Give Thanks for Turkeys 2016!

11/25/2016  By  Front Row Central     No comments

Like many of our American readers, we here at Front Row Central are spending Thanksgiving gorging ourselves on smoked turkeys, awkwardly tiptoeing around politics with obnoxious uncles and in-laws, or otherwise hanging out with friends and waiting for the weekend madness to die down.

We’ll get back to regularly scheduled reviews soon, but there’s just one more item on our agenda: It’s time once again to give thanks for the terrible movies that give us the bitter fuel to continue doing what we do!

ASH IS THANKFUL FOR: CELLULAR (2004)

Prior to taking on the roles of eternal patriot Captain America and the lead of a Bong Joon-Ho film, Chris Evans made a career out of being the guy who slightly elevated some otherwise not-so-great films. One of these is Cellular, in which Evans (freshly dumped by Jessica Biel) answers a call on his (now ancient) cell phone only to hear the frightened voice of Kim Basinger on the other end. Nasty kidnapper Jason Statham is going to kill her family! What will Chris Evans do? Recruit the help of Sergeant William H. Macy and save her, of course. This film is by no means a good action movie, but it’s hard not to enjoy Statham’s villainy.

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In this poster, Chris Evans is literally running through his minutes.

It’s sort of delightful to see the movie take itself much, much too seriously when it has “I need a phone charger!!” as a plot point. It’s billed as a “crime thriller” which is generous at best, really. Even the poster is bizarrely desaturated for a movie full of bright colors and and gasping melodrama. Although, Kim Basinger does kill a dude, I don’t want to paint the movie as too chipper or Basinger’s character as too much of a damsel in distress. Cellular is just one of those odd movies that, despite having little in the way of substance, has stuck with me. I’m thankful for movies with that unique property, because not all art has to be bombast or greatness or have a ponderous, philosophical point. Sometimes it can just be fun schlocky garbage.

JOE IS THANKFUL FOR: THE LADY IN THE WATER (2006)

Saying you appreciate Lady in the Water, of all possible M. Night Shyamalan films, feels like high treason for a film critic. But you know what? I honestly kinda do. It’s a film deeply entrenched in the logic of bedtime stories, and Shyamalan’s desire to create a dark fairy tale for his children is nothing if not admirable. Where it stumbles is in biting off waaay more thematic weight than any one film could ever conceivably chew, and completely chokes on it. Every resident in Paul Giamatti’s apartment building has a purpose within the overarching story, from the kid who reads the secrets of the universe from a cereal box, to the snooty film critic who gets what he goddamn deserves, to Shyamalan himself, who for some reason plays a writer foretold to change the course of human history.

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Also, Giamatti’s character is named Cleveland Heep. Don’t tell me that isn’t a sex joke.

It’s all a bunch of overblown madness in service of a tale about superintendent Giamatti helping fairy tale creature Bryce Dallas Howard get back home through a hole in his swimming pool. The film’s head is lodged firmly up its own ass, but I still admire Shyamalan for attempting to see how much further he could push. It’s hard to be thankful for a film that forces us to take seriously terms like narfs, scrunts and tartutics, but Shyamalan sticks to his guns all the way and never apologizes for it. I’m thankful for Lady in the Water, because pretentious chest-thumping aside, it represents the last moment where Shyamalan still 100% believed in his abilities as a storyteller. A whacked-out and self-serving storyteller, but a storyteller nonetheless.

MARTY IS THANKFUL FOR: REMEMBER ME (2010)

If you know anything about this movie, then you know the only important thing about this movie: This film is probably better known as “the Robert-Pattinson-9/11-out-of-nowhere” movie. If you don’t know what I mean (and you shouldn’t), I’ll explain: Absolutely nothing in this movie matters except the last five minutes, where it’s revealed that all of the family drama we’ve sat through takes place in early September 2001, and in the last few minutes, R-Patz is hanging out in his dad’s office which is -gasp- in the World Trade Center and it’s September 11!

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“Jet fuel…steel beams… Ehh, I’ll read this later.”

Why am I grateful for this terrible, exploitative, tacky garbage? Because it’s honestly nice to have some common ground to work from when trying to talk to someone about badness. Remember Me’s “twist” is so obviously stupid that it sets a baseline. Universally, people’s responses when they learn about this movie is the same “wait… what?” that you’re experiencing right now. Even if you have a “Never Forget” sticker on your Dodge Ram, you learn about Remember Me and say “Damn, that’s tasteless.” And this Thanksgiving, when tensions are high and communications are breaking down, it’s important to be able to find a common denominator. If you can agree on what absolute badness is, then you have a place to start.

We here at Front Row Central wish you a happy and stress-free Thanksgiving!

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