October 1st 2017
Today I watched three films and two football matches. It wasn’t a particularly busy Sunday. Although, that being said, we did manage to unpack our holiday suitcase, clean the entire house, do the weekly shop, and go out for a coffee before coming home at 11am to settle down for a football/film day on the sofa.
The football took up the first half of the afternoon, and the films filled most of the evening. We started our movie marathon with Stranger Than Fiction, which would’ve been a really good film if anyone other than Will Ferrell had’ve played the lead character.
Naturally, with a Will Ferrell film you expect a certain degree of slapstick comedy, but Stranger Than Fiction — although it has some funny dialogue — isn’t really a traditional Will Ferrell movie. It’s like Will Ferrell’s version of Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love — it’s just kind of weird that he’s there. Maybe it’s just because I’m not a huge Will Ferrell fan, but chuck any other actor in that role and it’s instantly a better film.
Put Joseph Gordon-Levitt opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal and it would work for me. Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal just isn’t believable. Ryan Gosling and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Or Ralph Fiennes. Or Keanu Reeves. Or even Tom Hanks in a weird way. Or Jake Gyllenha– actually on second thoughts that last one doesn’t work. But nor does Will Ferrell.
Then we watched Crash, which has a slightly different tone, and turns out isn’t about 9/11 at all. Netflix’s synopsis of Crash says: “In post Sept-11 Los Angeles, tensions erupt when the lives of people from all walks of life converge during a 36-hour period”
In my head, I was picturing that the ‘Crash’ was, y’know… 9/11, but it turns out the film isn’t about 9/11 at all. Instead, it’s one of the most fascinating, telling, thrilling and honest depictions of racism. I think my sister once recommended it to me, and I remember her saying it was really good, so that, and the 9/11 intrigue persuaded me to put it on. But it even though it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was brutal.
Then on a very different tone we watched Baywatch. Now, I’ve not heard, read, or seen one positive review of Baywatch, but Zac Efron is on my list. There are a list of actors whose films I’ll always watch basically no matter what. Those actors include Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, and Justin Timberlake.
The Baywatch movie was… exactly what you’d expect the Baywatch movie to be except with more fireworks and a couple more High School Musical references than you might think. It also indirectly breaks the fourth wall a couple of times with it’s repeated self-awareness, but pulls it off surprisingly well.
Once you accept the fact that you’re watching the Baywatch movie and stop trying to take it seriously then it’s easier to enjoy. (That moment came for me exactly three minutes and ten seconds into the film when Dwayne Johnson carries a bleeding man out of the ocean whilst dolphins do frontflips in front of a big red ‘Baywatch’ titlecard tsunami — Yes. Really.)
It has two things in common with modern day comedies (particularly ones staring Zac Efron (particularly Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising)) in that 1) It stops being funny after about 45 minutes when it realises that it does actually have to do some kind of plot, and 2) it tries to be more than a film by attempting to revert and subvert gender stereotypes so many times that at one point a girl literally pulls her top up to distract the bad guy before punching him in the face. Oh and also the fat guy is the tech nerd but he gets the pretty girl.
Three very different films. But each successful in their missions, and entertaining in very different ways.
Until tomorrow, even The Rock would’ve been better than Will Ferrell.