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Monday, December 12, 2005

Movie Round-Up: Narnia; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Star Wars; Lord of the Rings; Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Squid & the Whale

Today's post is a movie discussion taken entirely from emails sent back and forth between myself and "F", who wishes to remain semi-anonymous. We join the talks mid-email:

Me:...not to piss on your parade, but he also has "hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" and "narnia" as 2 of his top 5 movies of the year. Oh, well, movies must not be his forte.

F: Well, to each his own. I liked hitchhiker's guide alright, but it wasn't my favorite of the year (although I can't really think of movies I saw that I liked that much this year — OH! Except Squid and the Whale). I thought you like Narnia?

Me: Narnia? Like I said earlier, "It was ok."

F: Better than Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, though, right?

Me: Sadly, no. Possibly better than the 2nd & 3rd Harry Potters, but that's not saying much. I don't know. It's much more of a kid's movie than Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, mostly because it is about 4 kids running around doing things. And I don't generally go in for overly sentimental, earnest kid's movies.

F: So you're excluding the LOTR and Star Wars trilogies from the "overly sentimental, earnest kid's movies" classification? I see... I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith this weekend. Twice, actually, once with the commentary on. Not a good movie, but Pitt and Jolie were fun. And the commentary was mildly interesting. Also saw Last Starfighter, which was as good as I remembered it from when I was like six.

Me: Goddam. I saw that one last week. Pretty, terrible, and pretty terrible. It was barely mediocre. Why why why? You must really hate yourself. And at least LOTR and SW had some sense of humor, and some character development. Narnia was all, "but what about our poor father, he's in the war now... he wouldn't want us to go to war". And they have absolutely no problem or shock seeing that every animal can talk. And Aslan is introduced and immediately is trusted by all the children, who aren't the least bit afraid of this 400 pound talking lion going feral on them.

F: Well, you know, they're unafraid in the books, so... I mean, that's half the point, right? That only children could save Narnia because they're so trusting and innocent or whatever. Kind of a Christian idea, I suppose. And Mr. Smith was pretty bad, but not unbearable. It just took too long to get started (like, once they start fighting it gets markedly better). There's some good dialog (Mrs: What do you think of the drapes? Mr: Hmm. Mrs: If you don't like them, we can return them. Mr: Okay, I don't like them. Mrs: You'll get used to them.) L. says a similar premise has been done at least twice before, and in better movies (which I've never seen): War of the Roses, else.

Me: Agreed on all points. I think the premise of Mr. & Mrs. Smith was done before in the 1996 TV series called "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" with Scott Bakula and Maria Bello, or the movie Prizzi's Honor, from 1985, which this movie is a remake of... I calls 'em like I sees 'em. Stupid crap is stupid crap, whether it's from an artsy independent lo-fi director or some rich bastard with a $167 million budget.

F: But again, LOTR and Star Wars, those aren't stupid crap, right?

Me: Right, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith is the model of artistic vision perfected.

F: Man, you go from zero to overboard sarcasm in like two seconds flat.

Me: I learned it from you.

F: Impossible! I learned it from you!

The End.


Hurricane said...

Excellent commentary. I think we all must have stayed home and watched the same movies last week. I must admit, although there were flaws in Narnia, watching it with a six year old, makes them seem pretty insignificant. If you want to borrow her for a viewing we can look at the schedules. Popcorn and soda is on you though!

kazuhank said...


there is this artistic tradition dating back to the elizabethan theatre called 'suspension of disbelief.'

once a child walks through a perfectly normal wardrobe into a snowy new world, it's perfectly 'normal' to expect talking animals. true lewis had susan react more to the talking animals, and i completely agree about the terrible intro that felt like a deleted scene from 'pearl harbor' but the film is easily an 'okay plus' if you suspend you disbelief.

oh and the kids trust ass-lan because he's jesus. and when you come face to face with jesus talking animals seem pretty rote.

Sloop said...

Kazuhank - the thing is, Jesus is an average looking human guy with a beard and a bathrobe, not a creature whose natural instinct is to tear me to bits and eat me. To have these kids walk around and see all this incredible stuff happening so rapidly would probably be more overwhelming and mystifying than film depicts. I mean in Lord of the Rings, even the hobbits were in awe of their own magical world. Anyway, I didn't dislike Narnia, I just found it a bit underwhelming in comparison to the LOTR movies, which are admittedly designed specifically to overwhelm the audience. So, yes, it's okay plus, probably a B. One this I didn't mention that might have effected my enjoyment factor was how aggressively rude the audience was around us. At least 5 cell phones rang, and the idiots to my left were doing MST3K style commentary through most of the movie. I think I've gotten pretty used to the comfort of my dvd/surround sound set-up at home, so being surrounded by jabbering morons isn't what I'm used to when trying to watch a film.

kazuhank said...

that's funny because i think the morons-in-the-theater had the opposite affect on me. the makeout couple to my right forced me 'into' the film more than if i had been pestered by cell phone or MST3K offenders.

i'm by no means attempting to act as Narnia appologist, i just found the film to be on par with weekend at bernie's 2, the original short circuit, and return of the jedi, only unlike jedi, narnia was void of any ewok-forced cutesy schmaltz.

bottom line is that due to the mystic setting Narnia will invariably be compared to the Lord of the Rings films, which in my mind, are the most compelling films of the last couple of decades. Narnia is clearly aimed at a different audience and honestly, what recent film can be favorably compared to the Rings films? not many.

kazuhank said...

p.s. sorry for turning your comments section into a movie forum (oops)...

Sloop said...

Agreed; thank god there was no Jar Jar or Ewok. Yeah, clearly aimed at a younger audience, and I'd rather watch Narnia again than any of the Harry Potters. No prob about the movie forum; I'm glad to provide something to talk about.