Oct 27, 2008

Films on a Plane

First I saw Get Smart, the movie version with Steve Carell. It was very sad, since even though Carell may be the only person right enough to fit in the great Don Adams' shoes, the movie is a sad barrage of special effects with only few and far between good jokes. It is a sorry sign of how much times have changed for the worse that the relationship between Max and 99 is now adversarial and competitive. In the magnificent TV series, Barbara Feldon's 99 was always much more capable than Max, but she loved him and had this lovely, infinite patience with him. They had a beautiful relationship. She didn't have to prove she was better, she just was. Anne Hathaway is lovely and game, but the problem is that Hollywood has taken feminism and turned it into a male fantasy in which women are too strong to be approachable and the poor males are left stranded and hurting. I cannot tell you how tired I am of this fallacy. And I was sad to see it made its way into this film too.
Of course, few things can be more delightful to the soul than watching Alan Arkin play Boss. Few things are more delightful than watching Alan Arkin, period. I love his boss because he is so not ornery. He is just this sweet guy. There are a few good jokes involving having crucial access to the Vice President of the US and Steve Carell is very funny but it pains my heart that things
come into this film, such as trying to pander to every fucking demographic, that have little to do with the genius of the original concept.
The one thing that is worth the price of admission is to see and hear the one and only Terrence Stamp utter the words "Mr. Shpilkes". I could run a loop for all eternity.

Then I saw Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder and it is very interesting to compare the Mel Brooksian humor with the Stillerian humor. I'm in the camp of Mel. I really wanted to like this movie. I really wanted to appreciate the darkness into which Ben Stiller is willing to go to in the realm of comedy that makes you uncomfortable (like his Cable Guy), but the problem is that it is not funny. It is loud and obnoxious and except for the amazing Robert Downey Jr., deeply unfunny. It is so unfunny that it takes a comic genius like Steve Coogan and makes him unfunny (worse, it kills him five minutes into the film).
Robert Downey plays a parody of Russell Crowe, in a perfect impersonation of his pompous Aussie self, who gets into character to play a black actor and never comes out. He is unbelievable, but the film is so leaden and so mean spirited not even Downey Jr. could make me want to keep watching.

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