January 25, 2009 at 7:41 am (Movies and TV)

The theater began showing Hotel For Dogs. We checked our stubs, we asked the other two people in the theater…there had been a mistake. Upon informing the theater, we were given free passes for next time, and they re-started what we’d come to see, which was Rachel Getting Married. The free passes were the best part of the movie, and I wish we’d seen Hotel For Dogs instead.

It is not unusual for a movie to introduce us to a tragically dysfunctional family. It is not unusual to have other than a happy ending, or for a movie to show us characters we can’t possibly like or sympathize with. It’s a little unusual to have random appearances by Robin Hitchcock and bellydancers. It is, however, VERY unusual to have all of this happen in a plot that goes nowhere, in a story that never shows us the reason why it’s one worth telling.

The only reason I am not horribly depressed by the idea of knowing Anne Hathaway has a Golden Globe, is knowing at least she tied with Meryl Streep. They’re recongizing her for not being perky and doe-eyed in the same way they are recognizing Amy Adam’s continued perkiness and doe-eyed innocence in Doubt.

When I went to my senior homecoming dance with four other couples, we went to a four-star restaurant before the dance. One guy, wanting to impress his date, paid the strolling violinist $50 to play us Ave Maria. I have no idea whether that guy succeeded in getting any tail that night, but, I do remember that the violinist then refused to leave, and was cloying and annoying and disruptive of our dinners until the guy gave him more money to go away. I was reminded of this anecdote while listening to the score of Rachel Getting Married, only there was no opportunity to pay the violinist to shut the fuck up.

As a writer, I found myself very disappointed that the film focused so little on the tall, African-American groom, meeting this messed-up family for the first time the day before he marries into it. What is this poor guy’s reaction? Does he have second thoughts? How does he process this? How will it impact their marriage? We don’t know, but it would have been an interesting thing to explore as he was the only character in the mix I felt truly sorry for. I felt sorry for the actor, too, because apart from the marriage ceremony, his only other big scene was one where he loads a dishwasher. But hey, the economy is bad, I’m sure he appreciated the work.

The film would have worked infinitely better had Hathaway’s character not survived a car wreck at one point in the movie. There could have been some relief, possibly some character growth, maybe even a reconciliation of a life’s ending with a life’s beginning. But no. She and her whole damned family, and the annoying violinist, are there with us until the bitter end and nobody is the better for it. My advice is, when you get your invitation to Rachel Getting Married, send regrets.


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