~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


The Smiths meet Bubba ho Tep ~ Wednesday, May 10, 2006

We've been going through a film-viewing phase of late.

"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" wasn't bad, but I didn't love it.

Good points: I liked the idea of taking the metaphor of a normal marriage to extremes. I liked the implication that the two of them were "straying" from their marriage, shortly thereafter undermined by the revelation of their true alter-egos as mercenaries--sadly, this only works fully if you know nothing of the premise of the film, which would then mean that other ironic sequences early in the film would be undermined. There was some nice repartee and amusing dialogue when the truth about their respective "secret lives" is revealed in the midst of action scenes. Some action sequences were used more effectively than usual as pivot points in the relationship (an accidentally discharged gun leading to an escalation of the misunderstandings, etc.). I also thought it a good choice to have John Smith as the "softie" who is willing to show more, care more, etc. On the one hand, that works against traditional sterotypes and on the other it works well with his more self-revealing character (versus Jane Smith, who is established as a tied-down perfectionist) etc.

Not so good points: Action sequences often felt long drawn out--kind of akin to the showstoppers in musicals, where little gets accomplished but the status quo is sung about in great detail (though in this case, it was fighting and destruction of surroundings that were accomplished in excruciating detail--kind of how I also felt about Kill Bill vol. I). I do like good action sequences (and in some cases, they don't have to advance the plot--e.g. Jackie Chan's action sequences are just entertaining in themselves and intricately choreographed dances), but these didn't particularly hold me in many cases. I also felt that Jane Smith's crisis/change of heart was under drawn--I'd think it would be a large concession/moment of transformation, when she finally lets herself "fail" in the context of the agency and allies herself with her husband instead. But after building up to that particular meltdown and turning point for her (John has already shown his commitment to her), it gets summed up with a bland "I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here" between volleys of gunfire. That, for me, pulled the rug out of the potential impact of the film, particularly since one might expect a more painful relinquishment on her part of those things which she has used to define herself, at the expense of her marriage, in the past.

"Bubba-ho-Tep" had its own set of flaws, but it was also charming and wacky. From the moment I first heard the premise (Elvis, alive and well in a Texas nursing home, fights off a rampaging, soul-sucking mummy with the help of John F. Kennedy), I wanted to see it (kinda like "Snakes on a Plane" for some people). I expected something a little faster moving and tighter, but despite that, the moments that were amusing really did crack me up. I loved many of the lines and the absurd details provided--for instance, the name of the book JFK regularly consults with regard to soul-sucking demons is called _The Everyday Man or Woman's Book of the Soul_ by David Webb.

"And they got some pretty good movie reviews in there about stolen soul movies in the back," adds JFK, while they are examining rude hieroglyphic graffiti ("Pharoah gobbles donkey goobers") in the visitors' washroom. For lines like this alone--delivered with earnest dignity--the film is worth a watch IMO, but despite the rollicking premise that may make it sound like a fun, family, hallowe'en classic, some of the language and references are pretty ripe for a young audience. Still, I'd recommend it when you're in the mood for something low key and wryly amusing. And for those out there who might feel that Elvis is alive and well, somewhere in this world, this might provide some welcome closure.

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 11:45 AM::::


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Anduril Elessar
Susan Deefholts

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