Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Funniest movie review ever?

I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a cheerleader movie. I was going to say "for a good cheerleader movie," but the truth is, I'll settle for a decent one. Fired Up! is just such an animal. Standard fare, not as good as some, better than most, it's in theaters now.

Let me repeat, this is "standard fare," by-the-books, could-not-be-more-ABC-123 movie making. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

You know the formula:
1. Movie starts, we meet our feckless football player heroes
2. Ten minutes in, our heroes make their fateful decision (in this case — gasp! — to attend cheer leading rather than football camp)
3. Twenty minutes in and — wouldn'tcha know? — complications arise (the boy's girl already has a boyfriend)
D. Forty minutes in (or so) and it's all or nothin' — there's no going back now
E. Twenty minutes left, everything seems hopeless, all is lost (betrayal! eviction! blah blah blah!)
Finally, five minutes to go and — holy wrap-up, Batman! — all is resolved (our heroes return in the nick of time, the nemesis team is confronted, the boy gets the girl)

Mind-blowingly innovative? Revolutionary? Ground-breaking? Not so much.

Imagine my surprise then, when scanning the reviews on RT, I read this snippet—and from a fresh (in RT terms, that means positive) review, no less: "[Fired Up!] violates the most basic rules of cinematic storytelling grammar." Remember folks—this is a boy-meets-girl—boy-loses-girl—boy-gets-girl—cheerleader movie.

I had to read on. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy read:

Fired Up! is rather a kind of anti-movie, peculiar and terrible in the most garish ways conceivable, closer perhaps to surrealism than legitimate Hollywood narrative cinema. First-time director Will Gluck and first-time writer Freedom Jones haven't just made a crappy cheerleader movie, they've made something that violates tens of rules governing classical filmmaking

"Anti-movie?" Really?

Even if it's by accident, Fired Up! is perhaps the most experimental film released to mainstream American cinemas in months, if not years.

Did I mention, it's a cheerleader movie?

Gluck's direction doesn't just exist separately from Fired Up!, as is often the case when it appears that a filmmaker is trying to privately amuse himself when given a rote script; his direction actively distracts from the movie, as though he actually had a vendetta against the story and wished to make it disappear.

Wait — as though who actually has a vendetta here? I'm just saying.

So much of the film is just so damn strange! The film's requisite villain, an arrogant college freshman, is associated on the soundtrack exclusively with rock songs composed before his birth, from both the '70s and '80s; this makes no sense whatsoever, but it is a theme which is never dropped or treated with anything but the gravest sincerity.

By the 70s and 80s, I presume he means the late 90s? Tubthumping, by Chumbawumba, was released in 1997 and Lou Bega's Mambo #5 in 1999.

But, really, why sweat the small stuff? When you can just say things like:

by far the most common tack for the gags in this film to take is that they are befuddling. Not befuddling in the sense, "Why would someone think this is funny?" but in the sense, "What the hell is happening?" And that applies both to the rapid-fire, colorful, completely opaque dialogue as well as the narrative framework itself. If the film is not funny, and it very much is not, I think this is mostly because it is so absurd - bearing in mind that absurdism, in its pure form, has nothing to do with comedy and everything to do with anarchy and nihilism.
followed closely by:
I have basically just described a bad comedy, and that is because Fired Up! is a bad comedy, and even a bad film, by any standard yardstick. But its badness is aggressive, anxious: it is not the result of doing things poorly, but of doing things that have no earthly reason to be done whatsoever. Looking over what I've written, I see that I have not communicated, and probably cannot communicate, how much of Fired Up! violates the most basic rules of cinematic storytelling grammar; and for this reason it transfixed me body and soul. The film is a disaster that has chanced its way into being a bold, terrifying experiment, where the idea of "good" or "bad", or even the simpler concepts "works" and "doesn't work" don't really matter. It amazed and delighted me simply by dint of existing so far outside of what actual filmmaking is supposed to look like.
Part of me wishes that every movie were so callously disrespectful to the rules; cinema would be a much more exhilarating artform. We'd also probably all be insane by now.

Let me end by saying: I have basically just recapped a very bad review, and that is because it is a bad review, and even bad writing, by any yardstick. The review chanced its way into being a hilarious and entertaining bit of writing, where the idea of "relevant" and "irrelevant," or even the simpler concepts of "accurate" and "inaccurate," don't really matter. Part of me wishes more reviewers were so unconcerned with the basic rules governing artistic critique; movie reviews would be far more entertaining. This review amazed and amused me simply by dint of existing and being so flat-out wrong. Perhaps the author is insane.


JMEC said...


Anonymous said...

U'll love this. coming soon.

Baconnaise... or Baconnaise Lite?