Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's the little things...

I'm always blabbing about how the movie selection at sea is completely nonsensical. Which, of course, is not a complaint. Today one of the crew was letting me look through a collection of dvd's that he had with him and he explained that he had watched most of his dvd's a thousand times so he had borrowed his kids' collection. I thought this was great, since I'm a total sucker for kid's movies and can't wait to watch Chicken Little and Open Season sometime, but today I settled on Zoom: Academy for Superheroes.

Why not? I really didn't know anything about it except that it was big budget, so it should have good special effects and it has Tim Allen in it, so it shouldn't take itself too seriously. And I like super hero flicks and kids-kicking-ass movies are always the best. If you don't expect too much and just want to be entertained, this kind of thing can be perfect.

And really, based on the criteria that I just laid out, it was perfect. Special effects were spot on, the visual presentation was great, the story silly but you could roll with it, the movie made fun of itself and was slap-stick goofy. I really wanted to just like it, just enjoy the schlocky comic-ness of it, but a couple of things stuck in my craw and just ruined the whole damn thing (ok, didn't ruin it all, I still enjoyed it, but pissed me off enough that I'm sitting here tapping away about it).

It is always the little details that fuck things up. Just a couple of slightly different changes and it wouldn't have left any bad taste in my mouth. The one that was the tipping point is a stupid one; I'll concede that right here at the beginning. The whole schtick of the movie is there are these sort of weirdo outcast kids who have special powers who are brought together by the military to turn into this super team. One of the team members is the requisite hot redhead with psychic powers. You'd think I'm getting in a huff because this is such a blatant Jean Grey rip-off, but no, I just let that go. Cheesy "let's throw together a super team" movies are always ripping off classic comic heroes. It happens. But to introduce her to us, they show a scene in high school where the cheerleaders are treating her like shit and she makes the cafeteria food attack them, so all in all a completely satisfying scene. For the record, I don't hate cheerleaders, kind of actually love that they exist and plan on watching the Bring It On sequel that is in this same movie collection, but we all knew some cheerleaders who were straight-up bitches and who deserved more than anything to have cafeteria food explode all over them. So anyway, I like this girl from the start. The actress playing her is so unbelievably beautiful, but in a quiet kind of way and she plays the character well.

So everything goes great and they win (suprise!) and they have a stupid back to their daily life sequence. This was painful and idiotic enough as these things inherently are, but, aside from the little princess girl's bit which was kind of cute and didn't make you hate the director, the rest of them were nothing except cringe-inducing. Part of what made them so obnoxious is how they were obviously supposed to show how these outcast kids were now socialized and included and celebrated by their families and peers. Don't they get that we liked the kids because they were outcasts and weirdos? Show that they've learned to deal with their differences, but don't put the fat kid on a soccer team and DON'T DON'T DON'T turn the hot redheaded outcast into a fucking cheerleader!!!! Again, I have nothing against cheerleaders as a whole though I will concede that as a rule teenage girls who become cheerleaders tend towards the dark side. But high school is a dark time, we all tended towards the dark side in our own little ways back then. I just don't want my cheesy fun movies to feed up evil cheerleader nightmare bitches as the foil to the cool outcast that they treat like dirt and then after showing me how likable and fun she is and giving her super powers to show me an after-the-adventure sequence about how she is now using her superpowers as a cheerleader!!!! Let her and her hot super boyfriend be all cute and obnoxious teen-lovebirdy but don't turn her into the evil thing you started out pitting her as different from. Look, she'll show those bitches; oh look, now she is one. Good job, geniuses.

So I warned you that this was something stupid to get pissed off about, but I'm blogging about it. Blogging is all about petty rages over things that are too stupid to actually discuss in real life (though had I watched this movie with my friends instead of here in solitary confinement, I'd be having this conversation in realtime, but we can pretend like I am socially savvy enough to not waste actual quality time on such petty complaints). The second major complaint is perhaps a little more cogent.

So they assembled this super team and they bring them in and decide to have this stupid try-out bit. The whole try-out thing was dumb to start with since they had already shown us little a-day-in-the-life sequences for each of the ones who would be picked so it wasn't like we didn't already know who the super heroes were going to be. Still, it was kind of funny so I can't really hate on it being in the movie. I can hate on their casting for it. I'm not Mr. Super-PC. I get exhausted by political correctness as much as the next guy, but you can pull your head out of your ass and show a little bit of sense when you cast for shit like this. I don't care that the whole team was white kids. Big fucking deal, not the only superhero movie and every silly film doesn't have to be an equal opportunity event, but if you are going to have a team of lily white kids, do you have to have the casting sequence where every person not picked for the team isn't white and has lame-ass super powers? I mean, come on. So you want to have a little American Idol moment so Tim Allen can play Simon to Courtney Cox's Paula (and Chevy Chase's Randy Jackson), fine. Ha ha, get some laughs with it. And you want to have a team that is all white kids, again, I don't care. Fine, do it, I liked the kids they cast for the parts. Just make all the lame kids white too. Or most of the lame kids white... or even one of them! Because when you make all the lame kids black/hispanic/asian/mixed and all the super kids white, I can't just enjoy my cheesy damn movie and instead have to think about racial politics and if that is really what I wanted to be doing I'd have been watching The Color Purple (ok, so if they had The Color Purple on this boat, I would so be watching it instead but you know what I mean). This isn't a real super hero movie, leave the racial metaphors for the X-Men, just make your Tim Allen feel-good family fun flick. Having lot's of people of color for extras doesn't make the movie racially sensitive, it makes it racially distracting. It doesn't make me furious or troubled, it just makes me think whoever did the casting for the extras is an idiot.

So anyway, should you watch the movie? If you are stuck on a boat in the middle of the pacific ocean, completely cut off from society and facing a limited number of movie options like moi, then I heartily recommend it. You'll love it and it will be a nice break from Steven Segal flicks. If you are in a movie store and could pick anything you want? You could do worse and if you have the stomach for kid action movies, you'll probably enjoy it. It is worth watching just for the little blonde girl with super strength's outfits and temper tantrums.

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