Monday, February 05, 2007

A friend asked me to go see BECAUSE I SAID SO tonight and I was game, if only for the fact that I knew NOTHING about the movie. One of the benefits of not having TV (that's right! No cable, no rabbit ears, just a DVD player) is not seeing commercials for movies so much so that I'm sick of them even before they arrive in theatres. Of course, I've been known to even close my eyes and turn the channel (that is, when I did have TV) if a trailer or commercial came on for a movie that I am really excited about. But the last time I did something like that, it was for SLEEPY HOLLOW and, after I saw the piece of crap, I'd wished that I HAD opened my eyes!

But I digress.

I suppose I did know something about the movie from the poster. I knew Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore were in it. Two actors that I like. And, from the looks of it, Diane's the mom and she's kinda bossy. Got that. Whatever. So it was going to be a chick flick romantic comedy. That's cool. As a gay man, I don't have as big a problem with chick flicks as much as a straight guy might. Predictably, I was a big fan of DEVIL WEARS PRADA. But I'm also a pretty tough critic for romantic comedies, ANNIE HALL being the penultimate golden ring to reach for. I'm pretty sure it was the Diane Keaton card that possessed me to spend 11 bucks on this one. Fine. You caught me. Plus, Michael Lehmann directed it and HEATHERS is definitely in my top 20 and by far the best high school comedy EVER (CLUELESS and FERRIS BULLER running a close behind.)

Needless to say, Diane and Michael, I was pretty disappointed. ANNIE HALL or HEATHERS this movie is NOT.

Everything started out well enough. Single mom raises three beautiful daughters and lives her lonely life through them, marrying the first two in a pre title sequence montage of upper class wedding cake bliss. The hair, the clothes, the prop husbands who NEVER speak (then you would have to pay them). I've been on this train before.
I soon realized that the movie was going to be one long string of romantic comedy cliches. And I settled in to enjoy the ride.

Mandy is the youngest and unlucky in love. Mom places a personal ad for her without telling her and interviews the guys herself. Cue the "ugly guy" montage. But one emerges as the "perfect" guy for her daughter, Jason (Tom Everett Scott) , but a dark horse, Johnny (Gabriel Macht) crashes her interview session.

Cheesy montages aside, I was still holding out hope of a decent movie going experience. But I totally threw in the towel when Mommy turned a suspicious eye on Johnny and made her best guess on his past by clicking off various cliches about him without even asking. His comeback is "Thanks. I love being reduced to a stereotype." I waited for the clever comment from Diane's character, calling him on his ANNIE HALL reference, but no ... nothing! NOTHING! Can you believe this? A line stolen directly from one of comedy's masterpieces is one thing, but not acknowledging the source while an actress FROM THE ORIGINAL MOVIE is in the scene is blatant plagiarism. If Woody Allen were dead, he'd be spinning in his grave.

In case you don't remember, the scene in ANNIE HALL is when Alvy meets Allison (the amazing Carol Kane) at a political fund raiser and he flirts with her by totally guessing her family's history which he finishes by saying "Am I right?" and she says, "No, that's great. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype." Is such a friggin funny scene and this piece of crap movie totally stole it. Diane. How could you let this happen?

I won't bore you with descriptions of other scenes. Suffice it to say, Mandy is torn between the two hotties and, at different parts of the movie has both, neither, one and then the other and she's all conflicted and stuff. Mommy and daughter fight and make up and, of course, Mommy finds love, too. And just guess where the final scene takes place. That's right! A wedding cake cutting sequence! How hilariously predictable!

One last thing, though. There's way too many overheard phone conversations and answering machine messages, online postings and cell phone confessions in this film. It's become a little pet peeve of mine: the cell phone as a plot device. You wonder sometimes what romantic comedies did without cell phones. So many opportunities for instant knowledge of a character in a place other than their homes.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there's ONE phone conversation in ANNIE HALL. Wait a sec. There is and it's hilarious. Alvy's broken up with Annie and in bed with Shelly Duvall's character and Annie calls begging for him to come over. He arrives and is dispatched to kill a large spider in Annie's bathroom. After he kills it, in one of the movie's most heart wrenching scenes, Annie confesses that she misses him and she breaks down crying. Now there's a good reason to use a phone: to bring two characters together in a scene. Lately, it seems that all phones are used for in movies is to suggest a connection between characters when they are in totally different worlds. Kind of a sad commentary on our modern culture.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS had some pretty kick ass phone conversations, too, by the way.

But I digress.

Long story short, don't go see this movie, BECAUSE I SAID SO.


Blogger Benji said...

so glad to see you posting again. i've missed you :)

8:39 AM  

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10:27 PM  

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