So I said in my very first post, I want this blog to be fun. In keeping with that theme, I’ve decided that every Friday post shall be categorized as Fun Friday.
I have no idea what that even means.
Recently, my girlfriend and I got into an argument about how many DVDs I own. There’s a pawn shop in town that sells DVDs for $2 and BluRays for $5, and over the last 3 years, I’ve gotten in the habit of buying a few discs every week. Well, now I have almost 400 movies.
So, sitting here with my movie shelf beside me, I thought it might be fun for me to give some recommendations.
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
It’s a movie about a guy who buys a sex doll. Get over it.
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is not a perverted movie in any sense, there’s nothing scandalous or risqué about the story itself, and aside from the premise, it’s the kind of wholesome movie you don’t see much anymore.
The story revolves around Lars, a young man mentally handicapped by the tragic death of his mother while giving birth to him. After his father dies, his only family is an older brother and an expectant sister-in-law, who cannot understand why Lars lives such an isolated life. She makes it her mission to draw Lars out of his shell.
Meanwhile, Lars is dealing with the unwanted affection of a female coworker, and the pressures of all this human interaction spur him to a place of mental breakdown. He purchases a sex doll off the internet and tells everyone that she is his girlfriend. He convinces himself that he is real and his family, his coworkers, even the people in his sleepy small town—everyone in Lars’ life is faced with the difficult decision of how to handle this “real girl”.
This is one of my favorite movies for so many reasons, but mostly because it creates a world that is so much better than everyday life. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL could easily have become a vulgar comedy with little meaning and no real impact, but instead stands as a beautiful if often overlooked achievement in storytelling.
WITHOUT A PADDLE
I got forced into watching this movie kicking and screaming. It has all the earmarks of a bad raunchy comedy, from a starring cast known for raunchy comedy to poster art that suggests nothing more than an asinine buddy movie. And while the movie itself isn’t without moments of insipid humor, the overall story is much more touching than your typical road trip movie.
WITHOUT A PADDLE is the story of four young boys who plotted to find D.B. Cooper’s lost treasure. D.B. Cooper, you recall, was the daring bandit who hijacked a commercial airliner and parachuted out of it in flight with $200,000 in ransom and was never seen or heard from again.
As the boys reach adulthood, they go their separate ways, forgetting all about D.B. Cooper and the never-found ransom money. Then a phone call changes everything. One of them has died, and the three survivors return home for the funeral only to discover that their friend had plotted out one last road trip for the four of them, a trip that would lead them to D.B. Cooper’s fortune.
The three young men realize that they must complete this trip to honor their friend, and so begin a wacky road trip adventure. From this point on, the movie is lighthearted and fun, but with the constant ties of honoring lifelong friendship and finding that elusive treasure. Along the way, each of the young men confronts their weaknesses and find strength they never knew they had—you know, typical Hollywood fare. But for whatever reason, it’s a movie that’s endured as one of my favorites over the years.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Jim Carrey really will forever be known as that goofy guy who made those goofy movies. It’s a shame, really, that audiences have wholesale rejected Carrey in any role that doesn’t make them laugh, because his acting in dramatic roles is so much better than most people ever give him credit for.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is a tortured love story, the kind of thing anyone who has ever loved and lost can relate to. Carrey plays a typical everyman, dull to a fault, predictable and afraid to move outside of his realm of comfort. That is, until Kate Winslet’s character enters his life. She lives with a kind of manic intensity, constantly changing her hair color and looking for fun an excitement at every turn. They become the epitome of opposites attract, until a bitter fight leaves them both resenting their relationship.
Winslet’s character undergoes a procedure by which her memories of Carrey are erased, and upon learning this, Carrey undergoes the same procedure. But what makes this movie so stunning isn’t the battle that ensues to reclaim those lost memories, the acknowledgement that we focus on the negative at the end of a relationship and forget about all the good. And ultimately, all the pain we harbor is what makes us who we are.
The film features an equally moving B-story involving the workers at the memory erasing facility, examining the moral implications of playing with the human mind. While there are some weaknesses with the overall story, this movie left a powerful and lasting echo after it was finished, one that I’ve carried with me for many years since watching.
Yet another movie I was forced to watch is SERENDIPITY. Probably most remembered as a John Cusack romantic comedy, SERENDIPITY is an absolutely charming movie that explores the realm of fate and coincidence. Cusack and Kate Beckinsale meet by chance in the opening scene, and despite both having significant others in their life, they fall in love. Cusack immediately pushes Beckinsale for a relationship, but she’s too convinced that fate didn’t mean for them to be together. So she sends cues out into the universe, believing that the universe will bring them back together again if their relationship is truly meant to be.
Fast forward many years. Cusack is about to be married to another woman, Beckinsale has just gotten engaged herself. And yet they can’t stop thinking about each other, despite living on opposite ends of the country. Each embarks on a quest to find the other, and the film’s true magic lies in the series of near-misses and misunderstandings that keep them apart. At times gut-wrenching, often infuriating, the tension that builds over the course of the film is augmented with outstanding support roles by Jeremy Piven and Eugene Levy.
So there you have it—four of the films I absolutely adore. I have no idea if they’re on Netflix but if they are, cue them up. I don’t think you’ll regret it. And even if you do, that’s okay; just don’t hold it against me.