Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sleepy, Babysitting, Papers



In other news, Gerard Butler, Liam Neeson, Tom Hardy, Jason Statham and Gary Oldman are in talks or something even vaguer than talks to star some remake of an old TV show called The Professionals.

In a related story, I just wet myself

That's all. Go away. I'm reviewing Frost/Nixon tomorrow cuz I'm relevant like that.

...Ok, here's a picture I drew of and for my friend Rachael, who was making this face all throughout class everytime this one idiot kept rambling about nothing:

RACHAEL IS UNIMPRESSED BY YOUR RAMBLY HIPPIE BULLSHIT

now leave this place!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cedar Rapids (It's Like The Hangover But Not)

Hey guys, things are hoppin' on that sidebar over yonder. Only three followers away from a hundred!!! And a mere ONE away from two hundred followers on Facebook!! (I know it says 200 there now, but on the actual fan page it says 199, I have no idea why that is) and the NetworkedBlogs thingy keeps switching between 99 and 100 so ya know, exciting times....oh who am I kidding? I am nothing if not a whore for attention.

*ahem*

BUG YOUR FRIENDS, ANNOY YOUR FAMILY AND TRAWL THE BLOGOSPHERE FOR RECRUITMENT INTO THE SUGARY CYNICISM FANDOM. I AM SO CLOSE TO A HUNDRED I CAN TASTE IT. IT TASTES LIKE PASTA. ALTHOUGH THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE PASTA I HAD EARLIER. WHO CAN SAY? (ALSO ONLY ONE MORE PERSON IS NEEDED FOR THE FACEBOOK FAN PAGE SO IF YOU'VE BEEN HOLDIN' OUT, NOW'S THE TIME, JUST SAYIN)



So...Cedar Rapids?

So I really think I have this whole "movie poster as an awkward transitional topic" thing down pat

So yeah, you know it's not hard to make a good comedy. Make some good characters, put them in silly situations, watch them react, etc. The issue is that generally the characters are not well-written, the story is iffy, and so on, so in order to make with the funny, the situation has to be wildly over the top to compensate. Like in The Hangover.

When in doubt, strip Ken Jeong naked and stuff him in a trunk. Comedy GOLD.

And don't get me wrong, I liked The Hangover and it was funny, but you can really only watch it once. The novelty is in the insane situations the characters find themselves in and once the surprise of "ohmygod what could happen next?" wears off, well, there's not much point in continuing forward.

So this is where Cedar Rapids is different. It plucks Ed Helms from The Hangover, recasts him as Tim Lippe, incredibly naive and guileless insurance salesman from Generic Small Town, Wisconsin and plops him in what would appear to be the uncompromisingly dull situation of an insurance conference at the Cedar Rapids Hotel.

"I'm certain nothing wacky will arise from this scenario"

Of course, the "how" he got there is fairly bizarre: The senior manager dude who usually goes to the insurance conference dies from auto-erotic asphyxiation, leaving Tim's boss, the Stapler Guy from Office Space, no choice but to send Tim to the conference to try to win the coveted Two Diamond Award and clear away the unwanted stench of masturbatory suicide from the company name.

So there's that.

Anyway, Stapler Guy gives Tim two very important instructions. One: make the best impression possible on the conference president, Red Foreman from That Seventies Show:

He awards extra points to anyone who calls his son a dumbass

and two, stay the hell away from Dean Ziegler, played by John C. Reilly.

He has been known to sing "Mr. Cellophane" at anyone who gets too close (oh just look it up)

Anywhoo, that one flies out the window when sheltered little Tim gets Dean as a roommate, along with the adorably straight-laced Ronald Wilkes, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr. Almost instantly, the wildly crass, foul-mouthed Dean commences in corrupting Tim, getting him to drink *gasp* alcohol! And *oh my stars* frolicking in the hotel pool after hours! All to the chagrin of President Eric Foreman's Dad, who wants to make the insurance conference all squeaky clean and Jesus-like. Oh and Anne Heche is there too, as Joan Ostrowski-Fox, better known as O-Fox. Joan's sweet but just a little too peppy and "one of the guys" cuz she's all excited to not be at home with her overbearing husband. So Dean, Ronald, Joan and Tim engage in such antics as the ones mentioned above, and slightly more, such as rescuing Tim from a house party he goes to with a hooker where he does weed for the first time.

They also do this. I wanna do this.

So basically, there's no tigers or Mike Tyson so for it to be funny, a lot is riding on the characters. Ed Helms proves he has what it takes to be a leading man with Tim. He's small-town and painfully oblivious to things, like that the hooker chick is in fact a hooker. And also his only adult relationship is with his former elementary school teacher (played by a brief but so funny Sigourney Weaver). There are sometimes when he's so stupid it stretches credulity, but others, like when he explains why he decided to be an insurance salesman, that are genuine and sweet.

And that's kind of how the movie is. It's not all that raunchy, mostly just in the language (everything John C. Reilly says is AMAZING), and the characters feel like real people, Joan just wants to escape, Dean acts out partially to hide his hurt at his wife's divorce from him, and Ronald, well, Ronald's just adorable. And he does a pretty convincing Omar from HBO's The Wire:



Anyway, there's a whole subplot about the Two Diamond Award and whatnot but that's not important. Here's a good comedy with actual rewatch value that puts it's strengths not in the over-the-top situations, but the characters in them. Everyone pulls their weight humor-wise, though I always love John C. Reilly in whatever he does, and Anne Heche is almost good enough to make you forget she once claimed to be a lesbian alien named Celestia. Almost.

It's not laugh-out-loud-oh-sweet-jesus-I-peed, but you'll be smiling throughout and it's nice to when someone proves you don't have to tackled by a naked Asian man to be funny. Not that it hurts. Cedar Rapids insures three and a half catapults out of five.

This is Sugary Cynic, who remains steadfastly unimpressed by The Hangover 2 trailer. 'Night!

(When Tim opens his hotel room door and Ronald is standing there)

Tim: (on the phone with his girlfriend) "There's an Afro-American man standing in front of me"

Macy: "What's he doing?"

Tim: "He's...smiling at me. I think he's friendly!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

When The Castle Stops Moving

If you don't mind (and if you do, well that's just too bad), I'd like to take a break from bitching about thesis and snarking about movies to mourn the passing of a legend of Fantasy writer who greatly influenced both my reading material and my career choice as a kid.

Diana Wynne Jones

Author of a bajillion fantasy stories for kids, her more famous works include the Crestomanci series, the Dark Lord of Derkholm, and the Howl's Moving Castle series.

That's right, Miyazaki fans. No this:



Without this:



Jones's books were always full of likable characters, adventures, magic and suitable evil villains. What I always liked best about them were two things: first, that they never talked down to their reader. Jones may have been writing books primarily meant for kids but she talked to them, well like kids, but not like they were stupid or needed to have their hand held or something. She didn't patronize. Bad things happened, characters died, complex issues arose and such. For tiny little bookworm me, it was a refreshing alternative.

But none of her books had *gasp* the perfect boy!

The second thing I loved about her books were the characters. They may have been magicians and witches and people swept up in high magic and whatnot, but they were always very, I think "normal" is the word I'm looking for. They were very sensible Brits. Like, "just because there's all this whimsy and somesuch doesn't mean we all have to go to pieces. Let's magic up some tea or something" they were relatable and realistic. Just because Howl was an all-powerful sorcerer didn't mean he couldn't also be a whiny brat and Sophie may have been swept up in all kinds of magical craziness but she remains a strong, down-to-earth character who, unlike a lot of characters in fantasy novels, retains her frickin common sense. Her novel the Dark Lord of Derkholm was all about how fantasy people were pretty much regular and put on "show tours" for us tourist normies. She played with a lot of fantasy cliches, poking fun and playing up at the same time. She could be wickedly funny and created fantastic, inventive worlds.

Diana Wynne Jones made me love fantasy, and realize that I wanted to create worlds and characters that people would love and come back to again and again like I did to hers. I owe a lot of what I read and write even now to her books that I read in my formative years and it is for that and the knowledge that there will be no more new worlds to see or new adventures for Howl and Sophie that I mourn her passing.

"If you take myth and folklore, and these things that speak in symbols, they can be interpreted in so many ways that although the actual image is clear enough, the interpretation is infinitely blurred, a sort of enormous rainbow of every possible colour you could imagine." -Diana Wynne Jones

Red Racism and the Entertainment Industry

It was last Thanksgiving when I realized just how bothered I was by latent racism against Native Americans, or indigenous cultures as a whole.

Here I was, good lil’ CleverEuphemism, sitting in a bar the Monday before Thanksgiving watching a bunch of white, middle-class 30-somethings dressed up in feather headdresses playing Indian and doing shots. It irked me. Thinking back on it, it still does. But, at the time I knew I shouldn’t blame them. Rather, my feather donning bar-mates were just symptomatic of a ubiquitous stereotype that has overtaken our entertainment industry.

I guess they learn to do it from an early age nowadays.

Look, I am not going to stand on a soapbox and say that white people or the culture industry are evil or anything like that, that is not the point. But rather, I would like to hold a mirror up to an issue that has become so ubiquitous that it is hard to even see or acknowledge anymore unless you are looking for it.

So, as many-a-fan of this blog know, SugaryCynic and I recently took a trip to Disney World and one of the attractions we partook in was The American Adventure which can be found in Epcot.

Note the Indian in the center of the poster for the attraction

So this attraction is a half-hour show that covers the American experience from 1776 to the present through the eyes of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, ‘cause why not? (I am sure they were BFFs back in the day, oh wait…. ) Anyway, given that fact that history spanning from 1776 to the present contains Indians and the poster features a Native in the center of the poster I thought to myself “well, I guess this will touch on some tough times, good for Disney.” So, how much time was devoted to the plight of Indians in this half hour of American history?.... About 15 seconds. No, really, I swear. Basically the Indian “chief” on the poster pops onto the stage by himself and says something along the lines of “My people are all gone, we now belong to history, we will fight no more.”

Quite really. REALLY, REALLY, FUCKING REALLY.

I was a bit taken aback by all of this. I mean, there were a few things wrong with what this unnamed, unsourced speaker and quote conveyed. For one, I don’t think it all went down quite that way. But beyond that, uhhh… INDIANS KIND OF STILL EXIST. There is this weird limbo Americans do when it comes to Native Americans. They want to honor their culture. We do this in our culture by pushing it in our schools, our movies, etc. The problem is, is that these people still walk among us. Hell, just look at sports. We name our teams after Trojans, Vikings, Spartans, and… Indians (or Redskins). You know the name that sticks out? THE ONE WHO HASN’T BEEN A CULTURE THAT CEASED TO EXIST ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS AGO! But hey, why let that stop us?

At least he’s happy, ‘cause you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Obviously not such a blantant logo would be used nowadays by any rational person (not that the current Cleveland Indians logo is much better). And in fact, for the most part, American culture is sympathetic towards native Americans. But generally most sympathetic attempts tend to be reductive and undercuts any good will it tries to pass off. Case in point: Avatar.

It’s Pocahontas meets Dances With Wolves.

The one thing I love about this poster in particular is that it conveys the entire movie in one frame. White people can play Indian just fine, it is the Indians, oh excuse me… Na’vi who are stuck being tree jumpers (Yes Na’vi… Native Americans… if only it was only a little more obvious. Fuck, I’m still trying to figure out what unobtanium is supposed to be). The Na’vi are the perfect stand in for Natives. They are peaceful people who run around in drabs and talk to nature. Yeah, you know that metaphor of how they literally connect to everything around them by their hair? How much more thinly veiled could James Cameron be? And of course by the end we get the same old story of white people are better at being X culture than people of that actual culture are. Either it be crippled soldier white guy being a better Na’vi than the Na’vi, or super scientologist being the best samurai ever, it is old and yet ubiquitous, and yet the movie going public swallows it hook line and sinker, really across the board.

At least with Avatar we got to experience it in 3-D, so there is a whole new dimension of reductionism.

I will never forget sitting in the theatre with my girlfriend of the time when Avatar ended and the credits started to roll and we both began to laugh. We were both laughing for the same reason. We had studied film, and both were in the same “Native Americans in Pop Culture” seminar and Avatar hit and rammed through every cultural road block possible. But it was at that same exact moment that our laughter was accompanied by the comments of two teens in front of us:

Teen 1: Holy shit, that was awesome. If that doesn’t with the Oscar then it will be a joke.

Teen 2: Yeah, totally. Best movie of the year, hands down.

That is the moment the laughter stopped and I serious faced.

I do not believe James Cameron meant any harm, I really don’t. In fact, I think he is a victim of sorts. He fell into the same trap as countless other directors and entertainment producers. But, by doing that he just added to the Pocahontas-myth of reductionism of Native Americans. And when something like this has been going on for five –plus decades, it is easy to do that.

All the old Western genre films are the worst. But even things like Disney’s Pocahontas get things so wrong it is appalling. If you ever want to better your knowledge, you would be well rewarded to read John Rolfe’s diary about meeting Pocahontas and all of that. For it is him, and not John Smith, who has kids with her and stuff. To be fair, Disney does get that right… eventually, in Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World (get it, ‘cause it’s all like new to her, like her world is new to the English).

On the other hand, one contemporary movie that purposely goes out of its way to paint Native Americans as poorly as possible is Apocalypto.

Mel Gibson make a racially insensitive film? Why I never…. (well at least it wasn’t about Jews)

Now, did you catch that bit at the bottom of the poster? “No one can outrun their destiny.” What could this possibly mean? Well, you pair that quote with the opening epigraph of the film: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within – William Durant,” and suddenly you realize, yeah, that Native on the poster, and all of the others in the film are probably fucked.

In fact, what the film basically boils down to is Mel Gibson showing what he perceives to be a god-less, blood lusting culture that has something coming to it. And what is coming to it? Well, the film ends with the shot of Spanish ships landing on the coasts of South America. Oh, but don’t feel too bad for the Natives as they run back into the woods, they won’t outrun their “destiny.” And don’t blame the Spanish for what they are about to do once the credits start, because they aren’t conquering a worthwhile culture, for it is apparently just taking over where a failed and crumbling culture once stood. Yes, Mel Gibson basically makes the case that what happened to Indigenous people in the Western world was quite fine. And he does it in record time… about 10 seconds into Apocalypto.

But hey, at least the first thing they did when they got off the boat is erect a cross right on the coast

In summation, I don’t think finger pointing, or judging works one by one is all that beneficial. Rather what I think is important is that we all realize what is really being conveyed in our entertainment, especially when it comes to issues that are so ubiquitous we sometimes lose sight of it. And of course this is not just limited to appropriating Native culture (there is a reason 90% of villains in the 80s were Russian, and nowadays they are middle eastern). But the reductionism needs to be examined and looked at.

Now if you are interested in some films done by indigenous directors, since many people don’t realize an indigenous film industry exists I would recommend any of the following: Skins (the Chris Eyre film), Smoke Signals, Whale Rider, The Business of Fancy Dancing, and Harlod of Orange


They're savages! Savages!
Barely even human
Savages! Savages!

Drive them from our shore!
They're not like you and me
Which means they must be evil
We must sound the drums of war!
They're savages! Savages!
Dirty redskin devils!
Now we sound the drums of war!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who Isn't Tyler Durden These Days?

Everything still sucks but now I'm ten or so pages away from being done with my first draft of thesis. :O I know.

In the meantime, I saw two movies but don't have time to talk about them just yet. Cuz they are worth talking about. To ease the pain off waiting, here's an absolutely magical video. Why is it magical? Because it sets Fight Club to Britney Spears's song Circus, and it works!



Holy shit.


Clever Euphemism: "I think I might have pink eye"

Me: "Ew"

Clever Euphemism: "It's cool, I got these eye-drops from Walgreens, they're, whaddya callit, homo-therapy"

Me: "...homo-therapy?"

(He produces the box)

Me: (reading) "homeopathic."

Clever Euphemism: "Yes. That."

Me: "...idiot"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

People Have Been Saying Funny Things Again

March has been kind of a crappy month of updates, hasn't it? Well look forward to more of the same! :D

Thesis: Ruining my life since August 2010.



In the meantime, people, some of them me, have been being quotable again:

(In my 21st Century Fiction class, after this one obnoxious girl complained that the ending to the rather amazing book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was sentimental and sad and all she could feel for the characters was pity and this annoyed her. A girl two seats down from her raised her hand next)

Awesome Other girl: "I'm sorry this book made you feel an emotion and you hate it for that but...(etc)"


(In the barren hell that is my Economics and Literature class, we were learning about Total Utility Increase. In order to make us get it, the professor was trying to make it simple...)

Prof: "It's like, what's the metaphor that's always used, 'the one thing you can give away without losing any yourself?'"

Ashley: "Fire?"

Prof: "....I was looking for 'love' but I guess 'fire' works too"


(A story our professor told us about another professor who used to teach here)

Prof: "And she realized that her little daughter was getting dangerously smart when she was on a ladder one day and her daughter was walking by. She said 'don't walk under the ladder, it's bad luck!' and her kid just stared at her and said '...for whom?'"




(And finally, as I attempted to procrastinate on a thesis chapter, I saw that Clever Euphemism was logged in to Google Chat but idle and proceeded to spam his wall)


Sugary Cynic: boo!
whoooooo
i are a ghoooooost
whoooooo
and such
I
AM
SPAMMING
YOUR
CHAT
IN PROCRASTINATION
MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
ha
how many roads
must a man walk down
before you can call him a man?
the answer my friend
is blowin in the wind
the answer
is blowin
in the wind
nooooobooody knooooows the trouble i seeeeen
noboooooody knooooows my sorrooooows
noooboooody knooooows
the trouble i seeeeen
nobooody knooooows but JESUS
la cucaracha
la cucaracha
*something something in spanish
la cucarach
la cucracha
*more things in spanish!
OLE
i hope you have learned a very valuable lesson
namely not to leave your thingy in idle
when I am bored
and avoiding work
my only wish is to see your facial expression as you scroll thru the madness
it'll be all like
:O
and then >:O
and then D:
and eventually :{
i dont know what that last one is
but it aint good
her name was lola
she was a showgirl
um she did stuff
at the copa
COPACABANA
THE HOTTEST SPOT NORTH OF HAVANA!
music and passion were always in fashion
oh Barry Manilow, what sweet music you make



ever see them in a room together?
DIDN'T THINK SO



you're learning so much about barry manilow right now
BE APPRECIATIVE
AND NOW YOU'RE TEXTING ME
KNOWING NOTHING OF YOUR DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM
IF YOU'RE ON THE PUTER HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THE HORRORS I HAVE INFLICTED ON YOUR CHAT BOX?
THE BARRY MANILOW RELATED HORRORS!!!

And then he actually was at his computer and said I had to copy and paste this into tonight's post or he would...do something or other. Something threatening. I already forgot. Oh well.

This is Sugary Cynic, and my brain has graduated without me. 'Night!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TESLA MOVIE

Ok, so there was going to be a movie review here, but it is late and I am sleepy and I just read something far more important: Internet rumors abound that some Serbian dude is making a movie based on the life and times of everyone's favorite Scientist That Was Played By David Bowie: Nikola Tesla.

A narrow field, admittedly, but no less prestigious

Anyway, here's the kicker. The biggie rumor is that Christian Bale has been approached for the part of Tesla and who has been in talks to play his great arch-rival, the fiendish and brilliant Thomas Edison? Nicolas Cage.

For reals. I am not making this up. Never have I so badly wanted/not wanted a movie to come to fruition. I mean, this would probably be awful, but also amazingly hilarious. Actually...it would probably look something like this:



Only time will tell. That and how much money Nic Cage still owes the IRS. This is Sugary Cynic, adjusting her Tesla fanfiction accordingly. 'Night!

(As Javi trawled ebay looking for Girl Scout cookies now that selling season is over)

Javi: "Hey, this guy's selling twelve boxes of Thin Mints for only forty-two dollars!"

Me: >_<

Javi: "What?"

Me: "Javi, do you NEED twelve boxes of Thin Mints?"

Javi: "...maybe"

Me: (glare)

Javi: *sigh* "No"

Me: "Close the page"

Javi: "But maybe-"

Me: "CLOSE IT!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Lincoln Lawyer: Sadly Lacking In Abraham Lincoln

Ok, so I hadn't really planned on seeing this but Rango was my choice and The Lincoln Lawyer was Clever Euphemism's. It's about a defense lawyer who works out of his flashy ride and stars Matthew McConaughey and...

(looks left)


(looks right)


(closes the door and locks it)


(Sweeps the room for electronic listening devices)


He's pretty good in it.

No, don't leave! Let me explain!

Ok, so the movie centers on McConaughey's character, Mick Haller, a defense lawyer of requisite sleaze who has a gift for spinning clients, trials and life in his favor. Mick is a manipulator and a bit of a dirtbag and he knows and loves it. But, to make sure that the audience doesn't find him a total ass-hat, he has just enough redeeming qualities to be likable: he is divorced (his wife is a prosecutor played by Melissa Tomei) but they are on friendly terms (occasionally with their crotches) and he has a daughter who's life he plays an active, positive role in. So he's not a total butt.

Unlike Matthew McConaughey

So Mick thinks he's hit the motherload when he acquires a wealthy client named Louis Roulet, played by the poutily adorable Ryan Phillippe. A young prostitute claims he beat the living snot out of her and he says she's full of crap and wants his money. And it looks like he's totally right. Easiest case ever.

"We'll be done with plenty of time to catch some waves, brah"

But of course, it's not that simple, and little by little cracks begin to appear in Louis's "bitch set me up story" and before you know it, little Blondie McPoutypants is in full-on psycho mode. And because of whatever legal system nonsense I didn't bother to listen to, Mick is stuck, trapped defending our little blonde murder-monkey.

The sneer of evil!

Meanwhile, supporting role-peoples like Bryan Cranston, Michael Pare (yes, Streets of Fire, leather-daddy fighting Michael Pare) and John Leguizamo all do good work. But William H. Macy stands out as Mick's private investigator/BFF

If for nothing else than his glorious mane of hair and Wilfred Brimley 'stache

So shit gets real, pals get popped and Roulet gets scarier and scarier and then halfway through the film turns into a courtroom drama and the thing that ties it together and makes or breaks it is Mick Haller and how we feel about him and shit guys, McConaughey brings it. He exudes this slimeball sort of charm but also genuine love and care for his kid and his friends. For once it felt like I was watching this lawyer dude try to weasel his way out of the mess he was trapped in and not like I was just watching Matthew McConuaghey act like a twat for two hours. The movie has a couple of decent-ish twists and while it doesn't bring anything new to the lawyer movie genre, it still manages to acquit itself in fine style, and with a pretty decent soundtrack as well. I was impressed.

So, yeah. Go McConaughey, never thought I'd see the day. So even though you might be planning on giving it a miss, check out the Lincoln Lawyer, it's a good crime thriller with a good cast and a decent story that doesn't require you to lower your expectations. It doesn't drag, it keeps you hooked and it's surprisingly fun to watch McConaughey and Phillippe face off against each other.

"Yeah, that's right, brah, I can pout too"

The Lincoln Lawyer runs over three shirtless McConaugheys out of five. (And holy of holies, he does actually manage to keep his shirt on the whole movie)

This is Sugary Cynic, planning to do all her blogging from her car now. 'Night!

Earl: (Mick's driver) "Hey, so, once you get your license back, could I stick around? Maybe make this a permanent thing?"

Mick: "Earl, I got my license back three months ago"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Nickelodeon Movie for Adults, ya rly

You know that animated film Johnny Depp did that was meant to be for kids, but turned out to be meant more geared towards adult sensibilities?

Oh yeah I guess he did one of these before, eh?

Well, CleverEuphemism here, and I am bringing you my report on Rango.

It’s kind of like Corpse Bride, minus the corpses, and minus the bride, and plus anthropomorphic animals, and a lot more adult jokes… OKAY SO THEY ARE NOTHING ALIKE, I ADMIT IT!

Rango is the story about a thespian chameleon who has grand ideas and a desire to wow a crowd. But alas, Rango has no public to perform for, for he is a chameleon trapped in a cage, perhaps even… despite all his rage (if the 90s is a blur for you, don’t worry about not getting the reference, instead go get me some prune juice, and some Werther’s). Well, one day, Rango gets out! There is a horrible accident that on the one hand gets Rango free, but also leaves Roadkill, an armadillo voiced by Alfred Molina, looking a bit like this:

Yeah, there is a reason he is called Roadkill as it turns out.

Anyway, once freed, Rango comes upon a town called Dirt. Here, no one knows Rango which allows him to create his own identity and be whoever he wants to be. And at this point in the film, Rango takes on the identity of a western badass that killed seven brothers with a single bullet. And being from a town called Dirt, the townsfolk are willing to believe him, cause, well… they needed something to believe in.

And you thought the economy hit you hard….

This is the point where the movie clearly becomes one geared towards adult sensibilities. For example, we get an enlarged prostate joke. No really, they joke about it. And then the town doctor breaks out a blue latex glove and asks who wants to be the first to get the ol’ finger in the butt. AWKWARD.

Then there are a couple of references made that no one under the age of 15 will get. Hell, I am pretty sure there are a number of 20-somethings who will not get the references.

Why yes, that is Hunter S. Thompson circa Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also my Halloween costume from last year, but that’s a story for another day)

And then we get to the reference that is pivitol to the film, yet will ring hollow to anyone under the age of, oh, at least 18 or so. For you see, the entire movie, the entire plot, is based on Rango finding the Spirit of the West. This is the mission Rango is given about 5 minutes into the film, and he spends most of the 107 minute runtime trying to find the Spirit of the West. So, you know what he finds when he finally finds the Spirit of the West?

Yeah, he finds Blondie. The Man with No Name. The Sprit of the West. Just animated, and voiced by Timothy Olyphant.

Now, I have no problem with this. I think it is insightful considering what they do. And the imagery they use in this scene paired withthe things that are said work for me. But, I am a movie buff in my mid-20s. There is no way a kid will get this at all. In fact, this is one movie where trying to help the kids understand the plot is not the focus at all.

This is not to say this movie purposely works against the kid-friendly genre, or completely masquerades as a kids film. There are plenty of set pieces in the film that are used to help usher kids along, and keep them entertained.

The owl mariachi band ushers us along very effectively

There are also a number of doe eyed characters that utilize those “Disney eyes” oh so effectively to let you know that they are the good ones.

Priscilla is voiced by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)

And to counter that there are the characters with the beady eyes who clearly are anything but good.

Yeah, a rattlesnake with a gun for a tail, you know he is bad… and BADASS (Rattlesnake Jake voiced by Bill Nighy, the not so science guy)

So there are those simple cues for kids, just so when they know when they should cower and cry, or cheer and do cartwheels down the aisles until inevitably hitting the screen at the front of the theatre and ruining the movie experience for everyone because they have to call an ambulance….umm.. stay in school kids, and DON’T BE STUPID!

I give this movie a solid 4 Clint Eastwood hand guns out of 5.

The movie is colorful, and fun. It makes you think; and it actually quite bluntly addresses the audience,and that grey space between your ears a few times. In the end, it works rather effectively.

But I leave you all with a few lingering thoughts. When is a kids’ movie not a kids’ movie? And should kids’ films be held to the same regard and esteem as more “adult” cinema? Because if you peruse reviews of Rango on any aggregator site, it is easy to see how Rango is looked at differently than something like True Grit, or any other recent western film. Beyond that though, one is left wondering how you try to approach a film that tries to bend genres, like Rango, when on the one hand it doesn’t really fit into the genre it is trying to bend in the first place.

Rango: Is this Heaven?
Spirit of the West: If it were, wouldn't we be eating strawberry Pop-Tarts with Kim Novak?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Take Me Home From The Ballgame

Happy Pretend To Be Irish In the Pursuit of Getting Wasted Day! (Or alternatively, Happy For Once Being Irish Doesn't Mean You'll Be Stereotyped as A Drunk Cuz Everyone Else Is Drunk Too Day!)

So there's this baseball stadium down the street from school. Generally, it's just for minor league games and they do two dollar game days for us po' students so we can go and heckle the players and occasionally throw someone's phone number into the dugout using a length of dental floss as a fishing line (it's a long story). But a couple major league teams use the stadium for Spring Training so during March the place goes crazy and suddenly there's a bajillion freaking people in attendance. Why am I telling you this?

Because it's National Baseball Awareness Month. Stupid.

If you actually looked that up, I can't be seen with you anymore. I'm telling you because I got a job at the stadium working for some tire company that advertises there and like most things in my life, it tends to be rather bizarre. So my job is flier bitch, which entails me standing at the front gate, attempting to get people to take fliers and discount cards from the tire place and enter into this text message contest thingy that I don't fully understand the workings of. Yup, I'm one of those people now. I wear an obnoxiously yellow jersey and I'm supposed to be all like this:



But after several soul-crushing hours of people taking the fliers and throwing them on the ground right in front of you as if you're not even there, it's more like this:



Now, don't get me wrong. I know people don't want the bullshit I am attempting to foist upon them. If I was in their position, I wouldn't want it either. And I appreciate when people take the time to at least say "no thanks" when they walk by, as opposed to the dickwads who roughly shove past me as though if they take even half a second to take a damn card or at least, ya know, acknowledge my existence, then they will miss all the baseball. Because it's only their for the next four hours, you'd better hurry! That kind of rejection starts to wear on you after awhile.



Although, sometimes it IS preferable to be ignored when the other choice is dealing with people who are completely insane:



This happened. I am not exaggerating.

And then just this week there was an especially memorable instance when some old dude fell down on the sidewalk just outside the stadium and two stadium-worker peoples had this exchange:



All right, eventually they got a first-aid guy to him, but still!

So yeah. Apparently I am incapable of getting a normal job, or at least one that doesn't put me in the line of fire with ass-hats and crazy people. At least it gives me interesting stories to tell you people, cuz I do it all for you.

ALL FOR YOUUUUU

This is Sugary Cynic, bypassing the peanuts and crackerjacks for some green beer. 'Night!

Brian: "I already wore my green shirt this week, I have no green to wear"

Liam: "Drink green beer and then throw up on yourself. Done."

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