ESSAYWHUMAN?!!!??!: Five Totally Unnecessary, Completely Implausible Parts of Popular Films
Our universe is often fueled by vicious lies and dangerous rumors.
That’s then reflected in our art, and its connection to us consumers.
We watch movies to relate, or escape, and if able to combine both, great.
But there’s an unspoken agreement that the viewer will suspend disbelief.
Tell any tale you wanna tell, so long as it doesn't take us out of the movie.
The following is not an appraisal of crazy stunts, or fantastical story lines.
If Tom Cruise needs to jump out of air plane at 56, there's no begrudging his kicks.
This is about filmakers caught in the lowest form of lie, the one told for no reason.
These are specific, random, unforced movie-making errors that stick out like a compound fracture.
Today’s Five Spot is “ESSAYWHUMAN?!!!??!: Five Totally Unnecessary, Completely Implausible Details From Popular Movies"
The Spencer Boarding School for Girls in Wildwood, New Jersey, Overlooking the Skyline of New York City
The Professional (1994)
Has anyone watched The Professional recently?
I dug it thoroughly as a teenage misanthrope in the mid-nineties, with its ultra-violent stylized darkness from French Director Luc Besson, scenery-chewing-going-ham Gary Oldman performance, understatedly bad-ass anchoring performance by Jean Reno, Danny Aiello being Danny Aiello, and most importantly the screen debut of future star Natalie Portman, age 12, in a role that makes Jodi Foster's 12-year-old-prostitute in Taxi Driver seem as breezy as the bee girl from the Blind Melon video by comparison.
Watching now, it’s hard to ignore the problematic story arc of unrequited love, between an aging mob hit-man and his 12-year-old orphaned aspiring-paid-assassin protégé.
But Mathilda going to war with a fleet of DEA agents, or Danny Aiello's mob boss paying her cash allowance out of his deceased hit-man’s will is what Luc Besson leads you to accept watching this movie.
What's harder to accept is the subplot about her coke-dealer daddy pre-paying a year of board and tuition in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Or Portman going back to the headmistress in the final scene, coming clean about the horrors she's seen, potting Leon's houseplant in the grass of the school quad, as tribute to her deceased unrequited lover/guardian/hit-man-mentor, then scrolling up to see Wildwood sprawl out into some trees to the Hudson River and overlook a still-undiminished-by-9/11 New York City skyline to the tune of "Fragile" by Sting.
The only thing Wildwood has to do with New York City is you may meet some Jersey-Shore-rejects who couldn’t hack Seaside and make the two-hour trek south to party in South Jersey’s #1 shore town to find drunk clowns.
Wildwood doesn't have a prestigious private boarding school for girls. Wildwood does have girls like this, on the boards or the beach, possibly getting into some drama with the seasonal summer police.
And Therein Lies the Rub...
There’s been a lot of cringeworthy-to-creepy moments in John Travolta’s post-Pulp-Fiction-renaissance era of his career.
Whatever’s happening with his hair, the Scientology affiliation, and who knows what Battlefield Earth was supposed to be.
But Face/Off, ridiculous as it was, featuring fellow then-A-lister-and-clearly-batshit-crazy Nicolas Cage, wasn’t one of those.
And we’re obviously going to suspend disbelief on the whole “face-switching” concept.
Or the explosive, flying-boat battle scene at the end.
What we can't forgive is that face-brush move Travolta and his family do throughout the movie.
I don’t know who to blame for this nonsense, so I’m gonna have to face-mash everyone involved like they were Draymond Green.
Face/Off made me begin to question Hong Kong Action Flick Directing Legend John Woo.
It was also around the time I really began to find Travolta a bit frightening.
Nor can I recall Joan Allen being in a romantic lead role that I've seen since.
Every time a face gets scanned by someone else's hand, my soul starts to wince.
Ed Norton's Neo-Nazi Kamikaze, Reverse Two-Hand, Skinhead Slam
American History X (1998)
American History X was a lot to handle.
This treatise on racial animus is sadly probably more prescient today than it was in '98.
The curbstomp is still a scene that will make you look away.
Young Eddie Furlong going out like Cain in Menance in the final bathroom scene, after being shown the error of his ways both by his reformed convict brother, plus his black English teacher, felt a bit message-driven but still made some sense.
But there's one scene here that I’ll never be able to accept.
Which is Edward Norton, Hollywood-listed-six-foot (read: 5’7”) taking his fat skinhead friends to the Venice beach's famed pick-up-basketball courts on the strand, where they proceed to kick ass, take names and win games.
When he subs in, Norton tears off his shirt to reveal a giant swastika across his chest, as his all-black opponents stare without reprisal.
Shortly thereafter, Norton delivers a reverse two-handed slam on point game.
I’ve walked or ridden past, occasionally stopped and watched, countless pick-up basketball games in Venice.
Those games could lead to fights over a lot less than being a showy, pick-up ball vessel for White Supremacy.
You’ve probably seen the White Man Can’t Jump treatment of that scene.
Some white men can jump. Shout out to my man Rex Chapman.
But that doesn't mean Edward Norton can jump high enough to dunk.
And not on a Venice strand court, especially among skinhead punks.
Someone woulda taken lumps, or maybe resorted to popping the trunk.
Neo-Nazis likely don't watch/play much basketball, so no need to sell us this junk.
The Particular Set of Skills to Pay the U2 360° Tour Euro Tour Bills
There’s a lot of crazy things about Taken.
Liam Neeson was six years older than Wilford Brimley was while filming Cocoon, before Taken made him an action star.
Neeson subsequently made two Taken sequels, plus some Fakin’ Taken flicks (Run All Night, The Commuter) that were also relatively successful.
Dad having a particular set of skills enabling him to dissemble an entire fleet of armed-terrorist Albanians.
It’s a popcorn flick, no need to overthink it.
Still the foundation of Taken’s premise is built on a lazy, uninspired, ludicrously unnecessary lie.
Neeson’s screen daughter is an American college teenager in Summer 2008.
That means her and her bestie are starting to shift from Facebook to MySpace.
They might be experimenting with intoxicants, or exploring sexual identity.
Going to Europe for a backpacking adventure is a bucket-list item for many upper-middle-class college-age kids.
These kids missed the Grateful Dead, and mighta even been too young to follow Phish prior to their mid-2000’s hiatus.
But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t first go to Paris, to see what they could see.
Here’s what 19-year-old-girls traveling abroad for three months in 2008 weren't doing:
Traveling across Europe to pay $300 nightly to see a 50-year-old Bono open each night of his identical-set stadium-show with “Vertigo”.
Uno, Dos, Tres, Quatorze....Hel-lo, Hel-lo...Hell No.
Slob On The Kolb
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
2008 wasn’t that long ago.
And fairly easy to verify on the Eagle side thru Google, you know.
Silver Lining’s Playbook was a good novel my sister gifted to me years ago, written by a former teacher at my high school, whose sister graduated in the same class as me.
Those things, plus being a Birds movie not starring Mark Wahlberg, gives the film adaption an automatic pass.
I don’t really care that no one can do a reasonable Philly accent.
Or that Robert DeNiro doesn’t bother to try, because at least he seemingly tried to act, which is all too rare for him post-2000.
I'll gloss over having never heard of “homemades”, and LA friends asking about them like it was a cheese steak for after this came out.
I’ll even accept parlaying a football game with a dance recital, as if any bookie takes that action, or the game getting a dramatic final-second sell treatment in the movie, while I was actually in the stadium that day watching the Birds destroy the Cowboys 44-6.
I wouldn't debate that Donovan McNabb’s star was fading by 2008.
But anyone telling me Silver Linings' doting, homemade-making, casual-fan mom, which somehow garnered Jacki Weaver a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, woulda worn a Kolb jersey in 2008, I'll stomp out that false claim like Clay Matthews did Kolb's Eagle career on 2010 opening day in Green Bay.
Poor Mr Kolb, we hardly knew ye.
Any readers who have their own nominees to add to this list, feel free to share them with us in the Comment Section, or via your social-media weapon of choice.
Until Next Time, Which Won't Be Nearly as Long as Last Time, Girls & Boys!
Peace and Love,