Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010: "Ordinary People"
Um...OK, I know that everyone loves this movie, and it won an Oscar (actually a lot of Oscars) and I know that it's a favorite and that people say it's a masterpiece and all, so I'm going to try and be more delicate here than I normally would be and avoid saying things like "WTF, this movie is a masterpiece alright, a master piece of SHIT" or anything like that.
Seriously though. Woof. LITERALLY. Woof.
OK, here's the deal. I can identify with poor Timothy Hutton's character, a suicidal teenager from a rich, "normal, ordinary" family who is depressed after his brother died in a boating accident...he was in the accident too, and he lived while his brother died, so he has survivor's guilt. His father is Mr. Helpfully Helping Helperson, ready to be overly cheerful and try to "cheer his son up," and his mother is frosty the snow bitch, the ice princess from the coldest depths of hell...seriously, this woman makes the Stepford Wives look warm and caring and personable.
So essentially I can get what this movie is trying to say, and Judd Hirsch is actually good here as the psychiatrist who refuses to give easy answers even when the son blatantly asks for them ("I just want to be able to control myself so people won't be worried about me," he says more than once). The subject matter is intriguing, and the actors do a good job, so why is this movie so bad?
I think it takes itself WAY too seriously. It's adrift on a sea of pretentiousness and it never puts down an anchor I can grab onto. I mean, in the end I care about the father and the son, and fuck the mother anyway, but come ON people. In one scene, the mother and son are talking, and he's asking her why they never got to have a pet, and she tries to go off on a subject about how dirty dogs are, and the son STARTS BARKING AT HER. I shit you not, he STARTS FUCKING BARKING. DUDE. Yes, I get what he was doing. she was being Icy McFrigidBitch, and he was trying to shut her up and shock her and make her see what she was doing (make her REACT to something, freaking robot that she is). I understand the scene, but it's RIDICULOUS. HE BARKS AT HER. this is "Ordinary People," not "The Shaggy Dog Rides Again." How am I supposed top take this movie seriously when it doesn't even have the good sense to laugh at itself? Movies with suicidal people aren't known for being cheery, but there's a way to portray that without drowning in your own melodrama, and hit movie can't cut it (hell, even the infamous suicide attempt from "St. Elmo's Fire" had the good sense to insert some comic relief).
This movie could have been good,. Maybe it IS good and I just need to give it another chance. I'll probably watch it again at some point in my life when I'm not going to be thrown into a fit of rage when the lead character starts BARKING, but for now, I just think it's pretentious and awash in too much melodrama for me to care about it the way I should.