The world is garbage right now, but at least movies are still great. Right? It Comes At Night was heartbreaking and dark, and Power Rangers was cheerful and juvenile. There’s something for everyone! There’s something for both types of people.
Even me, the proverbial third type of person: a guy who likes to ruin things by pointing out how stupid they are. Which is what I’m going to do right now: Ruin a thing you probably enjoyed recently. I’m sorry to do this to you but I have to. It’s the only way I know how to be.
Beauty and the Beast’s Stupid Faces
I hadn’t watched the original Beauty And The Beast since I was a small child but I watched it again recently and, hey, it’s pretty great. I know this isn’t a surprise to our nostalgia-fetishizing culture where everything that we considered good as children is not only great but worth fist-fighting about. But I actually never cared about this particular Disney movie as a kid. I’m not even sure I had ever seen it until I watched it a couple months ago at whatever-age-I-am. But no, seriously, I really enjoyed it: tight script, funny jokes, and great character design. And I’m not referring to how badly I want to fuck that feather duster, I mean the characters are iconic and memorable. I know exactly who Lumiere is just by the way he cocks his eyebrow.
Walt Disney Pictures
In the cartoon, that is. In the live-action remake all those amazing and whimsical characters look more like this:
Walt Disney Pictures
Soulless eyes. Twitching, insectoid mouthparts. Tiny Ewan McGregor face. A photo-realistic talking candelabra is, it turns out, just a bad idea, and not just because of the ensuing nightmares: They just functionally didn’t work. Most of the time I couldn’t tell what expressions they were making, or what they were feeling, or what I was supposed to be feeling about it. At one point, Mrs. Potts gets thrown right up in the screen and winks and I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head for five months. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, convinced Mrs. Potts is hiding somewhere in my apartment, silently twitching her horrific eye at me in the dark, and I can’t sleep until I search my entire home top to bottom. That’s not true, I made it up for dramatic purposes, but I hope it communicates my issue with this character’s horrible face.
Alright. Fine. I admit that this might just be the ravages of old age catching up with me. Maybe when Snow White was released in 1627, grumpy hipsters in their late 20s/early 30s were complaining that animation was a stupid medium that no one would ever enjoy. Maybe the next generation will be fine with these horrifying, uncanny valley-dwelling abortions. Maybe I’ll hate the next generation as much as every generation has ever hated every subsequent generation.
Kurt Russell Did Not Need To Recite The Lyrics Of “Brandy”
After the double-dose of mediocrity that was Dr. Strange and Ant-Man, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming single-handedly restored my faith in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, two things can single-handedly do something. That’s a fine thing for me to say because language is always evolving and nothing means anything.
But the scene where Kurt Russell recites the lyrics to “Brandy” on screen was garbage.
The role the scene plays in the movie is pretty straight forward. Russell plays Ego, a living planet and “god with a lower-case ‘g'” that is also Peter Quill’s father, okay, maybe it’s not super straightforward. He’s explaining that he thinks of Quill’s mother as being like the Brandy in the song. This is foreshadowing that he (spoiler!) is an evil character, because “Brandy” is a sad story about a bartender who gets neglected by a sailor who leaves her a gift but never returns. If Ego sees Quill’s mother as Brandy, then he must be the sailor, and therefore he’s kind of a jerk without realizing it. That’s a neat bit of foreshadowing… until Ego just says the lyrics of the song to the camera. In case anyone missed it.
This drives me crazy because cleverly hidden foreshadowing is one of my favorite things movies do. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are the masters of this stuff because you can watch Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, not pick up on a single case of the foreshadowing, and still really enjoy the movie. It’s extra. It’s subtle. Having RJ MaCready deadpan the thesis of the scene isn’t either of those things.
Is it dumb of me to expect subtlety from a movie with a talking raccoon and sentient kill-tree? Maybe, but fuck you, I like my dumb things smart. Guardians is perfect in every other way and this would’ve been a fantastic easter egg instead of the hardest I’ve cringed in a movie theater all year. Even my mom didn’t like the scene, and my mom likes everything. My mom thinks I’m a snob for not wanting to watch Lost In Space (I am a snob, but not because of my Lost In Space opinions).
John Wick: Chapter 2 Makes John Wick Pretty Dumb
Oh my, what to say about the John Wick series? It’s one of the rare action movies that remembers to show us the action. It’s one of the rare movies with an outrageous premise that is still confident enough to not wink at the audience about how silly it is. And it’s the only movie where, like, I keep submitting it to Cracked editorial as my monthly column, and in response John Cheese is just like “No, Sarge, this is not a column, this is just a pirated MP4 of John Wick 2. Stop doing that. Please just write your column and also if you love this movie so much buy it for real.” And then I say “I did buy it for real, 15 times, but I can’t email you my Blu-ray” and he says “Well why not buy it on iTunes or something and send me that” and then I say “Because you wouldn’t be able to watch it because of DRM” and then he says “How do you always manage to suck me into these conversations?” I like these movies a lot.
Aside from that part in John Wick: Chapter 2 where we reveal that Wick has been a huge dumbass this entire time. I can’t find it on YouTube anywhere so I’ll just transcribe the scene:
Winston: What are you doing, Jonathan?
Wick (dumbly): He burned my house down.
Winston: You rejected his marker. You’re lucky he stopped there. What the hell were you thinking, giving a marker to a man like Santino D’Antonio?
Wick (incredulously): It’s the only way I could get out.
Winston: Oh, you call this out? What did you think would happen? What did you expect? Did you really think this day would never come? What does he want you to do?
Wick (stupidly): I didn’t ask. I just said “no.”
Winston (shaking head): Two rules that cannot be broken, Jonathan. No blood can be spilled at the Continental, and every marker must be honored.
Wick (confused): I have no choice?
That’s mostly secret-assassin gibberish but it still should be pretty clear what’s going on here: There are only two rules in this society, and John Wick broke one. The idea that there are only two rules in this society (along with the fact that apparently everything costs exactly one gold coin) stretches my disbelief, but I can accept it. I can even accept that professional assassin work comes to you in an app like Uber (another plot point). But the idea that these two rules are too much for Wick to remember? The guy who’s an expert in every gun, every form of hand-to-hand combat, who can speak Italian and Russian and remembers the favorite drink of an old colleague (Common, we learn, drinks gin) can’t remember that you have to honor blood contracts?
“Which one of these drinks is mine again?”
In fact, he seems to be struggling with basic cognitive function the entire movie. Like 90 percent of his lines are incredulous questions asking more articulate characters to explain the situation he’s found himself in. I’ve actually come up with a fan theory that John Wick is just a really really stupid man who scrapes through life purely based on his ability to murder. But that makes the movie less interesting so I don’t think about it very often.
Wonder Woman Has The Worst Sailing Scene Of Any Movie
Apparently DC movies can be good, which was absolutely shocking to me even though it happened as recently as 2008 (I have a very short memory). And though much ado has been made about the fact that it’s the first female-led superhero movie, it was also just a good adventure movie where a woman kills people with her whip. I haven’t seen someone get killed with a whip since, oh, before you were born.
Which is a shame because that sailing scene, man — it was pretty bad.
I’m quickly developing a reputation for being the Cracked Sailing guy, which is fine because it’s good for my career to have a brand. So go ahead and call me that. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk about sailing because most movies don’t include any sailing and when they do there’s not that much to say. “The boat would be moving more than that,” I might mutter to my date, but only if I want to make sure I don’t get another date. “That’s not really how the water would look from the shore of a Caribbean island” are some words that have actually come out of my mouth. I can be picky about anything, but listen: Wonder Woman got things exceptionally wrong. The scene where Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman sail from Themyscira to London is, bar none, the worst sailing I’ve ever seen in a movie. They literally don’t get a single detail right.
First, there’s no indication of how the sails are trimmed. They’re just hanging there, like Chris Pine and Gal Gadot’s hair, indicating that there is no wind. Sailboats need wind to move, and you adjust the sail depending on what direction the wind is coming from. The wind’s pressure on the sail, as well as the daggerboard, centerboard or keel’s pressure against the water, guides the boat in the direction it needs to go. If the sail is limp, the boat can’t be moving.
Let’s pretend this is forgivable (even though it’s fucking not). I get that most people won’t notice, and if we had simulated rough seas and high winds they probably wouldn’t have been able to improvise the funniest scene in the movie. Maybe Amazonian boats are made out of bullshit fucking magic or whatever. I wouldn’t have even mentioned this if things hadn’t gotten ten times crazier the next second when both characters go to sleep.
Who’s making sure they stay on course? What if they get run down by some steam ship? They don’t even have running lights, for Christ’s sake. Not even a candle stuck in the spreaders. Normally, on overnight passages, you want at least one person awake at all times “on watch.” And since this is a one-night journey, there’s zero reason for both characters to be asleep at the same time. I can’t stress enough how little sense this makes. It’s more implausible than anything else in the movie, including the lasso of truth or the idea that anyone could find David Thewlis intimidating.
To me, anyway. I totally understand why nobody else cares.