Heather’s Re-evaluation of 2011

Last year Al and I collaborated on an article full of rash judgments and preconceived notions about the films that were to be released on the public. As these movies came and went I either found myself missing a lot of films that I honestly thought I would see, forgetting about the lesser-known movies we looked at, and at least once being in complete shock at how much I loved a movie I thought I would hate.

I’d like to start this article off with something very important I think you should know about me:

I Am A Dirty Liar 

Why did I say I was going to see all of those movies? I have neither the funds nor the desire to deal with horrible audiences with their screaming babies that for some reason REALLY needed to go see Iron Man 2 in glorious ultra-death volume.  My point is I saw all of one movie in theaters this year, which means I lied about half of the films in our 2011 article. I could have at least checked these out on DVD, but I didn’t even bother to do that:

The trailer for Sucker Punch looked so fantastic that I thought for sure I’d go see it. Instead, all of the bad reviews shoo’d me away. I know, I know; I should be ashamed. The continued assertions from my friends that it’s not that bad have me willing to pop in the DVD, should one of them provide it.

Apparently when I say I will inevitably go watch a movie, I mean I’m just going to sit at home and play Minecraft instead. I still don’t know why, after having gone to see the other three on their opening weekends, that I just totally skipped this one. Maybe it was that nagging feeling that it’s not worth getting excited about. Actually it was definitely that. I bought it, though. No, I didn’t mistype that. I bought this and it’s on its way to my house even though I haven’t watched it, because that’s how much I enjoy watching Captain Jack Sparrow. Shut up.

I was excited to watch Green Lantern (yet another comic character I’m not interested in) for one reason only: The chance to ogle Ryan Reynolds. As I tend to do, I waited until my guinea pigs -I mean friends- paid good money to see this before I made my final decision. I changed my mind after I heard nothing about this movie except that it was awful, and to this day I still don’t want to see it.

I never did get around to seeing Part One, so I still haven’t finished out the Harry Potter series. I’m sure I’ll remedy that soon, if the slightly-threatening insistence of my new friend who has them all on her computer is to be believed. We’re going to watch a marathon of them. All of them. *twitch*

I’m still waiting for this to come out on DVD, because I’d love to see it. Not just riding on the coattails of my nostalgia, The Muppets is supposed to be more than just pretty good. This is the movie I was happiest to hear did better than I expected.

So What Did I See?

 Drew wrote a glowing review of  Captain America so eloquently in support the character and the film that I…still didn’t go watch it but instead didn’t put up a fight when my friends played it on Thanksgiving. If that’s not commitment to the opinions of my respected peers, I don’t know what is. No, really. What is it?

I enjoyed Captain America, but I still don’t take him seriously as a character. I suppose that makes me a terrible person, a failure as a comic book fan and a patriot, but I can live with that. I mean, there are plenty of other beloved characters that I don’t take seriously, either…

 Aha. I’ve figured it out. Captain American and Thor (especially Thor) are characters that I thought for sure would make terrible movies, but I understand why this is working now: Hollywood basically has a dagger at its throat to make these not suck, because Avengers, baby! That’s the only explanation I can come up for it, anyway, because Hollywood throwing out movie after movie based on what’s popular at the moment is generally nothing but a major disaster and yet here we are with a freaking THOR movie that wasn’t bad. What little problems I have with the film stem from the silliness of the comic, so I can’t blame it for that.

And here is my biggest disappointment of the year. Absolutely not because it was a bad movie. On the contrary, Pegg and Frost are still great together, Seth Rogen did a good job voicing Paul, and there were plenty of references to past sci-fi media that made me grin (the Flight of the Navigator one was my favorite).  But…*sigh*. Instead of just focusing on the hilarity of two obsessed sci-fi nerds running across and helping an actual alien, we get shackled with the old “Christians are idiots” ball and chain. You know, because that never gets old.  For two men who have done such incredibly unique things with their films and TV show (Spaced rules, watch it now or I will hurt you), this was inexcusable. Every single thing about the way they handled that aspect of the movie was extremely nasty and mean-spirited which, as a fan of their previous work, is a shocking change in tone. They really alienated me (sorry) with this one, to the point that I don’t care to ever watch it again.

Amazing, described with three words: Actors, backstory, relationships. Everything else about this movie impressed me as well, but those three things had me floored.  I didn’t even give this one the dignity of a thoughtful review, instead just making fun of the fact that it was yet another X-Men movie. I take all of that back, because First Class is fantastic. Not fantastic for a comic film, not fantastic for a prequel.  Just fantastic.

Crow has never tasted this delicious.

16 comments

  1. I have not seen Paul but it saddens me that they take the tired “Christians are idiots” plot-point. Why do movie producers see no issue with condescending a large portion of the public? Don’t they want to make money?
    If Tony the Tiger suggested that Christians are idiots, I would not buy Frosted Flakes. Economically, I don’t see why movie makers like to shoot themselves in the foot.

    • Edit: I suppose they think that Christians don’t go to movies unless they’re billed as “family friendly”, they’re too busy reading the Bible and such. If that’s the case, it’s sad that they’re so uninformed about the population. Heck, Justin on this site is a youth pastor!

      • I’ve noticed that movies treat Christians the same way they treat interracial relationships or homosexuals: They either don’t exist or they seem to be the entire focus of a movie that otherwise shouldn’t really have anything to do with them. These movies come to a halt while it paints them as over-the-top caricatures or givers of sage advice who teach the main characters lessons in tolerance. I look forward to when movies get tired of these stereotypes.

  2. I didn’t choose to go into detail in my own article, but I’m right there with you about Paul. So much of the movie was brilliant, but Kristin Wiig’s story put a big asterisk next to any possible recommendation I could give.

    • I noticed that, and knew what you were talking about as soon as I saw it. I considered not going into much detail, not wanting to spark any religious wars, but this was such a big deal to me that I decided to take the chance. That, and in the past our readers have generally kept things mature in the comments section, so I figured I’d give it a try.

      I was glad you made mention of it in your article.

  3. I agree that making fun of Christians is too easy.
    Then again, I’m from Europe.
    When I saw the movie I thought it was a little too much preaching to the choir, but maybe in America the geek audience isn’t necessarily the choir in this case.

    I think a country where over two thirds of the people believe that evolution either didn’t happen or was guided by God could sure use some Creationism bashing. Even if it seems like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • I think you’re missing my point; it’s irrelevant if you think we Americans deserve some “Creationism bashing” cause you’re so much smarter in Europe.

      Let’s reverse the situation. Imagine you’re going to see the hottest new comedy about a sarcastic alien and his stoner friends. The movie then makes a huge side-plot about how stupid evolution is, and everyone who believes in it. It drives this point home in an aggressive, mean-spirited way. The movie keeps taking breaks from fart jokes to have the characters almost look you in the eye and say “you’re a pathetic idiot for believing in evolution”.
      Would you be ticked off? You sure would. You weren’t going to a science or religious documentary, you were going to a comedy about talking aliens. You shouldn’t have to feel defensive about your beliefs in such an environment, especially when you’re paying good money for the movie to insult you.

    • Nils, I don’t know where your statistics came from, but according to the 2009 Gallup poll only a quarter of America does not believe in evolution.

      I’m with Scott, though- that point is moot. The point is not whether or not it’s “preaching to the choir”, or even whether or not it’s okay to voice your beliefs in your movie (it absolutely is). The point is that this movie was completely derailed by a hateful, nasty and pointless attitude toward people of faith.

      If you haven’t seen the movie, Nils, I suggest you do because it’s entertaining and it sounds like you wouldn’t be offended. If you have (or when you do) I’d like to hear what you thought about that aspect of the movie.

      My final point: Maybe I’m alone in this, but I have a hard time taking the filmmaker’s criticism of a belief in an unprovable deity seriously when it’s coming out of the mouth of a humanoid creature from outer space.

  4. Well, I suppose we could argue for weeks about statistics, about whether I think Europeans are smarter than Americans (I obviously do not), or whether I would be offended by a comedy that offers different viewpoints than mine (I would not).

    I just didn’t see the meanspirited attitude towards people of faith you seem to find so offensive. I just saw two funny guys (slightly less funny without Edgar Wright) and a cgi alien making fun of ignorant, dogmatic, intolerant people of faith.

    Surely ignorant, dogmatic and intolerant people are fair game for ridicule, whatever their beliefs are?

    • Heather’s original post regarding “Paul” was how tired she was of the “Christians are idiots” stereotype. Yes: ignorant, dogmatic and intolerant people are fair game for satire in a comedy, but Heather’s original point was that this is almost always how Christians are portrayed. It is so pervasive in TV and films that as a Christian it really grates on my nerves after a while. You didn’t find the film to be meanspirited, but honestly your first post seemed very meanspirited to me. (You “obviously” don’t think Europeans are smarter than Americans? How obvious is that from your first post?)

      We could continue to argue over the definition of “meanspirited”, or the line between satire and ridicule (I disagree that “ridicule” is appropriate for any belief system, even those I don’t believe in), but I didn’t intend for this thread to be a flame-war. I won’t comment further on this, and apologize if I derailed a thread about 2011 movies.

      So…. how about them Muppets? Great movie!

    • Nils-By the tone of your first paragraph you seem to be on the defensive toward me, so I hope to assure you that in disagreeing with you I’m in no way trying to attack you.

      Why would we need to “argue for weeks” about the statistics? You brought statistics into this discussion when you said that two-thirds of Americans do not believe in evolution, therefore we “could use some Creationism bashing”. Because I have not seen evidence of this number in polls, American media, or my day-to-day life, I question your reasoning in supporting the film’s derailing into “Creationism bashing”.

      I had nothing to say about whether or not you think Europeans are smarter than Americans, so I’m not even going to address that.

      As for you not being offended by the movie, that wasn’t even a point to be argued. That was me suggesting that you see this movie, based on my assumption that you wouldn’t be offended by it and would likely enjoy it. There was quite a bit to enjoy.

      Finally, the point was never whether or not a particular group of people can be ridiculed. My point, maybe misinterpreted, is that this a very tired, overdone stereotype, and one that served to drag the plot down.

      I would like to completely derail this from movies for a moment and put some of my offense toward this in proper light: Not since I was 18 have I lived in a community where my belief system didn’t get me scoffed at or given weird looks. I sit through many arguments and offensive statements that my acquaintances and even people I call my friends make toward Christian beliefs and Christians in general. Any time I see a Christian portrayed on television or in movies it’s either in this incredibly offensive Paul way or the Hallmark unrealistic, naive goober way. That hurts after a while, because I feel that’s the only way society looks at me. That’s all I’m seeing reflected in my media, after all. So when I go to my main spoof guys for some good sci-fi silliness and instead find a slew of attacks on faith, I’m left bewildered and hurt. The hurt is part of the reason I won’t watch this again, the disappointment in the writing is the rest of it.

      I agree that they should stick with Edgar Wright.

  5. Holy cow, the formatting on this page makes my comment look gigantic compared to how it looked when I was typing it. Sorry about that.

    Anyway, I didn’t see the Muppets, Scott. 😉 How about those X-Men, though?!

    • I didn’t see X-Men: First Class because I’m always wary of prequels without the original cast (I blame Dumb and Dumber 2). I’ll be renting it after reading your review, though!

      • I was very scathing of it in our 2011 look-ahead article, but I put my foot in my mouth when I saw it. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I don’t think I’ve known anyone who didn’t enjoy it, so I think you’ll do the same. Glad I changed your mind and got you to see what (I think) is a great movie.

  6. Hmm, it looks like my attempt at adressing two people at the same time has caused some confusion.

    Heather, I still think you’re reading too much hostility in a movie that is essentially about an alien trying to phone home to Melmac.

    Scott, I think you’re reading too much hostility in harmless internet comments.

    Now let me conclude by quoting (or probably parafrasing) Philip Pullman (apparently, I had to look up who said it):
    No one has the right not to be offended.

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