Sunday, July 5, 2020

it just didn't work with the kids

Funny Farm is not even on tonight and I've got a little more to say about that film. Because, it feels recently as I get to the movies in the later 80s, I end up wanting to fix them (like Bloodsport) or defending them inordinately (like Willow). And, Funny Farm is just too easy to pick apart. So many scenes just happen for no reason, no connection to other scenes, just to get to a punchline. Characters decide they like the small tow n just because. I mean, imagine that Elizabeth's book inspires Andy to rewrite his and make it better, or reading her fictional version of him inspires him to fix his life, befriend the locals, and figure out how to actually live in Redbud instead of whatever permanent vacation he thinks he's on...


But, I digress because Big is on tonight. And, right away Josh has more personality and more motivation than Andy had in the entirety of Funny Farm. And, Tom Hanks' physical comedy is far better than Chevy Chase's.

He doesn't catch a snake on his hook for no reason. Seriously, think about that scene. Andy goes fishing in the back yard pond and it doesn't go badly because of any faulty of his. He just catches a snake because. And the n the fishing line gets caught because, why not? And the snake gets inside the house because we have to suddenly think that Elizabeth is having a horrible time even though we just saw her inside with music in her headphones, cleaning up the place like her life has never been better. And in the next scene, Andy is explaining that she's been cooped up and he's been busy writing. He was just fishing and she was just not feeling cooped up. It's bad storytelling, bad scriptwriting, and for some reason back in 1988 we loved it because it gave us laughs.

Talking to Sarah today, I realized that Funny Farm is basically the same movie as The Money Pit--couple get into a situation that should be perfectly fine, it goes wron g because of things out of their control, their relationship is tested (or so we're told--and The Money Pit does a better job of this part, at least--and then everything gets miraculously fixed in the end. And, it's such a basic story that I lament today that 32 years ago, I laughed and enjoyed it all and didn't care a whit about, to quote Elizabeth Farmer, "the story?!" I didn't care about motivation and, you know, logical connection from scene to scene...

But that's not true either. I mean, I just liked movies. Good, bad, making sense or not making sense, give me some funny bits, some great action, give me something to grab my attention and hold me there, and the details didn't matter, because what else was there? I think that problem was--or is--that my internal database of movies was a lot smaller then, so I just couldn't be bothered to be picky. Now, I will still watch anything. Trust me, I watch both award - worthy indies and I watch low-budget horror crap regularly. I watch big blockbusters and fun streaming originals. Serious dramas, comedies, horror, action, sci-fi, whatever. But, I don't just like all of it anymore.
 
 
 
 
 
Big holds up better than Funny Farm or The Mone y Pit. And, has a similar throughline as Mannequin. Magic setup, new guy shows up the conniving regulars at his new job, add some romance, some messaging about how a more creative (youthful) spirit is what business needs, and don't try to force your jokes.
 
 
 
 
 
Plus, Josh's apartment is an awesome space. And, it just reminded me of Three Men and a Baby.. Because of that great entryway, I guess. And I realize I should h ave included that movie on the 1987 portion of my list, but oh well. This deconstruction is winding down soon. Can't be adding movies now.

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