My daughter and I are headed out for some Steak & Shake cholesterol and then to see the new Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones film, "Hope Springs." Which is what mine is doing. I'm craving a cinematic triumph, or at least an honorable mention. The NY Times' Manohla Dargis is tenderly ambivalent about the film, but my taste in criticism runs more to A.O. Scott's--so there's some hope, right there.
I need this. We need this. We need a decent, popular movie. Western civilization cannot tolerate and shall not endure a monolithic stream of "Hunger Games," or anything like it. Every blockbuster of mindless abandon subtracts from the sum of our potential refinement--and I just can't take it anymore. Not every film needs to go boom or hatch unbelievable plots or, from credits to credits, contain nothing but witless dialogue.
I don't mean to sound like a snob. Then again, if sounding like a snob means possessing some taste, I would like to think I'm guilty as charged.
postscript: I'm still a bit shaken. The film was brutally comical as I sat in a horrified state of comical brutalization. PG 13? The movie ratings people must be on crack. I've never been so uncomfortable in all my life. I wouldn't allow my mother to see this film, and she's seven times past the recommended age limit.
The irony is that the film purportedly treats the subject of a happy marriage--what makes one, that is; and how two people can rediscover one--yet the sceenwriter quite obviously hasn't the first bloody clue about the matter. As an insensitive male brute I'm a slow learner when it comes to all things intimate, I'm sure, but if I learned anything transcendent in my years of increasing bliss with my beloved wife, it was that sex accounted for perhaps--perhaps--two or three percent of our genuine happiness. Caring and companionship and our daughter and great books and deep films and frivolous films and travel and outdoor breakfasts and ... you get the idea.
According to "Hope Springs," however, love and marriage are only as compatibly wondrous as a great blow job, which, unfortunately, a very frustrated Meryl Streep is incapable of delivering, to Tommy Lee Jones' even deeper regret. My sympathies.
Well, the acting was good, and there's always the littoral Maine village, which I would have been delighted--believe me, delighted--to see much more of. Other than that, you can understand my reservations.
If you're an unmarried young man, by all means hie your ladyfriend to this film, for spiritual guidance. Naturally I can't speak for married women, but if you're a happily married man of some emotional maturity? You'll probably leave the theatre wondering if there are any depths of superficiality that Hollywood can leave untouched.
Allow me, Nixon-like, to be perfectly clear. Do not take your 13-year-old daughter to this film. A 13-year-old boy? Hell, he was fantasizing about it three years ago in the bathroom. So who cares? But a daughter? No way. And if that sounds sexist or prudish, or worse, snobbish, again, I don't care.