"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Very Bad Things

I just finished reading an excellent book, The World We Want by Mark Kingwell. Near the end, he's talking about morality and how to live, and he brings up three films to illustrate immorality: Reservoir Dogs, Go, and Very Bad Things. I loved the first two movies, but hadn't seen the third yet. Then I spied it on a reduced shelf at the grocery store and watched it with eager anticipation.


Ok, there were some laughs here and there near the beginning. But it was so distasteful I was left shaking my head through most of it. And let me remind you, I like The Three Stooges and South Park and American Pie, and Grandma's Boy, and Harold and Kumar and many other moronic, sophomoric films. I do not have a pretentious, politically correct sense of humour. I love a good laugh at someone else's expense. But this was horrid. Roger Ebert agrees. But his review focuses on parts that didn't stand out as most offensive. What really got me was the ending. Maybe he's not allowed to comment on the end of film because it gives too much away. But I can. Spoilers to follow.

The movie follows five guys who go to Vegas a week before the wedding of one of the guys. One of them accidentally kills a stripper, and they decide to bury her in the desert. Then a security guard has to be killed too. One guy starts losing it, and his brother accidentally kills him. Then one of the guys, Christian Slater (whom I loved in True Romance), the rational one of the bunch at first, starts killing off the rest of the guys and a wife who might know too much. Now this is a plot that I typically enjoy watching. But it sucked. The wife, Jeanne Tripplehorn (I remember her as the wife in The Firm), was good. I was sorry she got killed off. Then her kids get left to be cared for by the soon-to-be married couple.

Here's the part I just can't get over. At the end, the guy gets married, more stuff happens, then he and a guy his new wife hates both survive a car crash. They're both left in wheelchairs. One of the children they are guardians to is disabled. The disabled kid keeps falling over. The new husband falls over in his wheelchair. And the other guy keeps spinning around in circles in his wheelchair. Cameron Diaz, the new wife, watches all this, mouth agape, and runs out screaming to writhe in the street between the closing credits. What. The...?

Steve Martin can fall over in a wheelchair and I'll laugh my head off. But there was nothing funny in this scene. It was disturbing to me that it was presented as a joke. And it all makes me wonder precisely what the difference is. Siskel and Ebert suggest the characters just weren't developed enough for us to laugh at them. That might be it. We feel badly for the husband. He just wanted to get married, and all this happened to him. He wasn't bad enough for such a tragic ending to be funny. And if we hated Cameron Diaz's character, maybe we'd laugh at her freak-out. But we barely got to know her.

And what I wonder more, is what's Mark Kingwell doing even mentioning the piece of crap in his brilliant book?

Always read the reviews first, kids.

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