Confession: I am NOT a movie maven. I do not go to movies very often, like most of the American population. This is especially bizarre because I am connected by marriage to the movie biz, and my more interesting half attends several movies a week. Not necessarily alone, but without me. My criteria for movies, which I suspect applies to more women than care to admit it, are: no violence, suspense or slapstick. Which eliminates 98% of movies.
And, which leaves romantic comedy. We could go on and on about Borat, which I did happen to see, and which I did laugh at, but which I felt smarmy about. Borat, you see, fails in category 3: no slapstick. And why? Because I do not like to see people behaving stupidly, or taking advantage of others' goodness, and the premise of Borat does both. Brings out the lowest aspects of character: "Let's find some well-meaning, unsuspecting hick, trap him into being embarrassing or racist, or maybe WE can just embarrass him, and then the audience will laugh uproariously!" I find that, well, unfunny. Uncomfortable. Unethical.
OK, call me old-fashioned. Call me humorless. Oh heck, call me a spoil sport. But I feel badly that I laughed at various scenes in Borat. The scene where the kids at the park are scared witless when the ice-cream truck offers not frozen treats but a ferocious bear--that is the essence of comedy, the epitome of "out-of-place," but to laugh at kids who are genuinely terrified? What kind of sadistic person is THAT?
But Borat is not the subject of my post tonight. No, it's the new "romantic comedy," Gray Matters. I actually accompanied my spouse to a pre-release screening of this "romantic comedy," and I found the film to be neither romantic nor a comedy. Why even bother to write about it, then? Because I was surprised by the film. It starts out innocently enough--a cute couple who live in the same apartment and share all turn out to be brother and sister rather than lovers. And they decide it's time to find mates; the guy (Thomas Cavanagh) has a too-cute meet with a happens-to-be-available dog owner in the park (Bridget Moynahan) and within two days they're engaged. The left-out sister (Heather Graham) gets jealous, and wants in on the relationship with the newbie, and her shrink says it's natural she'd be competing, given the inseparability the sibs had before.
So far, it seems like it could be cute, but it gets nasty when a drunken girl-to-girl kiss convinces the sis that she's gay. Could be a plot twist that gets ironed out in the end...or so I hoped, but NOOOOOO, THAT'S THE WHOLE MOVIE!! The point is that a girly-girl like bleached-blond Heather Graham is really gay, and becomes liberated by 1) casting off her shrink, and 2) going to a gay bar, picking up her boss, (cut to Heather emerging from boss' apartment next morning) and leaping with joy a la Mary Tyler Moore when yes, it's confirmed she LIKES "sex" with a woman! I feel cheated. Not only was Heather Graham the most unconvincing lesbian imaginable; not only was the message that "lesbians can be pretty" too far a stretch for this flimsy plot, but if you're going to make a pro-lesbian movie, don't make the transition, from dawning of the possibility to its ecstatic consummation, cover the space of two days. This was supposed to be a movie that meets my criteria; my night out at the cinema, and all I got was...disgusted! Oh, I don't care if some girl wants to be a lesbian...just don't try to wrap that up in the normality of some boy-meets-girl cover.
I think my husband owes me a better movie for our night out. And it better NOT be "300." Violates my criterion number 1.