Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Director Is In

It's been a while since I sat down with the fam and watched a movie.  That was a couple nights ago, but I think I still remember most of it.  The film?  The 1997 Oscar-worthy classic, As Good As It Gets, a title which apparently didn't wow the Oscar community as much as a film called Titanic did at the time.  I mean, it doesn't get any better!  So why so few nominations?  It's AS GOOD AS IT GETS, for God's sake!
And apparently, it was also describing the directing efforts of James L. Brooks, who so far has done Spanglish and How Do You Know since... and I don't think they've been referred to on The Simpsons yet.  But let's leave the title aside for now.  Let's move on to the cameos of the directors, specifically Lawrence Kasdan who plays a psychologist (this obviously gave him the idea for Mumford about a small-town psychologist) and Harold Ramis who plays a ... pediatrician?  But a damn good one, a damn good, pricey one... is Brooks trying to say that film directors are like doctors in a way?  What does that say about Albert Pyun then?  He must be the Nick Riviera of film directors... let's see if he writes back to me.  Nah, I guess that's over. :(  Oh, right.  Todd Solondz is on a bus at some point.  So, he must be playing a pre-med student who hasn't been told to go into acting yet.  Owwch!  Turns out Todd studied with Strasberg, right?
Anyway, the plot.  Spoiler alert: it's a movie about romance.  Sure, a romance with characters more fleshed out than a Nicholas Sparks novel, and more damaged than your average romance pic, but a romance nonetheless.  I think these things have a shelf life.  In our age-obsessed-on-overdrive internet culture now, I couldn't help but not stop thinking... for God's sake!  Jack Nicholson's old enough to be her... her grandfather!  But he tries nonetheless, as his life's kinda boring and there's not much else to do but wait for death.  Oh, and Greg Kinnear plays a gay guy.  I couldn't help but think of old Hollywood.  You know, how Burt Lancaster used to play Indians, that kind of thing.  Or a fat Midwestern white guy would be Charlie Chan.  I wonder if the gay and lesbian community feel that way about Greg Kinnear in this movie.  If not, I will on their behalf.  I know, I know... bad way to start a sentence, but hey, I didn't say "Let me tell you something I know about the Negro..."  Man, Sean Hannity misses that guy.  I mean, I just saw an SNL documentary where the "token gay guy" and unofficial Sweeney sister Terry Sweeney complained about typecasting.  Doesn't he deserve a shot at playing a Simon Bishop-type Oscar-worthy role?  I think the casting director's answer is ultimately... short answer, no.  Long answer, no, because we don't want an actual gay guy.  We want a heterosexual man that the audience can relate to to play the gay guy.  It was a different era.  Now, as for how you explain this, well... I'll leave that to the experts.
And so, we have a damaged love triangle.  At the center of it all is Job Creator Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson, who's apparently a fill-in for Mickey Spillane, but who suffers from some flavour of OCD.  And he's well off, because he can afford to live alone in an apartment in New York City, and he's got money for extra soap... a lot of extra soap.  We meet Helen Hunt, Melvin's favorite waitress.  For him, the only living waitress in New York, as it were, if you will.  Just think of this as a precursor to The Sessions.  She does.  Her son is allergic to everything, so New York's the perfect city to live.  We meet Greg Kinnear's character tangentially at first, through his dog... his lovable, lovable dog, who, God bless it, can't seem to stay in the apartment.  Jack Nicholson's character puts it in the garbage chute when it tries to urinate on the wall.  Man!  He's worse than Helen's kid!
Now, I don't mean this in a negative way.  I'm trying to be perfectly objective here, but I won't bring up Ayn Rand's name... damn it!  I don't know what exactly she has to do with objectivity.  She's one of the strangest things to ever exist, person or object.  But we do get a glimpse of Kinnear's life.  It's a douchebag-y life, a hot New York artist, throwing a douchebag party for all his douchebag friends.  As it turns out, douchebag friends are also quite the fair-weather friends.  I probably should of... HAVE... stuck with that phraseology, but "fair-weather" is just so... pre-20th century and non-douchebaggy.  Then again, maybe his character's not enough of a douchebag.  If you want to be a douchebag, the first thing you have to do is be careful... especially when you live in New York City, one of the world's great capitals, and therefore one of the world's great gathering places for the world's douchebags.  Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear's character) is not careful, and he doesn't vet his models carefully enough.  See, he likes to paint live people.  But you got to give him credit, as he tries in his own way to help the less fortunate... so no hanging with Ayn Rand, that's for sure!  His acknowledging of the lower classes ultimately leads to his demise... well, near demise.  Spoiler alert... c'mon, do you really need spoiler alerts for a movie that's 17 years old?  He gets beat up by his subject's friends, a couple of real lower-class douchebags... was that Jamie Kennedy?  Hah!  Wonder if he was acting burned out.  Oh, s'z'nap!  Anyway, long story short, Kinnear ends up in the hospital with his face looking like a pink baseball and... boom.  Out of the ranks of the upper class douchebags he goes.  They hate reality... which is a good segue, because we get an introductory romantic scene for Helen Hunt.  She has her hands full with the waitressing job and the adult baby that is Melvin Udall, and she has to come home to her allergic son.  What's a girl to do?  What, is she consigned to a lifetime of she-bop forever and ever amen?  She doesn't think so, and she attempts a date with a hot young stud who looks like either Peter Krause or Christen Hayden... Hayden Christensen!  That's it... boy, was I way off.  This is the guy, billed as Carol's Date.  Some part he's got in this picture!  As usual, vomit is the penultimate date-ender, just like this one SNL skit with Chris Kattan.  "Too much reality," the guy says.
To quickly summarize, the film kinda goes on too long.  Think of it as Brooks' nod to Say Anything... , which also kinda goes on too long, and which he produced!  Also, these three people seem to be amateurs when it comes to relationships, and the way they can change your life.  Sure, they say some romantic things, and Simon Bishop and Melvin Udall eventually have one of the pre-Judd Apatow bro-mances that pollute the cinematic landscape these days, but...  Everything is a revelation, and everything is new and scary and they can't handle it.  My God!  Caring for a dog is different if you've never had one!  My God!  Men can say some stupid, awful things!  Clearly these three were made for each other.  But don't worry, One Percenters, your representative Melvin Udall comes out looking okay, especially since his financial situation doesn't seem to change all that much.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Jack Nicholson's character is kinda like Archie Bunker.  Now, I don't know if he deserved the Oscar, but it looks like he did some research into OCD, and he got to stick it to Burt Reynolds yet again!  Tee hee hee.  And Lisa Simpson got to play something different for a change, which is cool.... City Slickers 1, not so much.  But if she's happy, I'm happy.  I guess what I'm trying to say is I had an okay time.  And I'm freaking out because screenwriter Mark Andrus has a new movie out called And So It Goes... is it a sequel, perhaps?  ...nope, but similar plot.  Michael Douglas is the Jack Nicholson character, and instead of a dog, he has to care for a granddaughter.  Basically a sequel.

good double bill with... what else?  About Schmidt!!.. or maybe Something's Gotta Give

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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