know, Father's Day is coming and it's probably the hardest of the
make believe holidays for a young man to celebrate. I'd say it's
harder than Grandparents Day, secretary's Day or even Kwanza. Our
relationship is way too complicated to fit into the prescribed sentiments
of American Greetings. Don't get me wrong, I love my father, but
like all of us, there are some things we don't agree on. Like my
drinking. He really gives me a hard time about it, always complaining
about how much I drink. He says I'm a pussy for not drinking more.
"Real men don't wake up sober. What's the matter, Son, can't handle
your turpentine anymore?" Or something like that, I don't know.
It's pretty hard to understand what he's saying through the tracheotomy
tube, especially when he's loaded to the gills.
Just like any
father and son, we fight. Not as much with our fists anymore because
he's getting on in years and you just don't punch an old man; you
pull his hair. Because you love him. But Target doesn't sell Father's
Day cards that say, " I know sometimes I hide your bedpan, but I
still love you." And all the ones that say "I'm sorry I suckerpunched
you in church" on the cover don't say, "But I was right" on the
The cards are
full of sentiments that no human could feel. Maybe a perfectly rendered
replicant that received its emotional education from Patch Adams,
but not anyone I know. I cringe just looking at them dreading having
to pick something that couldn't possibly convey the complexity of
my feelings. When I shop, there are women who read the cards, smile
and nod their heads as if those crappy poems perfectly capture their
feelings. I wonder, is it worse to pretend to be so simplistically
sweet or to actually feel that way? In either case, after a half
hour of picking through the bins, I gave up trying to express myself
through the fraudulent words of Hallmark. I ended up just grabbing
a card off the rack by the liquor store cash register. It's not
a Father's Day card, exactly: on the front it's got this farm girl
with huge knockers, and inside it says you can smother your face
in them for your birthday. I'll scratch out the birthday stuff,
sign my name and my dad will know what I mean. Sometimes a half-assed
gesture expresses your feelings better than any poem ever could.
None of that
has anything to do with this week's review, which should have been
for Finding Nemo except that the Cinderella Drive-in isn't
showing it yet. They're still showing The Matrix: Reloaded.
What the hell? How many Friday nights are those greasy comic book
pigs going to get to borrow Mommy's car? How about those of us who
like a good God damned family fucking movie once in a while? I settled
for The Italian Job, a movie so meticulously and thoroughly
cliched it's truly extraordinary. How in the world did two writers
get credit for this shit? Shouldn't it rightfully go to the inventor
of the Script-o-tron 3000? After all, he did all the work of inventing
a machine that rehashes tired plot points, trite dialog, phony sentiment
and arbitrary plot twists into "new" movies?
What a fucking
big-budgeted snore, a movie filled with so much predictable action
that it's impossible to care. The Italian Job stars many
of Hollywood's most uninteresting stars: the charisma-free Mark
Wahlberg whose face looks more pinched than an infant in an Alzheimer's
Ward; the too-boring-to-lust-after Charlize Theron, who gives her
performances the zip and sizzle of a K-Mart circular; and the always
whiny Edward Norton. For comic relief, the makers even brought in
the unimaginative man's Steve Zahn, Seth Green. He's, surprise,
surprise, a computer-whiz/doofus who can't get laid. Seriously.
That's the low level of originality running through this horseshit.
The men (sans
Theron) heist $35 million in gold from Venice, Italy, but before
the day is done, Norton double-crosses his compadres, kills Wahlberg's
father-figure Donald Sutherland and leaves the rest for dead. Of
course, they survive or there'd be no movie. Fuck, I wish they had
A year later,
Wahlberg learns of Norton's whereabouts and wants to steal the gold
back. Not for the money, you see, but to teach Norton a lesson.
Honor among thieves and all. To steal it, he needs a master safecracker.
Enter Theron, Sutherland's daughter, who cracks safes as well as
her father. Except, naturally she has a heart of gold and only does
it for the police. She's still grieving for her father, and agrees
to join the heist only so she can "see the look on (Norton's) face."
To make a long
story short, after a long and boring series of arbitrary obstacles
are put in the way, Wahlberg and company steal the gold back in
a daring, action-packed climax that includes a car chase, explosives
and a "surprise" double-cross. Holy shit, they even have the obligatory
car chase through the dry Los Angeles River bed. The movie is probably
enough to surprise or excite Eskimos living in remote villages.
For me, not being Eskimo, it's a big fucking turd.
The movie religiously
adheres to the heist-movie formula so religiously that no air gets
in. The characters are all standard: the cool revenge-minded leader
who, of course, falls in love with the beautiful girl; the computer-geek
comic relief; the blandly hip black guy; the pretty girl who might
as well be wallpaper; the weaselly bad guy who kills when nobody
else does. The Italian Job actually goes out of its way to
make sure there's nothing original, no twists, no surprises and
no jokes we haven't seen and heard before. To its credit, it does
it efficiently, so you hardly notice. At least not until you've
left the theater and try to remember any details.
disturbing is how crappy the characterizations are. They are the
lazy shorthand of moviemakers who only know what they see. But,
what's so fucking bad is that they know we've seen all this before
and just sort of give everything the short shrift, like saying,
"He's a crook with honor, blah, blah, blahÖ" Why in the fuck should
we care about whether Mark Wahlberg gets his gold? He's a thief
with the charm of a State Farm Insurance agent? He has absolutely
nothing else going for him; no history and no personality beyond
what is mandated to get the story to a car chase. Theron is the
other one we're supposed to root for, but who gives a burning piss
for a crybaby whose only way of dealing with grief is by teaming
up with crooks. She's not deep enough to give a shit about. And
I sure as hell ain't cheering for yet another whiz-bang computer
nerd whose whole job is to magically fill in plot holes the scriptwriters
couldn't figure out.
It's a well-made
bad movie. It's efficient and has confidence in its blandness. It's
loud and brash enough to be confused for cool. But those are the
characteristics that frat guys use to win the hearts of insecure
sorority girls, not what I pay eight bucks for. Two Fingers
for The Italian Job.
I'll be taking
next week off. A little vacation, which means I know in advance
that I will be too hung over to write this garbage. And now, so
do you. In my absence, I thought we could play a game: If you do
not write to call me a lazy fuck or ask me if I am going to write
a review of the The Matrix: Reloaded, give yourself one point.
If you do send e-mail about either of those issues, subtract one
point. The person with the most points wins! StartingÖ Now!
to tell Filthy Something