If There’s a Tiger…I Give

Dear Millicent,

Kudos on your garbage! Yellow gingham and wicker: so cheery, so kempt! Also, THANK YOU for the spectacle of costuming featured below.  That green boob flash is one of those moments when I realize that, like storytelling, there maybe a finite number of ways to cut a cloth, but also an infinite chance of surprise.

Speaking of expected and unexpected patterns, I saw The Hangover last night after giggling at it’s baby in sunglasses billboard for weeks.  While Jezebel and others have lamented that this movie is one more bromance-o-rama/grossout/ roadtrip-find-ourselves production (I think Jez has taken to calling it Three Men and a Baby), I was holding my breath because of the inclusion of Zach Galifianakis and his distillation of spectacle mired in the slack human condition.  He seems to understand the glee and anger in life, and convey the ambiguous intersections of mediocrity and truth with something that isn’t quite irony.  His music videos capture this in their lighting, unmade beds, leaps, belly and old sedans. His exuberance is authentic, and rarely watered down.  I also think he probably punches people sometimes when he is drunk.

And he brings this charm to the movie, complete with unflattering pants and ace timing.  There were times where his sense of humor, his enjoyment of the joke, was strong enough to entice me further into the movie.  And yes, it is a boy movie…I wonder how far off the original script was from that of the Tom Hanks 1984 hit The Bachelor Party.    But, I laughed a lot.  There are songs, there are tigers, there are jokes about gremlins.  Las Vegas is introduced during the title sequence as a doomscape, with the Bellagio fountain roaring like a harbinger of obliteration.  It’s fantastic.  And, like I Love You, Man, the movie is supremely plot lite– –something that I have come to immensely appreciate lately.  The tensions are never actually fretful, and the drama is always outrageous or simple enough to relax me into a state of easy merriment.  As a kid, I used to get worked up with every Disney movie, Lady in the Tramp especially, because they raised the stakes so quickly to employ the drama.  It all starts as fine, but then all of sudden Lady is on the street, Ariel has lost her voice and her home, Pinocchio has that terrifying island: there was a lot of stress to get the payoff of catharsis and happy fable.  Not here– — happy fable is ensured, and the only stress in the audience is of will the humor keep up, will the script hold up until the end.  And with that, the story is weak, Heather Graham is under-used, there is a confusing breast feeding scene, and one character gets a fast change of step with no explanation.  But, my face hurt at the end because I had been laughing so much.

This brings me back to our discussion about the bromance genre.  I don’t hate it, and I tend to eat it up.  BUT, the ladies are always on the side.  Here there are four women in the movie, and while the men are weird and complicated with specific motivations, the women are flatter than flat: bitchy controlling girlfriend, beautiful responsible fiance, hooker with heart of gold, and large bottomed public servant.  That’s it.

I talked with Mr. Carla Fran on the way home about what a lady version could be…is Thelma and Louise one of the few that allowed this? And if there could be a Ladypash or homance (I like this new name even better than cronemance, but I know it can’t stand)  that was plot lite while still being three dimensional?  The show Girlfriends tried this with uneven results, and Sex in the City was often too busy connecting giant life themes to ever really let its hair down.  All other lady comedies swerve towards public service announcements (and I agree, domestic violence is bad), or chintzy sapfests. Why can only men have unvirtous adventures for the sake of shenanigans and general fuckuppery in film? While there are many people who are above that, not all of those people are women.

And luckily, there is a straight to DVD movie to prove it.  Via Women in Hollywood, I found out about Spring Breakdown, which looks like the exact thing I’m looking for, albeit with cheap production and a fairly hammy script. I haven’t seen it yet, but my fingers are crossed that it’s the start of something good.   Karina Longworth gave this enticing review from Sundance:

I suppose it’s possible to laugh at/with Spring Breakdown as gross out comedy without taking it too seriously, but throughout I could sense there was also some really interesting stuff roiling underneath the top level, without being quite able to put my finger on it until near the end. And then I realized: Spring Breakdown is a parody of Sex and the City-style media, which depict 40-something women as sex and image obsessed to the point where they might as well be adolescents, but the film enacts that parody by aping the Fight Club model. Having hit bottom by being “themselves,” with nothing left to lose, these three ladies embrace the fact that, in a time and place where there are no constraints, to be “normal” in America is to go to extremes, even if that means being extremely self-destructive. They dive deep into a nihilistic subculture of masochistic thrill seeking. Eventually, they realize that this is not the answer to their woes. But not until it’s too late to stop everything from exploding.

The movie doesn’t exactly look good, and it was released straight to DVD, which is sad, but American Pie and There’s Something About Mary all now seem crudely worked starts of this new brand of sensitive-gross-out-man humor, so maybe, this can be that?

I hope to see Up soon, and then chat with you about it, as well as Away We Go, which looks both immensely charming and highly unpalatable (mostly I think because husband and wife Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida wrote it together from notes on their own pregnancy…and named their main characters Burt and Verona (Dave and Vendela, meet Burt and Verona).  We shall see if they can charm me or back me further into my little cranky corner.

Summer, I want to spend you in the dark theater drinking soda.



One Response to If There’s a Tiger…I Give

  1. Millicent says:

    “Summer, I want to spend you in the dark theater drinking soda.”

    Can I come?

    I am making a list of all the movies I need to watch the minute my time is my own again. Spring Breakdown is on it. I think maybe The Hangover should be too.

    I’m with you on your fondness for the bromance and the virtues of plot-lite–it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I want to play too!

    I think Roseanne, while not a homance, can do this rather well. And it manages to evade the public service announcement problem and stay honest and funny too.

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