rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,

Bad Movie Review

I squandered yet another two hours on a bad movie last night, and it was on television so I don't even have any money to get back. I remember the puffery that accompanied the 2003 release of Secondhand Lions. I now wish that Letterman had smacked the co-star, Michael Caine, good and hard when he had the audacity to shill this movie on The late Show. The writer-director, Tim McCanlies, was apparently attempting a bit of magical realism, but ended up with neither magic nor reality. He inserted a lot of heavy-handed symbolism into the movie, but the movie ended up symbolizing only the falseness and flaccidity of the Hollywood production machine's output. Secondhand Lions turns out to be a movie about an old man who tells outrageous lies to a kid, while the movie itself is telling the audience lies even more outrageous.

There is a particular scene in which aged Robert Duvall beats up four knife-wielding teenagers in a cafe. The villains were as improbable as any that one would find in the shabbiest "B" movie, and the scene as commonplace as the countless similar and equally improbable fight scenes that have appeared in at least a third of all Hollywood movies over the last forty years. But while this moment was typical of the movie, there were vices even worse. The entire film was shot through with a sentimentality which could have caused Frank Capra himself to blow his lunch.

A movie might be able to get away with improbability, and it might be able to get away with maudlin sentimentality, but the two combined are either unintentionally hilarious, or deadly. In this case, they were deadly. And, for fans of wretched endings, this move can be marked a masterpiece. I'm not talking about the non-tragedy, but about the sudden arrival of a gratuitous pair of characters to confirm a now-grown but still un-disillusioned child's un-lost innocence. That sentence sounds truly awful, I know, but the ending was truly awful in a way that is impossible to describe in coherent language. Its awfulness must be seen to be believed, but I urge nobody to see it. Trust me, you're better off not believing. Oh, the children who have been made to see this movie! What is to become of them?

This is a great movie... for Triumph to poop on!
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