Wednesday, March 21, 2007


From what I hear the critics have all panned this flick, as if it were out to impress critics.

Maybe they object to the gay jokes, both visual and verbal, or the slapstick clowning, including pratfalls (or whatever the equivalent on a motorcycle might be called), or the otherwise childishness of some of the humor.

All I know is, I saw it with a friend and our little boys and we all laughed our asses off, often for different reasons. Not many movies can do that.

Maybe you have to be a middle-aged man, or pre-teen boy, to get it. But I doubt it.

William Macey has never been funnier, or better (but only because he always seems to be at the top of his game, whatever he does). Put this role with—well, almost any other he’s done, but I’d choose his role in THE COOLER—one from the opposite end of the acting spectrum, and no one out there can top him.

Without this role he’s one of our best actors, with this role he’s the best. He outdoes Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell on the comedy end, and has already outdone most of the top actors on the serious end. Only Alec Baldwin has shone this kind of range, but even he hasn’t gone this far, or low some might say, in any of his comic turns.

But all the actors in this flick are first rate and all do their usual fine job, only in a way that makes it clear they’re doing it for fun as well as money. I’m not a big fan of Tim Allen’s, and his scenes might be the least interesting to me, but they work.

Travolta gets to make fun of his image, a little, and play the opposite, or unexposed side of the characters he usually plays, not to any artsy end, or psychologically deep revelatory end—it’s a broad comedy after all. But he does it well, as always.

The only one of the four main characters who seems out of place is Martin Lawrence. When I first saw him in Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING, I thought he stole the movie. I guess a lot of Hollywood felt that way, as he instantly was put on the road to stardom. But once he arrived there, he seemed to fall apart in his private life and be bouncing off the walls of his creative talents in his work, as if being as unique as he originally was, was too much of a burden to bear. Not the first time we’ve seen that.

But in WILD HOGS, despite the broadness of the comedy, something he is a master of, he seems subdued, as if, as the token “black man,” he is being forced to represent something more refined, or restrictive, or reserved, than this comedy is meant to include.

But he still does his job well and adds to the general fun and movement of the narrative.

Marisa Tomei also seems mis-or-under-used in her small role in this flick, but she’s still fun to watch work.

She unfortunately never seemed to catch on in Hollywood, in that way that paves the road to stardom, as if people really did believe the rumors that she was mistakenly awarded the Oscar for her role in MY COUSIN VINNY.

Not me. I was glad she won. She was so great in that role, she reminded me of every reason I had as a kid to fall for those exotic, to my Irish-American clan and background, Italian-American girls in the neighborhood or nearby. Because she was “cute” and sexy while still being as authentically that woman as anyone who has ever done that character before, and there have been many. I would have loved to see what she might have done with THE SOPRANOS.

I was so happy to see her in this flick, even in an unfortunately minor role, that I couldn’t stop smiling at the first sight of her, looking as cute as ever. Until they did a close up, that made her face seem a little too smooth and stiff and I couldn’t help wondering, not her fault but the times, what she may have had done to it and got distracted from her usual great job doing exactly what the script calls for.

Not even to mention Ray Liotta’s always weird intensity being used beautifully for the comedy it creates in this film, and other acting cameos I don’t want to give away that were just as pleasurable as seeing Travolta in the much bigger comeback role in PULP FICTION.

Hey, it ain’t John Ford or Kurasawa, but it made me laugh ‘til I cried. And a lot of other people I’ve since talked to as well. None of them artists or “in the business” or anything other than “normal” “working” people, but like the point made by Preston Sturges in his SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS, sometimes, especially in tough times, (need I say like these?) the best thing an artist can do is give us something to make us laugh, even until we cry.

1 comment:

AlamedaTom said...

Hmmm. Sounds like a perfect DVD rental to me.

I'm a huge fan of Macy too. He was so perfect in Fargo. Also great in Boogie Nights.

~ Tom