children. I remember this movie I saw once about a nanny. She went around butting her nose into dysfunctional families, generally making the situation worse. She cost the head of the household his job, apparently slipped some sort of hallucinogenic substances into the food or drink of the children that caused them to have all sorts of fantasy adventures, used cheap parlor magic to further confuse the hell out of her charges, and zipped around with a flying umbrella. Now that is some twisted shit.
There was another one I remember about this lady that runs off into the woods and lives with seven little guys in a one room cottage. If that wasnt sick enough in itself, she eventually dumps the lot of them and runs off with some character named Prince Charming. Now, I cant say for sure, but I cant help but wonder if this isnt the same Prince Charming that also wooed Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and a few others. Maybe it was just a few successive generations of the Charming family, but since I never heard any stories about King Charming, Ive got to think it was one guy who got around a bit. So we teach our children about women running off to live with seven guys, and the ideal fantasy man of every little girls dreams is a guy that jumps at every pretty number in a skirt.
There was one of even more recent vintage about a mermaid that falls in love with a human, or the one about the pretty girl that falls in love with a hideous man-beast. Look, promiscuity is bad enough, but Disney et. al. are jumping the fence into the realms of miscogeny and beastiality. We have the heads of studios that we charge with the duty of entertaining our children dumping out subject matter like this, then we actually have the gall to get worked up when someone spots a tower in the background animation that looks like a penis or something. It rather seems to me we have better fish to fry here.
Up until now, I considered Pokemon to be one of the more innocent forays into the psychological destruction of our children. For the most part, its reasonably non-violent, at least by comparison to a lot of the superhero type fare. But the plot of the new Pokemon 3 was right out of the Twilight Zone. I mean that almost literally. This movie essentially was an extended Twilight Zone episode.
A little girl, Molly, inherits a large castle, following the disappearance of her mother, and father. The latter happened to be a famed Pokemon researcher. A strange group of new Pokemon, the unown, show up at her place one day, apparently the efforts of her fathers research. The new Pokemon, who appear to be refugees from a can of Japanese alphabet soup, have the power to create the little girls dream world. Thus the castle and surrounding city are transformed into a giant crystalline structure. A Pokemon named Entimon, or something like that, appears, and assumes the role of the little girls father. The girl wants a mother too, so Entimon goes out and steals her one. As luck would have it, it happens to be Ashs mother.
Naturally, the movie centers around the efforts of Ash and company to rescue his mother, while the little girls fantasies quash their efforts. The heroes are able to save the day only when they are ultimately able to persuade the little girl that the world of reality is superior to that of her fantasies. But the strange new Pokemon have taken on a life of their own, and Entimon must ultimately destroy them to save the day.
After the new Pokemon are vanquished, the little girls father reappears in some sort of basement vault. If you leave the film without watching the closing credits, you are probably going to assume that he dies down there too. But this is a kids movie, and you should have been patient enough to stick around. Not only do the disjointed closing scenes reveal that the father and little girl are reunited at a joyous picnic, but her lost mother is there as well. I dont have the first clue as to how the producers pulled her out of their asses, or even how she disappeared in the first place. I guess I have to remind myself it was a childrens movie, but very little of it made a damned bit of sense.
I really think that even most ardent Pokemon fans are going to be disappointed in this one. On the plus side, Brock was along this time, and he is always a welcome sight in Pokemon adventures. I personally like Brock. Hes pretty much of a shameless horndog. Team Rocket was as close to invisible in this movie as could possibly be pulled off without completely drawing the ire of Pokemon faithful. They were in the movie, but had so little to do that their presence seemed almost an afterthought. They didnt even recite the infamous Team Rocket Creed, which is pretty much a crime against nature. Im almost ashamed to admit that I have that little ditty committed to memory.
Whether the people who bring us Pokemon just cheaped it out and rested on their laurels, or the license is just running out of steam is hard to say. But if there is going to be a Pokemon 4, they are going to have to do better.
Okay, Im being cranky here, but I really am glad that there was a more innocent time in the history of filmmaking. If The Wizard Of Oz were remade in 2001, I suspect that Dorothy, upon learning that she isnt in Kansas anymore, would pass around the crack pipe and have a serious orgy with Glenda and the munchkins. The adventure would only deteriorate further when she met three interesting guys, each with a respective wish to complete their character. Forget about brains, a heart or courage. We are talking, respectively, a boatload of beer, nine inches and some serious cash.
Last Week: The Scorpion King:
How bad did this movie suck? How high is up? How big is infinity? How low will Vince McMahon sink to satifsy our culture's apparently insatiable appetite for crap? Its almost imponderable. The guess here is that even Hollywood, which hasn't seen an awful idea for a movie it hasn't loved lately, would have passed on this festival of cerebral strychnine had Vince McMahon not personally bankrolled it.
Anyone vaguely familiar with either professional wrestling or even contemporary culture knows at least vaguely who Vince McMahon is. As the now absolute monarch of the world of professional wrestling, he is to shlock entertainment what the Grand Canyon is to holes in the ground or France is to unrepentent body odor.
Once upon a time, McMahon was an ordinary, albeit rich physical specimen with a frame and muscle tone pretty similar to mine. Then he discovered the wonders of steroids, and his muscles sprouted like ragweed, while his testicles probably shriveled to the size of BBs. No problem. It all permitted him to not just watch his wrestlers from the sidelines, but to jump into the ring with them with a tiny measure of credibility.
Sort of. He had to allow himself to get his ass kicked pretty often in a make believe sort of way. Its going to get a lot worse for him now, after this cinematic equivalent to a two jumbo jet collision. People are going to be jumping into the ring to take him on every time he appears just out of sheer rage for having to sit through The Scorpion King. Hell, 20 years from now society will have either progressed or degenerated to the point where his grandchildren will be hunted down with bloodhounds.
Need I even say it? Before this movie was a hundred frames old, it sunk like....A ROCK. Yes, I said it. The Scorpion King stars one of McMahon's prize properties, the people's champion (and occasionally WWF champion) The Rock. By the way, his real name is Dwayne Johnson. Of all the useless pieces of information I can conjure at will, that has to rank among the most pathetic. Word is that The Rock is taking a brief hiatus from his wrestling career to concentrate on building his future in show business. I didn't know it took that long to fill out a Blockbuster application.
Even the Rock's most ardent fans are going to walk out of the theater shaking their heads and asking themselves, "What the hell was this man thinking?" I asked more or less the same question myself as I exited the theater, only it had to do with myself and my own movie choice. Its not that I wasn't pretty certain that this movie was going to be bad. I just had no idea that this movie was going to be bad beyond my capacities to adequately describe. If Roger Corman had made this movie, people would accuse him of taking a dive to make his career body of work look better by comparison.
Its not all that difficult to describe the plot of this movie. It opens with a huge fight. Then there is a brief interlude, 2 minutes or so, which permits the Rock to flex and raise his eyebrow. Then there is another huge fight, more flexing and eyebrow raising etc. Repeat this cycle about 8 times, and voila. The Scorpion King. A typical edition of Monday Night Raw has more plot depth than this film. At the very least, its more entertaining.
The movie has a few other notables who inexplicably throw their careers on the proverbial handgrenade to grow the wealth of the mighty McMahon. Michael Clark Duncan (the big guy from The Green Mile) is a hero turned villian turned hero again, in typical WWF fashion. Steven Brand plays the main bad guy, in his first and probably last significant movie role. And former teen model Kelly Hu plays the vixen turned good, although she is mostly in the movie to flash cleavage. Astonishingly enough, with all the cleavage available in Hollywood, McMahon opts for a female lead with practically none to show.
The movie was almost unbearably loud, but even at its audible heights, it could not match the thunder of feet stampeding out of the theater when the final credits rolled, and the theater doors were unlocked to release the necessarily captive audience. Note to Hollywood AND the airline industry: Do NOT show this movie as an inflight attraction, lest skyscrapers start raining down like April snow in Denver.
Even the special effects in this film were cheesy. A swarm of digitally created fire ants produced more humor than uneasiness. Similarly, some computer animated cobras looked like firehoses with fangs. The Rock didn't even turn into a silly scorpion as he did when he first introduced the character in The Mummy Returns. Believe it or not, that was almost a disappointment.
If you haven't seen the second Mummy movie, you might leave the theater wondering why this film was titled The Scorpion King. Scorpions are pretty much a no-show in the film, leading me to believe that the species may be more intelligent than previously thought. No, the movie didn't have much to do with scorpions, or time to explain anything. It might just has easily been entitled The Rock Dons A Loincloth And Kicks Some Ass. But what magnificent acting range old Rocky displayed in the film. He ranged from pissed off to pretty pissed off.
I want to add a word of caution to parents here too. You should refuse to allow children to see this movie purely on the grounds that it might suck their brains right out of their ears. But on a more tangible level, the movie is extremely violent although not particulary gory. The mostly pointless violence should be sufficient in itself to pass on this one as entertainment for the fry.
Last Week: Bend It Like Beckham:
The saddest thing about this movie is that it doesn't have chance one of finding an audience in the United States, despite its great success in Britian. It has no shot. No way, no how, not now. Its really a shame too, because this movie deserves a good box office, and if people would go see it, most of them would enjoy it.
Alas, its saddled with more strikes against it than the Detroit Tigers batting order. The most serious one is that its plot revolves around soccer. There isn't a more serious kiss of death any movie could be forced to overcome here in America. You'd do better trying to market a movie about knitting or synchronized swimming.
Americans hate soccer. Hell, I hate soccer. I'm never much impressed by the one or two emails I invariably get when I write something about soccer from the couple of people who actually watch it. I know its the most popular sport in the world, but its still boring. We Americans don't just hate it. We hate it so much that in our typical vindictive fashion, we invented a sport we like and called it "football" which is what most of the rest of the world calls the game. Then we saddled soccer with a name that even sounds unappealing.
The second problem this film has is that no one is going to figure out who it will appeal to by watching the previews. A movie about women's sports isn't going to appeal to men unless there is some prospect that they are going to get naked, and they don't. Women by in large aren't going to be interested in a movie about women's sports either. But there is a love story component to this movie that would make it an appealing chick flick. Sadly, the people marketing it didn't figure out that American audiences might be attracted by that.
Finally, this is a movie about a different culture. Americans don't give a crap about foriegn cultures, especially lately. The only vague interest we seem to have is directly related to the likelyhood we might have of drawing a target on them sometime in the near future. Since we don't have any immediate plans of invading the Indian neighborhoods of London anytime soon...at least none that have been announced yet, this film isn't going to draw much interest.
Put all of this together, and it will be harder for this movie to find an audience on these shores than its been for W to locate Osama Bin Laden. I assume that you all still remember him. He is the other author of all evil: The 6'5" Arab on dialysis we can't find. I'm sure you at least vaguely recall the name. About once a week, somebody is reporting that we may be within hours of capturing him.
Paminder Nagra, who hasn't previously appeared in any film most of you have likely seen, stars as Jess, a young Indian girl whose dream is to play soccer. Unfortunately, her parents want her to go to a university, get a little education, and an Indian man. Her culture and her parents forbid her from actively chasing her dream. So she has to do it covertly.
Jess is befriended by Jules, a British girl played by Keira Knightly. She is a Winona Ryder look-alike complete with the dietary habits. Her most recent performance of memory was in Star Wars Episode 1, although you will be seeing her in a couple of major studio releases in the next few months. Jules also has the dream of playing soccer professionally, but she is troubled by an unsupportive mother and a hen-pecked father.
The friendship of the two girls is strained by a difficult love triangle that develops between the two of them and their coach. Both girls also have to deal with the struggles of unsupportive families, and Jess's cultural dilemnas. Further complicating matters is the impending marriage of Jess's sister, which compromises her ability to play on Jule's team.
The film has a lot of good comedic material, some poignant moments drawn from the troubled friendship of Jess and Jules, and interesting insights into the cultural mores of the British-Indian population. Its a very worthwhile two hours in the movie house, and we haven't reported on a lot of those recently. See this movie if you can.
Now a couple of other matters interested me this week. First, a couple of days ago, several of the news networks and most major newspapers around the country ran a major story that the U.S. Marines believed that they had discovered weapons grade plutonium in an Iraqi power plant. Turns out that the material was normal radioactive waste generated by that plant. I haven't seen that noted yet on any of the networks. The local paper reported it in a tiny, one paragraph snipet buried at the bottom corner of page 18.
Liberal media my ass. I'm not sure whether I am personally more worried these days about bringing our soldiers home from Iraq, or getting them off of Fox News et al. Its easier to find a retired general on the network news these days than it is to find a Mormon in Provo.
Then there was the news image of the week: That big statue of Sadam being pulled down. I haven't watched very much war coverage, but I did watch that with fascination. First, that big dude went after the base with a sledge hammer. Aside from providing an interesting perspective that the people of Baghdad, at least, weren't terribly underfed, I had a powerful reaction to that scene. I was thinking, "Dude, you are a BIG man, but if the networks are going to cover you bringing down that statue with a sledge hammer, I'm going to need a hell of a lot more popcorn."
Finally they decided to pull it down with the help of American soldiers and a rope. Pardon my weird world view here folks, but stop to think about this a minute. We are invading Iraq with the most potent firepower ever assembled in world history. A few hundred billion bucks are being shot on this adventure. We are invading a country that supposedly has weapons of mass destruction tucked under the mattress of everyone in Iraq. And there we were, pulling down a statue with a rope. Couldn't anybody have found a stick of dynamite?
Last Week: Allegro Non Troppo:
Way back in the 40's the folks at Disney Studios were enjoying a lot of success with animated movies, but they were growing somewhat concerned that their creations were being pigeon holed as strictly children's entertainment. They wanted their work to be appreciated as an artform worthy of adult attention as well, so they set out to create something that would have an appeal beyond family fare.
What they came up with was truly a magnificent piece of filmmaking that has become one of the true classics in the genre. It was Fantasia, a film that set short animated pieces to some of the world's most beloved classical music. The Disney people didn't want to entirely take the work away from children, so Mickey Mouse starred in one of the segments. But most of the others had were clearly more intended to appeal to adults.
A littel more than five decades later the Disney people apparently wanted to prove that they could still create that kind of classic movie magic, which led to the creation of Fantasia 2. About all they proved was that the artform was in a state of decline. The sequel had its moments to be sure, but on the whole, it was nowhere near the standard of the original, and Disney Studios might have been well advised to have left well enough alone.
Fantasia 2 wasn't the only effort at creating something in the spirit of the original. Back in 1976 there was an Italian version called Allegro Non Troppo, created by Bruno Bozzetto. A lot of critics dismissed this version as a cheap parody of the original, but this film has proved a lot more enduring than expected by late 70's critics. It has developed a pretty strong cult following on both the European and North American continents, and while probably not quite as visually powerful as Fantasia, it matches and often exceeds it in emotional, if not artistic power.
Allegro non Troppo contains seven animated segments, interspersed between live segments in Italian with English subtitles. The live segments are amusing for awhile, but deteriorate into more of an annoyance than an enhancement by the end, particularly after a few viewings. But this film is really about the animated segments, and therein lies some true treasures.
The opening animated segment is actually probably the weakest, although it ultimately invokes a reasonably strong emotional appeal. Set to Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of Faun, the segment explores the loneliness and isolation of an unattractive little character striving for love. A lot of erotic imagery is laced through the work, making the film rather inappropriate for children from the outset. But this film really wasn't intended for children.
The second animates segment is set to a movement from Dvorak's second, and is the most humorous in the film. It follows the misadventures of a character who strives for individualism, only to be imitated annoyingly by his neighbors. It ends up as a rather interesting farce on human attraction to facism.
That is followed by the segment most people tend to remember most vividly from the film. Set to Ravel's Bolero, somewhat before Bo Derek redefined the tune in a most unfortunate manner, this segment tells an amusing story of the evolution of life, as set into motion by the passengers of a spaceship who carelessly leave behind a bottle of soda. Both amusing and ultimately thought provoking, contains imagery that is difficult to forget.
Overall, the most powerful animated segment is set to Sibelius' Valse Triste. This haunting short entitled Feline Fantasies is far and away the most stirring. It tells the story of a cat in an abandoned and wrecked building, as it wanders among the rubble, and recalls moments of a past, happier, warmer and more comfortable life. Its a segment guaranteed to inspire a tear or two.
The remaining segments in the film are less notable. A segment set to a movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons is cute and funny, but not particulary well drawn or memborable. The other muscial segment, set to Stravinsky's Firebird tells an alternate story of Adam and Eve. While some of the opening animation is clever, but the story tends to lapse into tedium. The closing animated segment is clever and original.
The DVD version of this film is digitally restored, and contains a stereo sound track for the first time. There are also some other original short films by Bozzetto on the DVD release, well worth attention. If you have never seen Allegro non Troppo and are a fan of animated films, this is certainly worth a look. But be advised that this is essentially an adult film and while not explicit, it contains some imagery and themes that are not really appropriate for children.
Last Week: Monster In-Law:
Its probably a good thing that Razzie ballots won't be mailed out for another 7 months, or mine might already be filled out, stamped and awaiting pickup in the local mailbox. Close to 40 years ago, Jane Fonda pissed off half the people in America when she visited Hanoi in protest of an unpopular war. That made a lot of people angry. Curiously, the people who got the maddest were the ones that were austensibly fighting for her right to do something like that. Consistancy in thought has never been a hallmark of American character.
Now, rapidly aging and deteriorating Jane has created the opportunity to get pretty much everyone else mad at her, just by making one of the lamest comedies to hit the silver screen since last week. Monster In-Law was so formulated and predictable that a three year old sitting near us who had never been to a movie before was shouting out plot points. His infant sister spent most of the movie crying, which was probably closer to the reaction everyone else in the theater was feeling.
Our story starts with a glimpse into the life of our lady hero Charlie (J-Lo) as she goes about her daily life doing about 10 different jobs in Southern California. She is a dog walker, doctor's office receptionist, bank clerk and caterer's assistant. I'm not sure how to break this to the people who write movies and make a passable living, but you can't pay the rent in SoCal trying to earn a living like that without about 10 roommates.
Charlie has her own apartment, but it is frequented by her non-threatening gay friend Remy (Adam Scott). I think that he was thrown in purely to advance the stereotype that every single female in SoCal has a plutonic gay male friend, and to further insure that no one in the blue states would go see this movie. That, of course, is an unlikely proposition thanks to the presence of Fonda.
One day, while out walking the dogs on the beach, she sees a handsome man jogging by. She sees him again in a nearby coffee shop. Then she runs into him again at a party where she is helping out with catering duties. It turns out that he is a young, talented doctor named Kevin (Michael Vartan). He apparently makes a kijillion dollars a year, but can't afford a razor.
Kevin is immediately smitten with Charlie, and the two begin to see each other. Meanwhile, Kevin's mother, who is some sort of cross between Barbara Walters and Sally Jesse Raphael, has a melt down during one of her shows after she learns that she is being replaced by a younger woman. That forces her to be institutionalized for a couple of months, while the relationship between Kevin and Charlie blossoms.
Once Viola (played by either Jane Fonda, or Peter England in Freddy Kruger outfit or both) is released from the loony-bin, Kevin introduces her to Charlie. Naturally, Viola doesn't think that Charlie is good enough for Kevin, so she sets about making Charlie's life miserable, and breaking the two of them up. Little does she realize that Charlie is both resolute and strong, so an overpowering battle of wills erupts between them.
All of the comedy in this film stems from two sources. First, there is the conflict between Charlie and Viola, which leads to unspeakable assaults on each other. Actually this might provide some attraction for folks in the blue states, as they get to see not only Jane Fonda being booted around, but plenty of shots on Hispanic J-Lo as well. Add in the second comedic foil, Viola's personal assistant, Ruby (Wanda Sykes). She does a lot of wisecracking in the movie, but her main job is to be black and servile to Viola. I'm sure that will please the neo-cons too.
It won't spoil the ending to tell you that everything turns out well, Viola and Charlie find friendship, and Keving and Charlie find matrimonial bliss. The ending isn't spoiled because we know that is going to happen the moment we walk into the theater. If charlie got fed up with Viola and just walked away from the relationship, we'd know that this was all more like real life than the movies, then we wouldn't have much of a story.
Last Week: The (F)Lake House:
I spent three weeks believing that the two principle characters in Just My Luck were the two stupidest people in cinematic history. But the one thing that you can count on when Hollywood is involved is that they will not let something like that stand for very long.
This is a story about Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) and Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) who happen to live in the same lake house. But Kate lives there in 2006, and Alex lives there in 2004. Through some weird miracle of temporal confluence, the two discover that they can communicate with each other via a mailbox outside the house.
Predictably, the two fall in love and spend a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves because they want to meet, but are seperated by time. Since its two years rather than 50, that doesn't really seem like a remarkably big problem, but the two of them fail miserably to figure out how to get together.
Even more curious is the fact that the unique opportunity of the circumstance doesn't seem to dawn upon either one of them. Obviously, she could feed him all sorts of incredibly valuable information about stock market trends, the outcome of sporting events etc. That could make the two of them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Instead, they prefer to obsess on how miserable they are about being seperated in time by 24 lousy months.
Actually, there is a complication to the whole matter which is tossed into the plot in the first 10 minutes or so of the film. It makes the ending so incredibly obvious to anyone who is actually paying attention that I'm still wondering why I didn't just leave at that point and spend a more interesting evening doing something like, oh...picking toe jam.
Instead, I had to suffer through another brutally dull 100 minutes of Keanu Reeves typical wooden performance, and whatever that is that Sandra Bullock does on the screen. I wouldn't go so far as to call it acting. But the script of this film is faithful to all Bullock movies. In this story, she plays a doctor who, as usual, never has to work. Just once, I want to see Bullock portray a character who actually has to go earn her paycheck.
So there I sat in the theater, having already deduced the ending just a couple of minutes into the film, and bringing out of my preset mental notes on how much longer I was going to have to wait for the ending I already knew was coming. Then the film tossed its only surprise at us. Christopher Plummer made an appearance as Alex's dad. I guess he was the "Hey world, I'm still alive!" ex-celebrity of the week.
There are some plot holes in the film that you could sail an ocean liner through, but the problem is, that I'd have to reveal a critical plotpoint that would destroy the plot altogether for anyone who plans to see it. Suffice it to say that at a critical juncture in the lives of both Kate and Alex, so to speak, Kate evidently completely fails to recognize a guy that she played some serious tonsil hockey with one evening during a birthday party. Its no wonder that these two were too stupid to take advantage of their situation for significant financial gain.
There was a plotpoint in this movie I couldn't quite figure out though. Somehow, the two own the same dog. And its not just any dog...its the butt ugliest dog in the history of the universe. I'm telling you, if you owned a dog that ugly, you'd probably shave its butt and teach it to walk backwards. But Kate and Alex both love him.
Somehow or another, the dog can travel pretty freely between the two times. It occured to me that the ability created a second opportunity for the two to communicate, aside from the mailbox. But it never dawned on either of them to tie messages to his collar and just say, "hey Ugly! Go take this to Alex/Kate." They never did that, even once.
Something else disappointed me too..Since Alex lived in 2004, which was a leap year, and Kate lived in 2006, which wasn't, I wanted to see what would happen if Alex tried to send Kate a message on February 29. I suppose it probably would have created a temporal distortion that would have ripped the fabric of space and time apart, and the movie might have ended a lot sooner. I wouldn't have minded that much.
When the movie reached its incredibly well telegraphed conclusion, I was rather astonished that some members of the audience actually applauded! I sat there thinking, did you people actually watch this film? Didn't you notice that wildly out of context scene 100 minutes ago, and figure out what was coming? Was this actually a surprise to you? Sometimes, I see people do stupid things and I wonder why...but most of the time, I don't anymore.
Previously: Across the Universe:
It has been about 30 years since someone came up with the retarded idea of spinning a bunch of completely unrelated Beatles songs into a musical. After seeing the second effort, it still seems like a terribly crappy idea. It's not like Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band and Across the Universe can be reasonably compared. About the only thing they have in common is that they both suck.
The writers of Across the Universe had better drugs, and a smaller budget. Instead of weaving a fairy tale, they endeavored to send a valentine to the 60's. Alas, it arrived postage due, and clueless as to it's subject. I admittedly haven't bothered to research who the writers of this film were, but the guess is that none of them were actually around during the celebrated decade. Maybe you don't have to have gone into space to write a science fiction novel, but it sure helps if you know your butt from a spaceship.
The Beatles once crooned, "All you need is love." They were wrong. A good script helps too. This film didn't have one. Maybe most of the audience didn't really notice. My wife and I were the oldest people in a packed theater by about 30 years. I was actually amazed that this movie drew such an enthusiastic response from a group of people who's parents were probably too young to remember the Beatles.
Actually, that target audience might explain a lot. If ever a film was made for the MTV generation, it was this one. The story was a series of jumbled events, designed for people with attention spans of 3 minutes or less. Meanwhile, a group of largely unknown actors dragged out some of the Beatles biggest hits, and beat them within an inch of their lives. Michael Vick wasn't this brutal to his dogs.
At least Sgt. Pepper cast popular musicians who could mostly carry a tune. Unfortunately, they proved to be worse actors than the actors in this film were singers. But the worst moments in this film came when the creators were trying to portray some 60esque drug inspired vision. Those scenes provided to be some of the stupidest moments put on celluloid since the genuine 60's drug movie Skidoo.
Okay, you might ask. What is this movie about? It's about 98 minutes of misery. A young British man named Jude (Jim Sturgess) travels to the United States to meet his father, a WWII vet who evidently knocked up his mom then left her with ole Jude in the oven. Upon arriving in the U.S., Jude meets a Princeton student named Max (Joe Anderson). Max almost immediately drops out of college, and the pair move to New York City, where they settle down to a bohemian existance. Curiously, neither of them have any visible means of support.
Max has a beautiful sister named Lucy (Evan Rachael Wood) who's boyfriend has just been killed in Vietnam. She moves in with Max and Jude and naturally, she snags Jude during the height of her dead boyfriend angst. Immediately, the two initiate wild monkey sex as often as possible.
But the relationship becomes strained when Lucy gets deeply involved in the anti-war movement, and Jude displays a remarkable ability to avoid getting deeply involved in anything. Lucy's passions and Jude's apathy rip the two apart. I'd have guessed his singing would have brought the pair to a bad ending much earlier in the movie, but musicals aren't much like real life.
Meanwhile, since Max drops out of Princeton, he gets one of those "Greetings from the President of the United States" letters, and they ship his butt off to Vietnam. Evidently he was the only teenager in the U.S. during the 60's that didn't figure out that college kept you out of Vietnam. Max wasn't the brightest star in the sky to say the least. Somehow, he is either smart enough or lucky enough to survive. We didn't care much either way.
There isn't much here to recommend the movie. It isn't all that interesting, several scenes seem to be added for no other reason than to increase the running time, or simply introduce another out of context Beatles' number in an entirely irrelevant scene. There is some nudity, suggestions of drug use, and a mostly indeciperable plot. If you really want to hear some Beatles, I suggest that you just dig into the CD collection. This movie should be loaded into a rocket and launched, well, the title says it all.
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