Feeling like a teenager again, “The Gift”

The Gift

I’d like to personally thank Joel Edgerton for “The Gift” for making me like being scared again. Not since I gave up horror flicks back in the 80’s due to my hyper guilt feelings/PTSD while watching “Fun House”, have I enjoyed a scary movie. Thank you also for not having to gore us to death. There was less violence in this film than Straight Outta Compton.

And both actors were excellent. Rebecca Hall made what could have been a whiney female role, seem not only plausible, but sympathetic. Jason Bateman, as usual, kicks ass. I mean, come on, this guy excels at comedy (Bad Words, Arrested Development) and at drama (DisConnect, very underrated film) and now this.
And let’s not leave out Gordo the Weirdo (Edgerton’s character in The Gift) since he not only wrote and directed the whole thing, but played the third pivotal role as well! Superb, superb, he also made a creepy guy seem just a smidge enough normal to keep us guessing the entire movie (and that’s not a spoiler, there’s more twists and turns in this than Rodeo Drive, trust me).

Probably most fun on the big screen, but no matter where, see it to experience the old roller coaster days, but none of the violence induced vomit of Jason in Halloween-esque suspense.

Mo Moments, Mo Anguish: Bad Words

 

“Bad Words” is very much a weaker  companion piece to Bad Santa and that’s a shame.  Certainly Jason Bateman has a cute factor that Billy Bob Thornton did not.  It’s the writing that falls short for me,  and this is my fresh take with only noting the IMDB ratings (Bad Words at 7.6 and Bad Santa 7.2).  I haven’t even looked at Rotten Tomatoes yet, in an attempt to be a movie blogger pioneer.

 

Here’s why Bad Santa is superior:

 

More moments:  In ‘Santa’, there were more moments between Billy Bob and his ‘romantic interest’, and we actually see how they met, which to a romantic is always fun to watch. 

 

Having Jason’s motive be mysterious for the first two thirds of the film is fine, but a great script can still tease its audience with a few emotional fits and starts.  Yes, the sex scenes in “Words” are funny, but unless we see a glint of reflection in Bateman, it remains flat and slapstick-ish.

 

More fleshed out side kicks:  Tony Cox, Bernie Mac and John Ritter absolutely made the movie Bad Santa almost as much as Billy Bob did.  Their comic timing, like Ritter’s squeamish reactions to Bernice Mac’s orange eating bombasity is a classic. 

 

In “Words” Katherine Hahn and Allison Janey aren’t give enough screen time to help round out the plot.  Both are great actresses (Hahn most recently as the outspoken sexually confused wife Afternoon Delight and a nerdy scream in We Are the Millers and Janey is a master at sarcastic comedy “Juno” and “The Way Way Back”).

 

More angst for the little boy sidekick:  In Bad Santa, our chubby friend gets wedgies, has a pathetic runny nose, and has a close to comatose grandma (Cloris Leachman!!!!!!!) as a guardian. 

 

In “Words” we don’t see the Middle Eastern boy (Rohan Chand) get bullied until the last scene of the movie, the dad is merely a helicopter parent who makes his kid stay in a second rate hotel.  I’ve learned in screen writing courses that you must make your protagonists suffer and for both Bateman and Chand  their lives are simply too easy for acclaimed movie land.   

 

The “Bad Words” sound track is hard driving blues that fits perfectly with the slow motion scenes of tomfoolery, but those don’t equate meaningful moments for the viewer, more like cotton candy that evaporates in our minds.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I did like this film overall though not my internet-dating-site date who let me pay for both tickets and who left 15 cnets as a tip for his beerL  But my revelation to start heading out solo more often (with an eye out for intelligent, witty men over 50) is a positive learning experience.  In addition, any time this school marm sees a movie where intellectualism is aspired to, is one happy evening for me .

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