Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Day Flight: Rome to New York: Mama Mia and, ugh, Speed Racer.

by Sara

Ok, both these movies were really really bad. I mean, I thought Sex and Stereotyping in the City was bad. That ain't got nothing on what I sat through on the flight home. Which was actually smooth and pleasantand I actually had a very tasty lunch and was feeling quite happy. That feeling was later crapped all over by the Wachowski Bros (those loveable scamps). Anyway.

Mama Mia - I start with this movie because I am not sure I am going to watch anything else at this point but need to watch something and, y'know, my mom liked it. Also, I LOOOOOVE me some ABBA. I do. I can't deny it. You can't hate something that fun. You can't. You can't stop your feet tapping or yourself from singing along, especially to Dancing Queen, I DEFY you to try. So yes, every time they broke into song - which was approximately every 15 - 20 seconds - I did find myself kind of smiling. Except for when they sang the two or three songs I was unfamiliar with. I think one was actually written by the ABBA fellas for the movie (or bway show). Those songs weren't any good anyway...

Honestly, this movie is not even really what I'd call a "movie." It's the "most serious and important actress in the world," Meryl
Streep, hanging out in Greece with some not-as-famous-nor-as-good-actors, all singing ABBA songs, looking like they are a bit drunk, and having a blast. This movie was made for moms and grandmothers and it succeeds. The plot (there's a plot. there really shouldn't be. they should just walk around this island and then occasionally break out in to ABBA song and dance numbers, it would've been better...) is convoluted and sometimes I think they forgot it all together, then kind of remembered, then forgot again. Former James Bond Pierce Brosnan I THINK was trying to do an American Accent. I think. it was hard to tell. He wasn't using his regular accent, well, not the whole time. And in the beginning I think we were told he's American. But, Bond is def not 'Merican and it shows. Also, he can't sing. he SHOULDN'T sing, actually, but he did sing which was unfortunate. Solos even. And if that wasn't him that was singing, whomever they dubbed in also shouldn't sing. As for good bits other than the music, I will cop to thinking it was hilarious seeing a doughy, half naked Colin Firth proclaim to be gay and grab a super euro trash Greek boy up in an "embrace." Also, seeing him, Bond, and that guy from the pirate movies and The Glass House... whashisface...AH stellan skaaaaaaarsgaaaaaaaaaaard, in spangly tight unitards with big-ass flared bottoms and platform shoes at the end of the movie. They do a bit at the end with just the leads where they are all on some stage in ridiculous 70's jumpsuits and they sing and dance to two ABBA numbers. But, I mean THAT is what a movie about ABBA music should be. Why weren't they dressed like that the whole time??? End notes: I hated that I couldn't sing along to this movie. The rest really was unmemorable, except the location. Note-to-self: go to Greece, also, remember to rip my copy of ABBA Gold to my ipod when I get home.

Up Next: The Most Awful Movie Of All Time; AKA -- Speed Racer

Firstly: I don't care if you liked the Matrix sequels. They were awful, you are wrong and you can tell me all the reasons why I am wrong til you're blue in the face but you'd still be wrong and I am right. They sucked. The Wachowskis proved they can't really make movies, and that the first Matrix was some sort of random fluke. Those movies also proved that they think they are really smart and deep and philosophical and shit. What is funny is that they are the opposite. Ok, so we're on the same page, those last two Matrix movies were horse crap. You know what's kind of worse? Speed Racer. This. Movie. Was. TERRIBLE. Like, I knew it was going to be terrible going in, but I was without choices and also I was kind of curious. I had read the reviews, I had listened to my friend who saw it on shrooms and who swore to me that itwas really a fantastic movie but you had to be tripping your ass off first. I can tell you that a) why would you need or want chemical alteration to watch this? If I had been tripping than I think what I would have experienced would be an awful movie without bells and whistles and shiny psychedelic colors to distract me. Cos they would cancel each other out. Where's the fun in that? and b) this movie was just like a cataclysm of bad. I have no problems with shiny colors. Yes, they gave me a headache in this instance, but y'know, the acting was just so dismal (side note: why did they hire a crash test dummy for the romantic lead? was a 2x4 unavailable?). I have been on a hate-fest with Christina Ricci ever since she lost way too much weight, and stopped starring in things like the Ice Storm and Buffalo 66 and started, well, starring in suckage. Here she barely registers as a living breathing person. She's sort of a cardboard cut out that is stuck into most every scene, sort of like a "find the Ricci" game. She occasionally said stuff, which really she shouldn't have, cos actually speaking was more detrimental than just standing there staring vacantly. This movie wasn't really about "girl power" if y'know what I mean. But anyway, it was clear that she wasn't really important. So we'll just move on. Kind of cute haircut tho, and it makes me long for short hair again.

Oh, poor Dan from Roseanne. Remember how awesome he was in the Big Lebowski? and pretty much every Coen bros movie they put him in? DanDanDan. Not every writer-director duo who are brothers are the Coen brothers. I know it's hard to keep straight. (Side Note: Also, keep in mind you might also want to avoid working with the Farrelly bros as well.) Yes this is tricky. Yes, there are too many writer-director brother teams in Hollywood. But, I think you can do it. I met you once and you were kind of scary but also very funny and very nice. You have a daughter whom you love. If you really really do love her, you wouldn't have done this to her so please promise me, and her, you won't ever be in a movie like this again. If she ever asks you why you starred in this horrible movie, tell her the truth. You owed some guys some money and it was either be in Speed Racer or have your fingers broken.

Susan Sarandon - wtf. no, dude. wtf? were you bored? did you accidentally wander on to the set and they just filmed it? maybe you were high. or perhaps it was a lost bet with your boyfriend Tim Robbins over something very very political and liberal-minded. or perhaps it's all three. Or, perhaps the Wachowskis, those loveable scamps, promised you another Rocky Horror. They lied to you. LIED! I know you don't always star in like the best movies. There was that one where you were an age-ed rock groupie with Goldie "one day my lips will eat my face" Hawn. My mom liked it and you guys are kind of the same age so I get that you occasionally want to make a nod toward your contemporaries who, in their later years have lost their taste. Fine. But this? Unforgivable. You will have to find some way to make it up to me. Perhaps Obama can help you retool your image with a position in his administration. That would help.

ok. Here's an interesting thing: Jack from LOST is TOTES Racer X. I'd know that "gruff but supposed to be also tender, strong and commanding yet slightly vulnerable" voice anywhere. Also that nose. I hate Jack on LOST. Guess what? Hate him here too. I know, there is SO MUCH to hate about this movie. But he gets to be singled out. I don't even hate Ricci or the crash test dummy (imdb tells me his real name is Emile Hirsch. Weird name for a crash test dummy) as much as him. Ugh, even more when he takes off the mask. Can you please STOP it with the bug-eyed thing? Ben is supposed to be bug-eyed and creepy on LOST. We love it. You are supposed to be our hero but all you do is stare bug-eyed in anger or stare bug-eyed supposedly with "love" for kate. Blecch. you are icky. stop being icky. It's even worse when you smile. when you smile it always looks like you're faking it. I have decided that you are a psychopath. I have no sympathy for you, even when you are beardy and addicted to pills and alcohol. so, hah!

the rest of this movie: ok, so there's an annoying way overly precocious little kid who mugs it up so hard i'm afraid he's going to break something. But, I am used to kids like this, they are all over my TV. I know the monkey is there cos it was in the cartoon but honestly, with all the rest goin' on they could've losed the monkey. He was only there for the one scene where he threw his poo (I guess I have to commend the Wachowskis for their restraint. They had a monkey on set the whole time and only shot ONE monkey-throws-his-poo scene?). There are many many seizure-inducing shiny things. And gravity apparently doesn't exist when you drive a car in this world. People have really dumbass names. Occasionally throughout this thing the movie goes "anime." But not in the cool way that Tarrantino did, but in a random, half animated/half live action wha? kind of way. Those scenes contribute greatly to inducing headaches and seizures. The cars are a shiny and brighter and smoother than candy. Y'know, that might be a positive. I like things like that. However, sometimes they show battle damage and sometimes they don't. Whatever, thinking about this film is tiring...I know that fat, creepy villain from somewhere. (IMDB: Roger Allam). I like him, he's overacting and chewing scenery, good. someone should be having fun. everyone else is sort of zonked out. crash test dummy hot lead Hirsch or whatever is having trouble "emoting" which kind of fun to watch at first but I'm getting impatient. This movie is also over long. I shouldn't need more than 72 minutes of this and yet I'm given 135.

Ok, Here's its major (alright, not the only major but I'm tiring out here) downfall - there is like a totes important, totes relevant MESSAGE!!! -- would it be a Wachowski movie if there wasn't some sort of overt MESSAGE? no. no it would not -- so get this, turns out corporations are like bad and stuff. Rich people and CEOs and junk think that cos they have money that they can like, y'know, break rules and rig sports and keep making money and no one will say anything. but that's like SO WRONG! If you really really really believe and can like, um, drive a car really really well (which is far as I can tell means having a semi-sexual relationship with your car, which you've given a gender, pushing your foot down extra hard on the gas pedal occasionally and pushing a button) YOU WILL TOTES PROVE THEM WRONG!!! cos, like, you have heart and heart beats money in rock- paper scissor- money-heart game all the time! YEAH! If only the crash test dummy could've mustered that much enthusiasm...

(random semi-related fact: NASCAR came out of bootlegging. Bootleggers in the south and in Appalachia rigged their cars to go faster and outrun the cops so they wouldn't get caught haulin' booze. Then they started drag racing each other. Then they started racing with rules. And tada - Nascar. it's totally true.)

I hated this movie. I was relieved when it was over. There was a "TWIST ENDING." Racer X is actually speed's disgraced brother (the movie was never terribly clear about why speed's brother (speedier? stickshift? I forget brother of speed racer's name, sorry.) was disgraced in the world of racing. The movie tells us that he apparently crashed a lot. Or made other people crash which was bad. Or rather, when he did it was bad cos I saw lots of people crashing and doing stuff but Speed didn't get in trouble. Ok, he did once but I really honestly could not follow this movie. It somehow had the paradoxical effect of feeling ADD-addled and unfocused, jumping quickly from scene to scene, while also being extremely draggy and taking a long time to get anywhere. Maybe the Wachowskis have special physics-bending directing powers. ANYHOODLE. so speedy there, his brother turns out to be Racer X, right? 'cept Racer X is revealed to be Jack from LOST and jack doesn't look like the brother. Guess what? Turns out, speed's brother (can't remember the brother's official name. stickshift? exhaust pipe:?) had the same surgery that nic cage and john travolta did in Face Off. Except with Jack from LOST's face. But he ends up not telling his family for...reasons...uknown to us all... so boring. so don't care. wever. This is the THIRD time the Watchowski's have wasted my time. I would ask for it and my money back except y'know, I can't. My head is throbbing at this point and so I actually have to switch off the screen and take two advil. I end up dozing a bit from boredom until some sort of breakfasty snack type thing is served. This time my food isn't good. Insult to injury!!!!

15 comments:

jennifer said...

i was reading this whilst on hold with the lovely con edison rep.
you got me so jacked up off your anger.
she told me to "calm down ma'am"
:)

franzeska said...

I didn't find it at all hard to follow. Maybe it was better on the big screen, or maybe you just need a very weird attention span to appreciate it.

I get why a lot of people hate the movie, but I'm always surprised to see how much people missed of the plot. The rules and why Rex was disgraced were explained pretty thoroughly.

Todd C. Murry said...

Does anyone have any idea why the word totes shows up randomly in the these two movie review entries? I'm just curious... I can't stop trying to figure out how it happened long enough to read the reviews. Maybe it's an obvious joke or common formatting issue between browsers, but I've never seen it before.

neilshyminsky said...

"totes" = "totally"

Matthew J. Brady said...

Oh, man, I loved Speed Racer. I hope that doesn't make me an enemy of the site from now on. But I don't know, I just was totally on board for the goofy comedy and crazy visuals. It was a gorgeous flurry of cool stuff flying across the screen and shit exploding. Awesome. But, you know, I can understand being overwhelmed, or thinking the characters were stupid, or not wanting to bother with the plot. It's not something that I would expect everyone to get behind, but I totally dug it. Give me this over Transformers qne that kind of stupid, overly-serious, military-fetishist crap any day.

James said...

Reasons Speed Racer is awesome:

It burned out my retinas.

Jack from Lost/Rex Racer/Racer X (geddit) somersaults his car into the path of another flying car being driven by a screaming Viking, and then punches the viking in the face.

Inspector Detector.

Every single goddamned thing in the goddamned movie is CG... EXCEPT FOR THE CHIMPANZEE.

Oh man a ton of stuff but I saw it 6 months ago what do you want.

I could've done without those shots panning around a commentator's huge face superimposed over the race track, though. That's an annoying visual.

Gary said...

"I get why a lot of people hate the movie, but I'm always surprised to see how much people missed of the plot. The rules and why Rex was disgraced were explained pretty thoroughly."

Could you explain the difference between Rex blowing up other cars and everyone else blowing up other cars? In particular, the difference between Rex blowing up other cars and Racer X blowing up other cars? Because I've seen this film a lot (I have a 3 year old boy who likes it, if that gives you a clue), and I still don't get that.

I like the movie, but can see why it is not for everyone.

sara d. reiss said...

honestly there were things i liked about Speed Racer, but it was suggested to me to keep the stuff I like out of the writing and try to focus on hate. There are worse movies and I can def see why children would like it, it is extremely bright and shiny, I thought the car and track designs along with the colors, sets and costuming were really fun. A lot of the criticism this movie received was by fans of the original cartoon and how the movie did not match up (that, and how annoying paulie litt was) and since I'm not a diehard speed racer fan it was hard for me to use that comparison. I do however really hate the Wachowskis, mainly for being pretentious assholes who think they have important philosophical messages to impart on us, the unwashed masses. I felt that the movie suffered most for having a clunky message, it weighed like an anchor, especially because they really did pick an awful leading man. Emile Hirsh was SOOO leaden. You needed someone with more giddy joy in a movie like that. Someone willing to let go and let the audience know they're having a blast and so should you.... Neil Patrick Harris anyone??

Matthew J. Brady said...

Sara: Not that I want to argue, but I think one of the things that made the movie work for me was the dedication to the concept. Having somebody like Neil Patrick Harris (who is a good actor and a really funny guy) in the role would have added a kind of winking knowingness to the film, and a kind of ironic distance, as if they were saying "yeah, we know this is stupid, but we're playing it for laughs". Instead, they went all out and made the characters all very serious about it. I liked that; I could acknowledge the ridiculousness and still enjoy the proceedings.

Also, I have no experience with the cartoon, so that wasn't a factor with me, and I thought Spritle was hilarious and that kid actor was really funny. But maybe that's just me.

Gary said...

Matthew J. Brady said:
"Instead, they went all out and made the characters all very serious about it. I liked that; I could acknowledge the ridiculousness and still enjoy the proceedings."
My two favorite lines in this film come from this - the "Holy cannoli, Speed. Do you know who you're racing?" and "See? This race is full of cheaters." It's all about the delivery, and I feel that you have summed up the why of it very well in your statements.

With regards to the other part of your post, I could never take the cartoon (those anime tics of lack of and repeated animation), and I really like the movie.

Marc Caputo said...

Sara: ABBA Gold is not only a perfect distillation of the ABBA experience, but may also be one of the greatest greatest hits packages ever (It's even got its own 33 1/3 book).

However, if you already don't, I strongly suggest looking at "Arrival" and "The Album", which are better albums than you'd expect from a singles band. Actually, the last track on "Arrival" is the title track. It is an instrumental, with vocals (yes, I know) and may be one of the most beautiful tracks I've ever heard.

p0w said...

honestly there were things i liked about Speed Racer, but it was suggested to me to keep the stuff I like out of the writing and try to focus on hate.

This completely has me confused. I'm sure demand was still high for another review hating on SPEED RACER 9 months after it came out. So far, most of your posts center around what you don't like. Maybe it's really funny in person but it falls flat within the blog. Abhay Khosla you are not.

There is something odd about SPPED RACER reviews in that people are so mad about MATRIX 2 & 3 they're dying to tear into anything with "Wachowski" in the credits.

For the record, I took the family to see it and we loved it. Even bought the dvd the week it came out. It was a lot of fun. A cartoon turned into a live-action movie with Car-Fu!

NPH is in his mid 30's. Seems like he's TOTES to old to play Speed Racer.

Geoff Klock said...

I was the one who told her to be mean. I sort of "commissioned the thing.

Christian said...

Complaining about hate in a two parter post specifically about hate is like complaining about there being space ships in Space Operas.

Todd C. Murry said...

I've got "totes" now. I feel old.