Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two movies

So I watched two movie in the past few days, one pretty good and one disappointing. Let's start with the let down.

Fanboys is a movie that could have been much better than it was. It concerns a group of 20 something friends who plan to break into the Skywalker Ranch so that their friend can see Episode 1 before he dies. The problems are manifold. The main characters aren't interesting, seeming like shadows of characters that might appear in a Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow film. Perhaps recognizing this, the plot relies on a series of cameos. Hey look it's Billie Dee! and there's Ray Park goofing on Darth Maul.

This would be forgiveable if the writing were smart and funny, which it generally isn't. The Star Wars jokes are weak and the movie doesn't really capture why people are fans in the first place, or how far fans will go. Most of the talk of the movies is in opposition to Star Trek, but all of those jokes pale in comparison to the Clerks 2 LOTR vs. Star Wars scene. A movie ABOUT Star Wars fandom should be able to top that, but it can't.

Then the movie has to contend with the reality that Episode 1 is a shitty, shitty movie that crushed the dreams of millions. It acknowledges this at the end, but it could have been better incorporated. The last scene shows tons of cheering fans at opening night. I remember well hearing the opening blasts of the theme and a thrill that I have never experienced in a theater, only to shortly feel the air let out of my balloon. That has been best done in Spaced in this wonderful scene.

The Star Wars machine has grown so large that the original trilogy is lost in the clutter. Anyone who has shopped for kids toys knows that the Clone Wars dominate the merch now. What a bummer.

The King of Marvin Gardens
is a bummer too, but of the good kind. The slow, moody early 70s picture is set in off-season Atlantic City. The nearly empty town is the setting for brothers Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern to reconnect and attempt to reconcile after years apart. The bombastic and oily Dern has a real estate scheme in which he hopes to partner with Nicholson. The two brothers clearly love each other and want to work it out, but their differences keep getting in the way. The acting is great, the tone is great and it is well worth watching.

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