Every year in December the major studios send out DVDs of the films they’re pushing for Oscars, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild of America awards. So far this year I’ve received somewhere between 15 and 20 of them. Why haven’t I counted before writing this? That would take more effort than I can expend right now. Mainly because I’m already exhausted from the task of turning on my DVD player, inserting the disks, and getting them to play properly.
Last night, for example, it took me an hour and a half to just get my 2 year old Magnavox DVD player to power up. That’s 5 minutes of sitting on the living room couch and pointing the remote at it and swearing when nothing happened, 10 minutes of standing at the machine and pushing the standby/on switch and swearing nothing happened, another 5 minutes of unplugging and replugging and jiggling and knocking (pronounced “Ka-nocking” the way my father used to say it), 69 minutes of scouring the interwebs looking for the right user manual and other online advice, and 1 last glorious minute of “rebooting” (yes, I too thought that was only a computer thing) the %&#@ player by unplugging it, pressing the standby/on switch and holding it in as I plugged again.
Sorry, but that effort and its result do not qualify for any reaction resembling “Voila!”
As my wife, Gwen the Beautiful pointed out – continually – through the ordeal, I could have just put last night’s screener, THIS IS 40, into the DVD player of the computer we keep hooked up to our glorious, giant-screen plasma Samsung TV (a brand, FWIW, that I recommend highly), but there was a principle at stake.
VCRs were much, much easier to use. Much less rebellious, you know?
Anyway, once the %&#@ Magnavox was working again, on went THIS IS 40–
And, approximately 3 minutes later, off it went, added to the pile of screeners to be burned. (Because that’s what you do with screeners when you’re finished with them. You’re not allowed to share them with anyone, or throw them away where some DVD-starved, film-loving vagrant might grab ’em. But that’s another story.)
Bottom line: Gwen and I have watched – well, tried to watch – 5 of the screeners in the past week. So it’s mini-review time:
- THIS IS 40
As I’ve said, we didn’t make it past the first 3 minutes because by that time we already knew that this, indeed, wasn’t 40. As in the vile, vituperative relationship we were seeing bore no resemblance to any marriage either one of us has ever been in…and we’ve had some seriously bad marriages. Sorry, Judd Apatow. No, I take that back. You should be apologizing to me.
The best thing Gwen could say about ARBITRAGE is that it wasn’t THIS IS 40. Think Donald Trump as the asshole character Richard Gere played in INTERNAL AFFAIRS. Except that since he’s also Donald Trump he’s even more despicable. We lasted 22 minutes with this one. Only God knows why.
- FRIENDS WITH KIDS
A lot like THIS IS 40, only, to me, even worse. Every married-with-kids cliche known to man, with an ending we see coming by the end of the first too-cute scene. Somehow we made it to minute 18 of this one. I think I was hypnotized. Repetition (in this case, of predictable old dialog) does that to me.
- THE MASTER
Smart people who behave like dumbasses, with characters Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, and, yes, Kevin Spacey played better. Only the names and specifics have been changed. It played all the way through, though, because Gwen and I got on the phone with one of our kids and forgot to turn it off.
- THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
This one struck both of us as the most overrated film of the year. A story that made no sense. A villain whose dialog neither one of us could understand. A Batman who was more than dark, he was %&#@ invisible. I’m a huge superhero fan and have even written a few of them, as most TVWriter™ visitors know, but the best thing I can say about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is that it wasn’t THIS IS 40. Gwen left the room to make latkes after Bane’s first mumbled dialog. I made it to the 41 minute point, however, because I was waiting for something – anything – I could like. (And no, I never found it.)
Ah well, tonight we’ll be watching THE HOBBIT. With pizza and friends. Fingers crossed.
Stay tuned for more from your ever-hopeful LB.