My Only Confession is that I Watch Too Many Bad Films

June 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

A sign of the true escapist: she watches movies even when she knows they’re terrible. Resistantly, I’m admitting this. I’ve perpetrated a crime against culture. Let me illustrate the scene.

My Pops gets “free” movies from work, and it’s always the new releases to DVD that week. Like a fat girl eating her emotions with ice cream, I put on Confessions of a Shopaholic. Years ago I read the book, and found it amusing for being basically junk literature. Everyone sometimes reads trash; it’s the rocky-road ice cream of an otherwise healthy and balanced literary diet. Anyway, given that I knew the book, I was interested in the adaptation–fully aware that it was likely to be the trashy equivalent of its originator.

My expectations for junk were too high. It was absolutely horrible, in every possible regard. It was cheesy, but not in the-amusing-Reese-Witherspoon-in-LegallyBlonde way, but more like sincere in its effort to be legitimate, which was more sad than anything else. The plot was entirely different from the book, set in New York, because for some reason Americans are uncomfortable with other countries, instead of England in the book–although they managed to give us a dashing Brit, who was otherwise a good American capitalist and therefore had the desired politics and looks mixed with the accent. And you know, for the protagonist constantly touting her own fashionista tendencies, she looked like a feathered cupcake exploded all over that perhaps was screaming “Prada!” in a last ditch effort for integrity; it was not a swansong, rather a death rattle–all of which only further discredited the film. Perhaps, one of the best examples is when our hero gets stuffed into the stereotypical “bad bridesmaid dress” and the audience is supposed to react to the comedic horror, except I felt the awful dress was on par if, only mildly worse than the getups she was proudly galavanting around in. As for the acting, it was the only thing that could have possibly overwhelmed the meringue costumes.

The bad bridesmaid dress that is only marginally worse than the fashionable clothes.

The "bad bridesmaid dress" that is only marginally worse than the "fashionable" clothes.

 

Now, don’t think I’m being an ass for picking on a seemingly easy film to target. Frankly, I went in with low expectations, hoping for the typical chick flick plot, having read the book, I pretty much knew how it was supposed to go. With that said, like any genre, there are requirements to meet in order to be a quality example. Confessions of a Shopaholic, meets all the qualifications for the utter crap genre. In a chick flick, for instance, the audience is supposed to pull for the protagonist and follow her through all the ups and downs, rooting for her success in happiness and love (because it’s always love in this genre). I wanted to strangle our hero with her green scarf (in the film, she becomes known as “The Girl in the Green Scarf”).

Other requirements for a chick flick include chemistry between the protagonist and the love interest, and in this film, the relationship shows up out of nowhere, with no real development; everything is moved along through some mysterious force. That force might be Movie Magic. The third criteria is a degree of plausibility. While an audience is willing to suspend their sense of belief, we reserve that mostly for sci-fi, in other words, we like to see events tumble into eachother to create a story that seems while, outlandish, possible. In Confessions of a Shopaholic, nothing made sense. The hero, randomly gets a job at a financial journal despite an awful interview, her obvious lack of normal social skills, or lack of credentials, and from there on it’s a rollercoaster of impossibilities and convenient solutions that, again, would never happen. Time after time, the solution is not hard work, hard times or true sacrifice. Instead it’s a clothing sale of her things that conveniently adds up to the exact amount of her debt. I believe this is called a “deus ex machina”, which was the Greeks way of saying “that makes no fucking sense.” It’d be like watching Thelma and Louise and when they drive off the cliff, Superman shows up and carries them to safety. That, friends is what is wrong with this movie. I’m trying to see it as a parody, but it’s not working.

Now, the main concern I have is that I actually watched the whole bloody thing. I didn’t pull for the protagonist; I kept thinking of what else I could be doing, and yet I endured the movie anyway. Now I feel like the fat girl who eats the ice cream, meanwhile the whole time she thinks about how bad it is for her, but does it anyway. I have decided, I need a healthier diet of film and it’s time to lose “the fat in film”.

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