Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Writer: Kevin Smith
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Kyle Gallner, Michael Angarano, Kaylee DeFer, John Goodman
a crazy church guy abducts some teens because they are horny with the intent to kill them as part of his church service. awry. the ATF get involved. the obvious parallel to waco is made. guns.
Looking at it through a clear lens, this is another "it is what it is" movie. It's high 2 / low 3 from a scoring perspective. Parts are unnecessarily muddied, and the performances don't always belong in the production. If John Goodman was asked to dial it down then he failed. Since he was more world-weary about the endeavor than the preacher he should have shown less passion. It seemed like he was trying to sometimes, but he just came off so...big. Even the least zealous of the zealots should have had more presence than he.
The story tried just a little too hard to have complexity and layering. We didn't need Milton or his subplot at all. The opening of the action (such as it was) would have played much better had the errant shot come from some inexplicable place rather than him. We also didn't need the background on the three dudes; their personalities didn't come into the story in any way. That whole scene in the cafeteria could have been cut, replaced with ten lines in the car on the way to the place. On the other hand, it could have given a little more weight to some of the relationships between the "cult" people. There were times when I was confused about why a particular person was upset when someone else got shot. I was also confused as to whether or not I was supposed to care.
Finally, the title didn't match the film. What was the point? That those sorts of religious nuts only exist in "red states?" If it was a bigger metaphor than that it didn't resonate with me at all.
If we look at it through the lens colored by the notion that some of Smith's earlier works really shaped my development (I'm looking at you, Joey Lauren Adams) then it's a mixed bag. I haven't seen Cop Out yet but it seems to me that his direction is improving while his writing has stagnated at best. There were some good-enough tracking shots around rooms, and generally we knew what was happening in the gunfights. But even including the preacher the dialog lacked real characterization. Most of the characters spoke with one voice, and it was his, as if he was pretending to argue with himself.
And now I'm going to complain about both the general and the specific. Smith is some kind of Catholic who engages in sodomy and had premarital sex and he's all about the civil rights. But he still calls himself a Catholic, which makes him a member of what's arguably the largest hate group in the world. So many people claim to be members of these big churches and then ridicule as cults the smaller groups who actually follow more of the rules laid out by the same text in the same book. It's like these people feel that because there are more members in their club, their hypocrisy is more acceptable. It's not. If you're a dues-paying (e.g.) Mormon or Catholic or Southern Baptist or top end Jew then you're contributing to the unhappiness of others.
I like to end my stuff with a single sentence dig / praise. But we're beyond that now.
i wanted to like this, but it just didn't happen. the red herrings made it all seem really unfocused. i actually got bored watching it. like the ministers long sermon. i stopped paying attention entirely. that went on for twenty minutes too long.
i'm going to compare this movie to those choose your own adventure books. my experience with those was always a short adventure. i always died no matter which adventure i chose. the book itself had like 100 pages, but it always seemed like i died in 10. so i would loose interest really quickly. in this no matter what character you follow it seemed like just another dead end. no pun intended. it all took place in the present. there was no motivation, no back story, no development, just a bunch of characters that got picked off one by one. this might have been more successful if it had been presented as shorts with the five point church (is that what it was called?) as the common theme. this just seemed like an experiment on a gimmick that was a failure.
my summary: we watched this on saturday. it's now wednesday. i kept thinking we had a blog entry to do, but i kept forgetting what movie we had watched. not good.