Movie watching round-up: The Green Lantern, Bad Teacher and Captain America
First, last week I made my first trip to Toronto for the 6th Annual Smut Soiree with LaineyGossip. Big ups to everyone who came out and stayed to chat afterward. It was a lot of fun and it was great to meet readers of this blog. To address your top concerns for Cinesnark: 1) I wish I posted more, too, but I’m lazy and motivation comes in fits and starts. 2) I also wish I could write shorter posts but I can’t. I try to break it up with pictures. Does that help? 3) I don’t know what to do about your surprise that I am “not like I seem on [my blog] at all”. Real life friends recognize a lot of my opinions, nicknames, phraseology, etc, from normal every-day conversations we have, and a former teacher I hadn’t spoken to in years identified me after reading only one post, so obviously I am somehow failing to translate online to those who don’t know me. I’ll try harder? Unless saying that I “wasn’t what you were expecting” was a nice way of saying, “I expected you to be way bitchier”, in which case, I won’t try any harder? We’ll work on this.
Next, I saw The Green Lantern upon returning home to Chicago. It SUCKED. If you haven’t seen it, DON’T BOTHER. I would rather re-watch the rape scene from A Clockwork Orange for twenty-four hours straight than sit through The Green Lantern again. Poor Ryan Reynolds—he’s a likeable enough actor and a capable action star but he has yet to find a vehicle really worth his while. That The Green Lantern is arguably the worst superhero/comic book movie ever made (seriously, excluding the awesomely awful 1990 Captain America, I’d vote The Green Lantern for that position, even over the horror show that was The Phantom) doesn’t matter to Warner Brothers, who is, inexplicably, moving ahead with a sequel. I left a voice mail for an acquaintance at WB about The Green Lantern sequel that was just a recording of this and he understood.
I also caught Bad Teacher over the weekend. It wasn’t ground-breaking comedy but I enjoyed it. I liked it better than The Hangover Part II, mainly because Bad Teacher included actual jokes, but less than Bridesmaids, which elicited bigger laughs on average. My favorite thing about Bad Teacher is that Cameron Diaz’s character, Elizabeth Halsey, is such an irredeemably awful person yet she is never “punished” for this. I hate it when comedies feel they have to moralize in the third act by having the token terrible character get their comeuppance. Comedy is best when it’s true and the fact is that most of the time, terrible people win and nice people suffer for it. Unfortunately, audiences don’t always want to roll with this, so many films—comedies and otherwise—end up delivering some kind of moral that the story really didn’t need (see also: Easy A).
Bad Teacher avoids this pitfall in a fairly elegant way. Terrible Elizabeth, a stone-cold gold digger only looking out for #1, finds herself giving advice to a love-lorn middle-schooler and for once she actually listens to the words coming out of her mouth. She isn’t suddenly overtaken by a blinding epiphany, but she begins to recognize her own lousiness for what it is—lousiness. At the end of the movie Elizabeth is only slightly improved—she’s still bitchy and mean and she gets away with cheating, but she has somewhat adjusted her priorities. It was realistic, and Bad Teacher didn’t waste time moralizing about why we shouldn’t be bad people. I don’t need that from a raunchy comedy anyway, but it was nice to see that the writers, The Office veterans Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, were able to round out the character and bring the story to a close without sacrificing the basic comic premise of the whole movie—that Elizabeth is the last person who should be teaching children anything.
As for Justin Timberlake, well, he’s a tool. He didn’t bother me that much in The Social Network—I basically felt like he was playing a fast-talking version of himself—and his character in Bad Teacher basically amounts to a SNL sketch character. There’s one scene where he’s actually really funny, but then Jason Segel (I Love You, Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) shows up and is so funny using the smallest gestures and effortless delivery that it shows just how HARD Timberlake is trying. Too much Try. That much Try is worrying. Especially for Friends With Benefits, in which Timberlake is not a supporting character but is a lead and will have to carry the whole movie. Him, and his Try.
And finally, I gave up the chance to see an advanced screening of Transformers 3 in order to get a sneak peek at Captain America. TOTALLY WORTH IT. The footage looked great, it was fun and cool, and yes, kind of cheesy but in a good way. When the clip was over I was going, “But, no…I want to see it all.” I’ve always thought Captain America would make the most of the four superhero movies this summer and after getting a glimpse of it, I think it will end up the big winner in the Superhero Stakes. Downside? While it played like “the fun side of World War II”, I am really worried about the ability to translate Cap to modern audiences.
The cheesiness was born mostly of near-mortifying levels of “rah rah America” patriotism that modern audiences are way too cynical for. Don’t get me wrong—it totally works in the frame of a young man wanting to join the World War II effort. But will it work when Cap is thawed out in the 21st century? Maybe, if all of The Avengers is about Tony Stark and Hawkeye making fun of Steve Rogers’ sincerity. I think The Green Lantern suffered from a story that is inherently incompatible with modern audiences and I fear that, once removed from his native 1940’s, Captain America will suffer a similarly silly fate. But the first movie should be good.