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In a Word, It Isn’t

Image result for Isn't It Romantic

There are actors and actresses who can “sell me a ticket,” as I put it. You know; they are the reason you go to a particular movie.

Rebel Wilson is not one of them.

I have nothing against her. What I had seen of her work didn’t really make me a fan. Or hate her on sight. (I saw one or two episodes of her ABC sitcom, whatever it was called. Haven’t seen the “Pitch Perfect” movies)

Same with Adam Devine.

And Liam Hemsworth, although I enjoy living on a planet with multiple Hemsworths. The idea of standing in the middle of them is an entertaining one.

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Nothing against any of them, but none of them have ever motivated me to buy a movie ticket.

And yet, I went to “Isn’t It Romantic?”.

Part of my motivation was that I wanted something undemanding and stupid. My expectations were exceeded. What could have been a light-hearted and witty handling of skewering a genre turned out to be leaden, heavy-handed, and a waste of talent.

The plot: our heroine, Natalie, watched a shit ton of romantic comedies as a child and eventually turned on them. We have the near-standard “hit your head and end up in a parallel universe” (I think we blame “The Wizard of Oz” for that one) where the entire world is romantic comedy clichés. Of course, she fights against all of it, comes up with a big message, and wakes up back in her world, the end.

I seldom want to walk out on a movie, but this one, I wanted to run. However, since I saw it as part of my AMC A-List, I couldn’t get a refund, so I stuck it out. What can I say? Sometimes I’m a masochist.

If you don’t know me already, let me tell you something about myself: I’m fat. This will be important in a sec. I have a friend who prefers the term “juicy girl,” which (for the moment. That’s another post) is not as laden with negative baggage as the word “fat.” Going forward, we will talk about Rebel Wilson in juicy girl terms.

Here’s what REALLY bugged me about this movie: facial inequality or inter-facial dating, as I’ve seen it called.

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) has a professional job, architect. Not assistant or support staff or office manager. She is one of the ones to be assisted. She is smart, she’s gainfully employed (I wouldn’t judge it by her “In Real Life” (IRL) apartment because rents in New York City are ridiculous. She may be living in a closet, but she’s not sharing it with 3 other people). She is making it on her own. In actual real life, she’d be considered a good match (Honey, romance and falling in love at first sight is great for storytelling, but stability keeps things fresher longer). In the movie, she spies Blake (Liam Hemsworth) and falls in lust with him (Mama Hemsworth has some very handsome sons), while being friends with Josh (Adam Devine) whom she thinks is lusting after the woman in an ad. She is ignored by Blake while she ignores Josh. I would ignore Josh. Adam Devine is a skilled comic actor, but he’s not a Hemsworth by any stretch.

In the parallel head bonk universe, Blake Handsome falls in love with her, Josh Friend falls for the woman in the ad, Blake turns out to have jerk tendencies, and at the last minute, she realizes it’s been Josh all along blah blah blah.

We’re living in a world where the importance of representation is finally dawning on Hollywood, but it’s missing from this piece.

What we’re seeing here is reinforcement that fat people are not supposed to be with “pretty” people. Fat has been successfully demonized for decades as a moral failing, a physical manifestation of weakness and shame, and proof of a person’s bad character. If you want to see a fat person depicted as human, capable of being loved and admired, go see “Stan & Ollie” (which is EXCELLENT). And even then, they put John C. Reilly in a fat suit.

Fat women get short shrift in romance. It’s only in the fantasy realm that Natalie is considered a suitable partner for handsome, successful Blake. In her “real world,” she’s only good enough for Josh. As I said, Adam Devine is a very skilled comic actor, but he’s not a leading man.

Let’s let that sink in: the leading lady in a romantic comedy does not get the leading man type. Rebel Wilson is capable of leading a romantic comedy, but they’re not letting her get the handsome guy as, perhaps, Anna Kendrick or Jennifer Lawrence would have.

Yes, Blake is a jerk and Josh is a better person. However, I think other filmmakers would have engineered things a bit differently for another actress with another attractive (not necessarily Hemsworth) man in the Josh role, but with glasses and schlumpy clothing until the big reveal.

Why can’t fat people be seen as attractive? Would it upset the diet industry too much? Would it put Marie Osmond out of a job shilling for Nutrisystem? Too many billions of dollars at stake to let Rebel Wilson be anything more than a joke or second banana. (This thing needs to fail and when it does, they’ll blame her, not the crappy writing and execution)

Melissa McCarthy is revered. And she led a successful sitcom for years on “Mike & Molly.” Once again, though (and I enjoy the show in reruns. Great comic cast), she was paired with someone who was not a leading man (again, Billy Gardell is a deft standup and comic actor, but he’s not a Hemsworth).

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In “Isn’t It Romantic?”, the pretty people are depicted as ultimately vain and shallow (another stereotype) and not worthy of love. But, I think the was to reinforce Josh as a more suitable choice for Natalie.

(Here’s where I honk my own horn)

I wrote “These Foolish Things” which depicts two people in their forties falling in love for the first time. Ty is Hemsworth (or Clooney) handsome and successful, Liz is overweight (not necessarily fat), has a professional career, lives on her own, and is a good, stable match. She’s insecure because, well, fat is a moral failing, dontcha know?

I wrote this as a response to all the romantic stories depicting the leads as twenty-somethings with perfect looks. I get escapism, but c’mon. How many kidnappings by motorcycle gangs, vampires, shape shifters, nobles in disguise, vampire motorcycle gangs, and undiscovered fashion models are too many?

Why not have a story where one could easily see herself as the heroine? “Hey! She’s like me!”

Are we trying to convince people who don’t fit the current model of beauty that they are not attractive? Of course, we’ve got a President* – who was just officially declared obese – who calls women who oppose him “fat pigs.” When I’ve been attacked on social media, the first thing they go for (usually men) is my weight or my looks (with makeup and hair done, I look okay. Without, meh). Men are usually running the studios and deciding which films get made under what conditions. What came out with the #MeToo movement was stories of male film execs making casting decisions on whether or not they thought a particular actress was “fuckable.” Not seeing much change going on.

What we have is a celluloid world (well, technically it’s digital these days) that refuses to depict juicy girls as genuine romantic leads. (I’ve seen pictures of these guys. They’re not Hemsworths)

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So much for representation.

Even if you are a huge Rebel Wilson/Adam Devine/Liam Hemsworth fan, save your money on this one. “Isn’t It Romantic?” isn’t.

 

“Aquaman” Review (Yes, there are spoilers)

“You are not the intended demographic for a comic book movie. Why the hell did you go?”

This.

Any questions? By the way, the audience was at least 50% women my age. What can I tell you? Some of us like to window shop.

Seriously, I wouldn’t have gone but Jason Momoa in “Justice League” was the most fun thing in it (and I went because I love Henry Cavill. And whoever fired him as Superman screwed up). He’s not my movie hunk type; this is:

However, Jason Momoa is not only easy on the eyes, he seems to be a pretty decent human being. Fer chrissakes, he grew up in Iowa. Repnasty Steve King aside, Iowans are decent, grounded folk. Well, for the time being:



Anyway, in interviews, when he’s being Jason Momoa, he comes across as a mensch with intelligence and some humor. What can I say? I like a man with a brain. Things that can get caught in zippers aren’t good for decision-making.

This was not a good movie.

It hit the superhero cliches: the backstory is either one of not having/knowing one has powers (Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker) or manboys avoiding their destiny (Ironman. Yes, there’s a whole other argument in there). In the present case, we have Arthur Curry as a big lug, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, rejecting his heritage. Cliche Number 1, check.

(Momoa is the sexiest Arthur you’ll ever see. And, later in the movie, we get a fairly “duh” parallel to another Arthur. There is foreshadowing.  So much foreshadowing. Dear God, the only one who does heavier handed foreshadowing is Dan Brown, who all but stands there with a bullhorn in “DaVinci Code” and his other books saying, “Hey! You’re going to see this again later on! Pay attention!” Dan: You write good stories, but..)

It’s not a super hero movie without villains.

Black Manta, who looks like he came from a 1950s B movie (Yes, Fanboys, I know this get-up is from the comic book. Don’t get your tighty whiteys in a bunch). He gets the back story. And it involves Aquaman hitting his pirate dad in the face with a torpedo.

In the face. With a torpedo.

Because getting a fist in the face from a guy who just lifted a submarine out of the water isn’t hard enough, gotta use torpedoes (and not according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Neither Raytheon nor General Dynamics recommend using their products for hand-to-hand combat).

It’s inappropriate for Black Manta to get a sympathetic (“You killed my dad!”) story because WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO SYMPATHIZE WITH HIM! Hellloooo! This is the bad guy! Of a superhero movie, not Tolstoy. Minimal motiviation works best. “I am evil. I want to steal stuff. Your brother is paying me to help him.” ‘Nuff said. Tarantino made the same mistake in “KIll Bill Vol. ” with Lucy Liu’s character. Don’t divide loyalties (unless you’re planning to spin off the bad guy into a franchise. They’re bad, they’re about to get defeated by our hero, we don’t want to feel sorry for them for the ass-kicking we’ve paid to see).

And, once he looks like this, about 5 minutes of screen time before he’s out of the movie altogether. It’s a shame because in the inappropriate-for-the-bad-guy “getting ready” montage (complete with a comedic “oops, I don’t know my own strength” flourish), he put a shit ton of work into looking like something Raid makes a spray or motel for.

Here’s the REAL bad guy:

 

Aquaman’s half-brother, Orm.

“Aquaman” should come with a subtitle: “Mom Always Liked You Best!”

Mom was played by Nicole Kidman. Before getting dragged back to Atlantis to be married to Orm’s daddy and stay with him, she fell in love with Aquaman’s dad on the land. And loved him, not Orm’s father, for which there was much resentment. Of course, this gives rise to “You’re not really one of us” and cries of “bastard.” (Which is more appropriate for Orm. He’s a big, soggy dick). This is not a feminist movie.

If you saw “The Incredibles,” you’ll remember Frozone and Mr. Incredible reminiscing about their superhero days and Frozone talking about Baron von Ruthless monologuing. BvR has nothing on these two. We are  talking speech patterns bordering on Victorian for Orm. Loong speeches. He could have been throat-punched repeatedly, or given an atomic wedgie (since Arthur was still in big frat boy mode at that point). Perhaps fatally. I was hoping.

I was also so uninterested in what he was saying, I was more focused on figuring out what perfume the woman sitting next to me was wearing (No. It wasn’t obnoxious, and neither was she. However, I got a few whiffs and spent time trying to match a name to the scent. Much more engaging than the movie at that point). (Somewhere around Orm’s third speech, I realized it was “Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds.” It’s a lovely scent, but only certain people can wear it successfully. Before you buy it for yourself or someone else, take it on a test run)

I digress.

I like Patrick Wilson as an actor, despite my introduction to him being “The Watchmen.” (I have no idea what I was thinking going to that movie) As you can see, he was made up to look like the lost Malfoy. And when he was talking about kicking Momoa’s half-human ass, I was thinking, “Oh, Honey. It looks like he’s got at least 9 inches on you and about 50 lbs more of pure muscle. And he’s playing the title character. Give up.”

Undulation  is the word for this movie. Hair. Seaweed. Capes. Many, many capes. Edna Mode would have killed herself.

(“Seriously? Why did you go?”)

 

This.

There was a underwater rumble. Several of them, in fact, but the first one had guys on seahorses facing off against guys on sharks. My thought: this is not exactly West Side Story. You know, Jets v Sharks? Huh? Huh? “When you’re a Seahorse, you’re a Seahorse all the way…” Nah.  The sharks DID have laser beams, so if Dr. Evil from “Austin Powers” was in the audience, he probably wept.

Heroes go on quests. To find themselves, mentors, or stuff. In this case, stuff, so in addition to two bad guys out to get him, we have a Heroic Scavenger Hunt!

Goody! Go to Point A to find Clue 1, nearly get killed, then go to Point B, which is where Clue 1 sent you, nearly get killed again, until Clue 2 sends you to the object’s resting place (Threes. Pay attention, Kids: attempts, clues, etc. come in threes. If it’s only the second attempt or the second strike, our hero will not succeed).

On the way, we meet weirdo sea creatures. There was a trailer for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” before the movie and I wondered if we had a crossover going. There were also extinct ones and I checked my ticket to make sure I wasn’t in “Jurassic World.”

At this point, the Heroic Scavenger Hunt is successful and we see Arthur Curry finally in the yellow and green Aquaman outfit. He looked like a cross between a metallic evening clutch and a 57  Cadillac (Costume tailfins. So many tailfins)

 

See what I mean?

Jason Momoa was in “Game of Thrones” as Khol Drogo. We got to see his butt. It’s an asset. (See what I did there?)

In “Aquaman,” we get one shot of covered butt. Speaking for the rest of the audience that matched my demographic (and we were numerous), there should have been more.

DC, maybe have me write a movie for you. Rehire Cavill, let me put him in a buddy movie with Momoa, maybe scamming an intergalactic villain played by Josh Brolin by faking horse races and …no. That’s “The Sting.” Newman and Redford. It doesn’t get much better.  Damn good movie, by the way.

However, we did get wet Jason Momoa. And that’s a good thing. Lots of wet Jason Momoa. He undulated at times. Everyone did cuz, you know, they were underwater, and the movie makers wanted us to be sure we knew they were underwater. And when he wasn’t underwater, he was mostly wet. Hmm. Wet Jason Momoa…

Maybe DC was writing for middle-aged women after all.

Taking on a Life of Their Own

I’m writing again and not just this blog and tweets hurled at the current occupant of the White House (Secret Service hasn’t been by to visit). In order to have new material, I have to sit down and actually create it (no chip in my head to translate to the Internet for your viewing pleasure. It’s a crazy, scary, jumbled mess up there anyway with calculations, mortgage guidelines, cat videos/memes/memories, and visualization of myself with the winning Powerball ticket. And stories, fragments, and “what ifs.” If my brain was a TV show, it would be an episode of “Hoarders” subtitled “The Craziest Pile of Shit We’ve Found Yet.”)

Looks about right

Looks about right

But I digress.

So, I’ve started work on a short story (whopping 802 words over 3 nights. Woo). I start out with pen and notebook (leopard print) writing narrative. It’s like jump-starting a standard transmission; hold in the clutch, get your friends to push it, when you get to around 10 MPH, pop it in first. My throwing it into first is moving the words from ink and paper to pixels on a screen.

And, that’s where the craziness happens.

Ask any author (and any author who reads this blog is invited to comment): At some point, your characters stop obeying your wishes and start doing things on their own. For instance, my current story (it’s a short story, so if I post spoilers, there won’t be anything left for you to read). I had an idea for what I wanted Patti and Ed to do. Their own words started coming out of their mouths. And then they started moving and doing “stuff” faster than I could keep up.

Time to turn off the motor, i.e., go back to the pen and paper to take notes.  (Please note: that is the proper use of i.e. Merriam-Webster wouldn’t lie)

This is really my notebook

This is really my notebook

So, I started scribbling. (I’m afraid to try to read my own handwriting) Dialogue fragments, questions to myself about the direction, various storylines (my initial one wasn’t necessarily going to remain). I almost wish I smoked (Never have). Just seems like a cigarette would be a useful prop for thinking. Cross-outs, margin notes, more questions…

All because two imaginary people decided to take on a life of their own.

My goal is to have this story complete (edited, printed, bound) in time for Book Obsessed Babes 2017 in Jacksonville on April 8 (Should my local friends read this, bring back a bagel and coffee from Einstein’s for me on Sunday, please).

After I finish writing this post, finding amusing photos to insert (or half naked men. They can be amusing, too), I will see where Patti and Ed lead me.

Half naked

Half naked

 

OFFICIAL Online Book Club Review

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “These Foolish Things” by Susan Thatcher.]

Despite Tyler Hadley giving Liz Gardner a shiner their first meeting, the sparks are definitely flying off. Liz has been burned one too many times before and Ty does not look like the type to look for a serious relationship. It seems like their road to a happily ever after is paved in hesitancy and difficulties but with the help of one loony judge and an escape artist cat, will these two make their relationship work?

These Foolish Things by Susan Thatcher is a contemporary romance set in the mid to late 1990s in Boston. Although it was set when I was still in elementary school and I don’t live in the Boston area, the author was able to describe the time and place well that I pictured the setting easily. 

I liked the characters better in this book because they weren’t young and perfect. Ty especially wasn’t perfect, there were many times that he was a jerk but he redeemed himself every time. Liz was okay; she had some issues growing up and had hang ups causing her to almost give up on relationships. The supporting characters were also interesting especially Judge McCafferty and Beanie the cat. Liz’s gang also made the book more colorful.

What I liked best about this book is the way the hero and the heroine met. They collided while playing softball which resulted in Liz getting a black eye. Although they started a little violently, there were no domestic violence and abuse between the main characters; at least I don’t think so. I also liked the circumstances in which they started dating, it certainly was unusual. I don’t know how, but the love and romance between them was apparent and didn’t feel forced which is another thing that I liked.

What I did not like about the book was that there were too many conflicts that arose during the course of the whole story. Because of this, the climax for this book wasn’t too powerful. Nonetheless, I am still giving this book a 3 out of 4 star rating because I like it enough to recommend that other people read it.

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Buy “These Foolish Things” on Amazon