Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Picks and a Pan

I can go months without seeing a film, but sometimes folks just want to see films. So yesterday, my teammate (from the athletic league) and I went to see Indiana Jones #4, and today a dinner gang I hang with went to see Mama Mia. And both were grand romps in totally different ways. Indiana Jones, well, you know what you're getting: silly unrealistic fights and chase scenes, lots of intertextual moments with other Spielberg films (I loved the ark moment, and my friend kept wanting to sing the Close Encounters theme! wouldn't it have been funny to show that mountain as part of a setting bit? Of if the alien held out it's finger ala ET? PHONE HOME!), straight goofiness, and bits of humor. And if you like that sort of thing, as I do, you'll enjoy it.

My friend and I laughed at the academic jokes, as when Indi finds out that his office has been ransacked by the FBI, wonders "the dean of the college" couldn't do something to stop them. Like deans have that sort of power in the real world (as opposed to the near life or death power they have over adjuncts and non-tenured folks). And then there's the moment when Indi and Mutt have slid down the marble floor of the library after the motorcycle, and a student asks Professor Jones a question about some reading. And then Indi tells him what to read and suggests he go out in the field. Except, really, to make that realistic, the student should have asked if the reading were going to be on the test or not. Still, it was funny because students sometimes stop me in the weirdest places and ask questions, though never while I slid off a motorcycle in the library. We just don't have the right floors for a good slide. I'd get rug burn. Well, that and there's a sign on our library door saying I can't take my bicycle inside, even!

On the other hand, there's nothing like watching ants overcome someone to be glad I do Shakespeare and not archaeology! Not that a little adventure wouldn't be welcome, but not biting ants.

But yeah, it's predictable in the way you'd expect.

Mama Mia! was a total romp, except for Pierce Brosnan's so called "singing." Okay, so Meryl Streep is a goddess and can do anything, and her two sidekicks were fantastic. Pierce Brosnan hasn't improved with age. Colin Firth looked really uncomfortable dancing. The other guy (you can tell I don't go to enough movies) was okay. Did I mention that Meryl Streep dances and sings and does the splits in the air? Oh, yeah. Seriously, "Dancing Queen" alone was worth the price of admission, and I didn't even go to a matinee! My other favorite bits were the swimming flipper dance line and the big pre-wedding party dance scene. It really looked like Streep and the other actors were having a blast.

The whole movie is just goofy, and if you're in the mood for people bursting into song at inappropriate moments (and having grown up watching old Fred Astaire movies, I'm pretty into that), then it's all good. Surprisingly, the Abba songs hold up pretty well, and with that one notable exception, the singing was better than I'd have hoped. Surely, they could have found a male actor with a better singing voice?

Going with this gang was fun, too. We sang along (good thing the theater wasn't very full), laughed together, and had fun.

And we all noticed that in good, old-fashioned musical style, everyone got paired off at the end. Because in the American musical tradition, you can't be happy unless you're paired off at the end. Until you get home and someone has to do the dishes, make breakfast in the morning, make the bed, take care of the kids, do the bills, figure the budget, make lunches, dinner, blah blah blah. But you're supposed to forget all the actual stuff of living in the pairing fantasy moment. Don't worry, though, it's supposed to be all radical and new-fangled because one of the couples is gay. Wheee! (Just wait until he tries to bring his lover home as a spouse. Though maybe England's different from the US????)

So, two romping fun movies. Both made me laugh, and I like to laugh.

The pan? I didn't actually see this movie, just a trailer for it, but here's the premise: a woman who's been living at the playboy mansion gets kicked out, and decides for some reason to become a house mother for a sorority. So she gets into the job at a sorority of normal women. Except, of course, in our culture college women being into studying aren't considered normal, so she has to remake them as man-bait and teach them how to be "real women." And then, in a SURPRISE twist (which, since it was in the trailer, isn't really a surprise at all), she meets a guy who isn't terribly into her man-bait stuff, and the college women have to teach her how to think just a teeny tiny bit.

I'm serious.

My friend and I were appalled. We wanted our money back for being forced to watch just the trailer.

Who in their right mind would make a movie like that today? What have we come to? It's like my worst nightmare.

Okay, actually, it could be worse if it were a man in drag remaking them as "real women" as in To Wong Foo (because we all know that men know so much more about being properly female and all). Have I mentioned lately how much the patriarchy sucks?


  1. I may need to copy the last one off of HBO at some future date, just because it would be a good artifact to criticize in a feminist philosophy course.... although, I may not be able to actually do that, because then I'd have to watch it... sigh.

  2. Aren't you the little Siskel and Ebert!

    I adored Mama Mia, and how dare you diss my Colin Firth - he was the only guy who looked good with his shirt off! AND he can sing!

    Have yet to see Indiana, now I will.

    As for the third movie, I say see it with 15 friends and boo adn throw tomatoes at the screen!

  3. Inside, Oh, there's a painful decision to be made. Hard to think that forcing yourself or your students to watch that horrible movie would be ethical.

    TBTAM, Colin Firth is a fine looking man indeed, but Harrison Ford beats him in the shirts off department, despite being what, 20 years his senior? But seriously, think back to the final bit: didn't Colin Firth look uncomfortable in the disco outfit?