Over the past week my pal, and multiple Lammy award winning blogger, The Mad Hatter has been conducting a The King of Pain blog-a-thon on his site The Dark of the Matinee. The blog-a-thon consist of Hatter diving into his wife’s side of the DVD shelf and subjecting himself to the films in her collection which he deemed painful. Needless to say the merging of their DVD collections will not be occurring anytime soon.
Being the masochist that Hatter is, he has invited his fellow movie bloggers to participate in the The King of Pain blog-a-thon by either delving into their significant others collection or watching some of the same films he had to watch. After asking my wife to pick out three films for me to watch, I was pleasantly surprised to see that her DVD collection actually held several gems. Despite the numerous copies of Dirty Dancing, films such as The Princess Bride, Big Trouble in Little China, Working Girl, Romancing the Stone, and True Lies all graced her collection. Things were looking outstanding until we hit the “donated by others” section of her collection. These are the films that were passed onto her by friends who were not big movie watchers. This is where the “pain” in The King of Pain began…
The Sweetest Thing
The first film on deck was the comedy The Sweetest Thing, a film that I had seen before, which only made it more painful sitting through it a second time around. The film is essentially a poor attempt at a female Farrelly Brothers film. The story focuses on three roommates, Christina (Cameron Diaz), Courtney (Christina Applegate) and Jane (Selma Blair), as they navigate through the complicated waters of the dating scene. Christina in particular has left a trail of broken hearts as she just wants to have fun. Of course this all changes when she meets Peter (Thomas Jane), a man who immediately sees through her façade and calls her out on her fear of commitment.
Comedic hijinks ensue as Christina decides to track Peter down by crashing his brother’s wedding.
Sex and the City, the television show not the movie, proved that women talking frankly about sex can be amusing. Unfortunately, The Sweetest Thing is so concerned with being a gross out style comedy that it forgets to make the three main women actual people. For women who seemingly have everything together except for their love life, the women come off as dimwits instead of sophisticated professional women. The film is filled with jokes about oral sex, jokes about women openly feeling each other’s breast, more oral sex jokes, a clothes changing montage, oh and more oral sex jokes. None of which are funny. The only highlights of the film are Christina Applegate and Jason Bateman, both try their best to overcome the bad script and provide genuinely funny moments but even they can only do so much.
Remember when Barry Sonnenfeld use to make movies that were actually good? Films such as Get Shorty and the first two Addams Family films, yep I miss those days too. RV plays like a 60’s Disney family comedy made 40 years too late. Frustrated that his family no longer interacts the way they use to, Bob (Robin Williams) decides to rent an oversize RV and take his wife (Cheryl Hines), moody daughter Cassie (Joanna Levesque) and weight lifting obsessed son Carl (Josh Hutcherson) on the great American road trip. Besides trying to get his family to bond, Bob also must find time to get important work done for his demanding boss (Will Arnett).
I honestly do not know where to start with this film? RV was, if nothing else, a test of endurance. Despite its scant 99 minute running time, the film felt like it was well over two hours. The film relies heavily on physical comedy and juvenile potty humor. While watching excrement shoot up in the air and cover Robin Williams, may ignite laughter from a five year-old, it does nothing for the rest of us. Which brings me to the main problem with RV, you can predict every single gag well before it happens. The film never deviates from the standard plot formula that has been used in numerous other films of this kind. Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, and Kristin Chenoweth all deserved to be in better films than this. I understand a paycheck is a paycheck, but they are all too talented slum it in this production.
By far the most painful and infuriating pick of the bunch, actress Sally Field makes her feature film directorial debut with this insipid film about appreciating what is really important in life. Since she was a little girl Mona (Minnie Driver) has been obsessed with beauty pageants. With the help of her seamstress best friend Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams), Mona starts to make strides in the competitions she enters. Just as her pageant career takes off Mona discovers that she is pregnant. To ensure that Mona’s dreams of becoming Miss America stay on track, Ruby secretly agrees to raise Mona’s daughter Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) as her own. Yet when circumstance forces Mona to take care of Vanessa, Mona must not only find a way to keep her hidden from pageant officials, but she also has to figure out how to deal with Vanessa’s constant inquires about why she looks she looks so much like Mona and not Ruby.
What is so insulting about Beautiful is the fact that Mona is a shallow and selfish character for 95% of the film but then is inexplicably praised like a hero by the end. People mistake her act of finally coming to terms with the responsibilities she has been ignoring for seven or so years, as a statement about a woman’s right to be both a mother and a beauty queen. Despite the fact that the story has a “villain”, I would argue that Mona is the true villain of the film. She is neither a likable nor interesting character, and it is hard to feel happy when everything wraps up so conveniently at the end. Frankly, as a male, I found the film insulting so I can only imagine what some women thought of the film. I cannot even look at the DVD cover without getting enraged at the massive pain this film was to sit through.