Thursday, June 20, 2002

The Movie I Watched Last Night XXII
Inspired by Joe, proprietor of my new box hostel, who watched no fewer than six (6) movies this past weekend, I took in a double feature last night.

American Pie
Not quite sure what all the hype surrounding this movie was all about because I didn't find it very funny or shocking. There were some bright spots -- Eugene Levy and Eddie Kaye Thomas, whose roles I particularly enjoyed -- but otherwise I thought the plot was passe, most of the acting substandard, and the movie undeserving of all the praise it garnered, much less a sequel. That said, I was surprised by how much the scene in which Chris Klein's character left his lacrosse game early in order to compete in a jazz choir contest with Mena Suvari's character touched me. One line even made me tear up. Weird! Oh, Alyson Hannigan's portrayal of a band geek was also fun, especially with her trademark line, "One time? At band camp?" But on the whole, feh.

Kramer vs. Kramer
OK, so I was 6 when this was released, and it predates Dustin Hoffman's role in Tootsie by three years, but I remember the Mad magazine parody of this film quite fondly, as well. As one of the first motion pictures to seriously address divorce and the effects it can have on a couple, their friends, and their children, it's a slightly mixed message movie. Message one: If you're a hustle-bustle ad exec in New York, chances are your partner's unhappy and you're on the way to a divorce. Message two: If you abandon your son unnanounced, move to California, and seek therapy before returning a year and a half later to claim custody, you're still totally fit as a mother. Message three: You can't raise your son single-handedly without losing your job. Some of those messages might actually be valid, but I felt like this movie -- while good -- could have had more of a point. Dustin Hoffman's character doesn't really redeem himself as a reinvented parent. And Meryl Streep's character's ambiguous decision at the end not to take the custody she won in court leaves viewers hanging. That decision might have had more repercussions on everyone involved -- at least legally -- than what had happened so far. But maybe that's why the movie just stopped: the legal denouement would've been boring -- and perhaps the ambiguity was the overarching theme. Maybe it's for the best that Justin Henry's character stayed with his father in the end. Trivial bit: Henry was the youngest person ever nominated for an Oscar (supporting actor) -- he was 8 when the movie was released.

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