Sunday, October 08, 2006

falling in love again... a review of the film "Kicking and Screaming"

I'm kind of silly in that I sometimes fall in love with movies. If you know me personally and have asked me what my favourite movies are, I'll just say that the ones I always mention are usually the ones I'm totally in love with, like City Lights, Husbands, Minnie & Moskowitz, Breaking The Waves, Rushmore, Harold & Maude, It Happened One Night, Apur Sansar and many others.

I first got curious about Noah Baumbach after I saw The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, which he co-wrote with one of my fave currently active director, Wes Anderson. When his latest film, The Squid & The Whale got all that rave reviews last year, I got even more curious, so I begun working towards buying all his films on DVD in reverse chronological order, as in latest first and oldest last.

Kicking & Screaming is his debut film, and was only out on DVD, for the first time ever, about a month ago on Criterion. I pre-ordered it from Amazon a few weeks in advance so as to get the special pre-order price, and received the DVD about 2 weeks ago. I only managed to watch it last weekend, as I've got quite a backlog of new DVDs that I haven't seen yet and are even more of a 'priority' than Kicking & Screaming for me.

Anyway, let's just say that after the first viewing, my reaction was lukewarm at best. The movie was funny, very witty, but gave this impression of being a bit on the "too light" side. But in the next couple of days a few lines & scenes from the movie stayed with me, like these:

Scene 1:
"How do you make God laugh?", a character named Chet asked.
"Erm.. I don't know", answered a character named Grover.
Chet then said, "Make a plan."

Scene 2:
Grover, who's been trying to deny that he still wants to be with Jane, who's now in Prague, suddenly realises that he HAS to go to Prague to see Jane. He thinks that he's been sitting still long enough. So he went to an airline counter and asked to buy a ticket, and after some begging (of course at first there's no ticket available for the next flight!) managed to convince the counter girl to issue him a ticket. And when he's asked to produce his passport, he realises that it's not with him at that time.
The counter girl then said to him, "You can always go tomorrow."

Scene 3:
This is the final scene, which I've been playing over and over and over again throughout this weekend. It's a flashback to one of Grover and Jane's early dates (we know in the first few scenes of the movie that they're not together anymore). Grover said, "I wish we're an old couple, and had known each other long. That way, if I were to kiss you right now, you won't mind at all, possibly even be delighted. If I were to do that on our first date, you might think I'm too forward."
Jane replied, "What do you mean?"
Grover then said, "I just wish we're an old couple."
After that just marvel at the wonderful expressions on both Jane's and Grover's faces.
And then the movie ends with the wonderful sounds of Freedy Johnston's "Bad Reputation" playing over the credits. And then I realised how perfect and deeply resonant this ending is.

It is only after all this obsessive repeating that I realized that I'd fallen in love with Kicking & Screaming. The story's nothing new, it's basically your usual Gen-X or Gen-Y type comedy in which a bunch of graduates try to figure out where to go next after university/college.

But sometimes movies can teach you things, even without spelling it in bold for you to see. Just take a look again at my descriptions of the above 3 scenes, and try to visualise it in your mind, or better still just go get the DVD. I think you can see what I mean. I can say the same about the final lines in Rushmore:

Ms. Cross said to Max Fischer, "Congratulations Max, you pulled it off."
Max replied, "Yeah, it's not bad, at least no one got hurt."
Ms. Cross then replied, "No one except you..."
Max then said, "Nahhh, it didn't hurt that bad."

If you've seen Rushmore and know the context of the conversation, you'll definitely find it miraculous that such a simply worded conversation can convey so much meaning in terms of the growth and experience that Max's character had during the course of the film. I'm sorry if I made these films sound like they're dead serious, but I assure you they're not. They're comedies. Romantic comedies.

I can only hope that reading this would at least make you a bit more curious to check out the films I mentioned here. It's a great feeling you know, falling in love...


shahrul azwad said...

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lyanafnd said...

movie junkie!