Naw, probably not. Sports flicks and romantic dramedies are way too successful for them to ever go away. But couldn’t they strive for a tad more originality, a slightly different perspective? Isn’t there anything new to be said about the power of team sports to buck up kids’ self-esteem or about how men get scared about committing to relationships? Clichés become clichés because they work, because there’s some truth in them, but: Come. On. We’ve seen this all before. Even if you never see Gridiron Gang or The Last Kiss, you can rest assured that you’ve already seen them.
God, I’m so bored with movies this week. (Well, with the studio movies, I mean.) I know it’s not really fair. I know it’s my problem cuz I see waaaay too many movies, and so I’ve seen it all too many times already — I know that if I were the kind of person who sees only two movies a year, who hasn’t already seen the ten trillion iterations of these same ideas, I’d be in love with Gridiron and Kiss, because they both do what they do very well. I know there’s nothing actually wrong with either film… except that they exist at points in the movie continuum that are already overcrowded with their fraternal twins. “Predictable” isn’t quite the word for either film, because even though the word applies to both, “predictable” implies a kind of tediousness that ruins a movie, and I can’t say that that is the case with either movie: I knew that Zach Braff’s getting-cold-relationship-feet guy in The Last Kiss was gonna stray in pretty much the way he did, and I knew that the Rock’s juvenile delinquent prison football team in Gridiron Gang was gonna make it to the big playoffs pretty much the way they did, but I enjoyed both movies anyway, if in a distant kind of way. They’re… fine. Which is damning with faint praise. I want movies to excite me. I want movies to surprise me. I want movies to make me see in retrospect that their outcomes were obvious but be smart enough, original enough to keep me from realizing that while they’re in progress.
And, you know, it’s not that there isn’t much to like in both films. Braff is an absolutely charming screen presence, and redeems a should-be hateable character in Kiss, makes you like him in spite of the fact that he’s a complete asshole. You want to smack him for being such an enormous jerk, a guy who screws around on his pregnant longtime girlfriend, a woman he loves dearly, just because he’s scared… But you stick with him through his shit, and Braff makes him sympathetic, in a pathetic kind of way. And the Rock: boy, he’s really quite affecting as a regular kinda guy who wants to help seemingly helpless kids, and does it the only way he knows how: by teaching them how to play football, by forging them into a true team. That’s cool, of course — the world needs more people not giving up on people everyone else has given up on. But why couldn’t it not give up on people everyone has given up on in a slightly unusual way?
I can’t say that I’m looking for Great Art out of my movies — I’m not. I’m just looking to be diverted. But like any other kind of drug, the more you take, the more you need to get that same high. The Last Kiss and Gridiron Gang just can’t do it for me, though I can appreciate full well that they might for someone else with a lower tolerance for difference. I need a bit of novelty in my movies, and I’ve doomed myself: the more movies I see in my quest for that movie high, the harder I’ve made it on myself to get the satisfaction I need.
Fortunately, last night I saw an extraordinary not-Hollywood movie, The Last King of Scotland. But that’s a rave for another day…
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers
rated PG-13 for some startling scenes of violence, mature thematic material and language
official site | IMDB