Tuesday, January 22, 2008

27 Dresses and Cloverfield: A Mashup Moviegoing Experience

I have to say, I felt very odd at about 11:30pm on Friday night…for two reasons. One, I’d just finished seeing “Cloverfield” and was desperately trying not to lose my dinner (and the Whatchamacalit I had in the theater) in the trash can on the Promenade. Two, I watched “Cloverfield” immediately after seeing “27 Dresses.” The contrast threatened to make my head explode. Oh wait…that was probably the 74 minutes of jerky, nausea-inducing handheld camera footage.
I have no problems admitting that I heart rom-coms. I have the ability to distinguish between the good (While You Were Sleeping, When Harry Met Sally) and the awful (Music and Lyrics is the most recent example that springs to mind). I just don’t always care. Nearly all romantic comedies are fairly paint-by-number. There’s a formula, people. Deal with it. Yes, the fact that the male and female leads meet, fall in love, have 12,000 problems, break up and make up in the span of two weeks (or less) is way beyond unbelievable. That’s not the point. Stop critiquing these films like you expect them to be cinematic masterpieces and then be shocked and appalled when they fall far short of “Citizen Kane” standard. I will stop my rant here before it becomes three pages long (you’re welcome). I will say, though, 27 Dresses was enjoyable for the following reasons:

There is no bad here. Trust me.

- James Marsden. Does anyone remember “Second Noah”? Anyone at all (besides me)? Marsden has been on my radar since then, but hasn’t had a role that impressed me even one iota until this year, when he busted out in “Enchanted” and “27 Dresses.” I got to stare at him a lot, which was nice. More importantly, he brought a refreshing snark and cynicism to Kevin Doyle that made the movie that much more enjoyable.

- Holy crap! The female lead isn’t in PR or advertising. I feel like every freakin’ “modern woman” in rom-coms has the same job. She’s an assistant! At an urban, environmentally-friendly small business! The novelty! (I’ll stop now).

- Judy Greer. I wanted to wax poetic about how Judy Greer makes everything better, but my friend and fellow blogger already did that for me http://danielletbd.blogspot.com/2008/01/get-outta-my-dreams-and-onto-my-tv.html. I’ll just add that Greer can make anything better. She continues to fly way too far under the Hollywood radar despite her ability to turn derivative crap into comedy gold.

- They sang Bennie and the Jets, people! BENNIE AND THE JETS! And they weren’t half bad!

- The movie taught me to never, ever have a theme wedding, get married underwater, or pick a bridesmaid dress color that would make my closest girlfriends want to kill me. All good lessons.

I left “27 Dresses” and wandered out to Santa Monica to meet my roommate for “Cloverfield.” We’d been looking forward to seeing the movie for weeks and weeks (and I’m neither a monster movie fan nor a horror/scary movie fan at ALL).

This is the only time they are EVER standing still.

10 minutes in, I was fine. I was patiently waiting to get through the little bit of exposition and setup at the farewell party so I could get to the monsters and explosions and death and destruction. 20 minutes in, I’m still pretty okay. At the half hour mark, I’m ready to kill myself. My head hurts, my stomach is rolling, and I have to keep closing my eyes to calm the threat of something REALLY BAD happening (to me, not the people on the screen. I know those mofos are goners). When I manage to open my eyes here and there, I see the following:

- Person after person fleeing the theater, hands over mouths (I think I lost count at 10)

- People running

- Things exploding

- Marlena exploding (that was pretty sweet…the noise was AWESOME)

- Spider babies eating people’s faces

- Views of NYC destruction that made me compare the “Cloverfield” monster chaos to the footage of 9/11 that is stored forever in my mind

I HEARD a lot of stuff. Friends and coworkers assure me that if I’d seen the whole thing I would’ve hated it. Huge plot holes, things made no sense, blah blah blah. I liked it because of the fresh perspective. I like that we have no idea what the monster is or where it comes from (or why it’s there at all). I like the first person, on the ground, real time perspective of the chaos and destruction. Grounding the action (literally) made it that much more compelling a film. The characters were caricatures, which was fine because they weren’t the point and they all died anyway. The experience was the point, and it was a hell of an experience. They threw in the pseudo romance subplot because if there wasn't some semblance of another story, people would be bitching, "That's it? Just people running from a big monster? That's all the movie is?" Deal.

In short, "Cloverfield" is a pretty sweet movie that I can never, ever see again. Or I will quite possibly die.

1 comment:

danielletbd said...

First, I've never heard anyone say "rom-com" before, and I love it! Second, I think "27 Dresses" was better than "Citizen Kane," but mostly because I think "Citizen Kane" is COMPLETELY overrated. Third, thanks for the blog advert :)

And I think it's a good idea that you have decided never to see "Cloverfield" again (though on a small screen, I think it'd be easier to watch because you don't feel "in it" as much) because I like that you call it a sweet little movie, and I think you might change your mind.