Friday, August 26, 2011

Super Mario Kart

My favorite line of the whole film: "Mario says, 'Screw you.'" (Too bad Mario then totally undermined the line with his immediate and later actions.) Whenever I've played any sort of Mario video game, I'm pretty sure the thing is just repeating, "Mario says, 'Screw you'" the whole time. I'm not talented at video games.

Anyway, this film. I was nervous to watch this one because of the comment from Tracy's dad about testing blood pressure medicine and, well, it's French and I don't have a good track record of liking French films in this little project.

And this one isn't adding anything to the plus column really. Maybe because it's because I have normally exceptionally low blood pressure or maybe my heart is filled with cement or maybe it's just because I caught a glimpse at the film's running time, but I was pretty sure that nitro wasn't going to blow before around the two hour mark. And, lo and behold, Bimba's rock-moving home-made bomb exploded at 1 hour and 56 minutes and is the first explosion. Because of that, the whole process of loading the trucks, the constant smoking near explosives, Jo's jumping out of a moving truck to vomit, the whole "washboard" experience, and the strange turn-around on rotten wood situation didn't stress me at all. I'm a pro at being tense--just ask my back--but I honestly felt none during the movie until the let's-drive-recklessly-down-a-mountain and flash to dancing scenes at the end of the film But, I was also pretty sure of the result of that scene--I just don't like windy roads.

For quite a few of the "stressful" moments in the film, I was just thinking, "What the fuck?" Why, for example, does Jo need to walk in front of the truck through the oil? It's clearly stated several times that if they stop, they'll never get out and he's already walked through to clear the way of obstacles. And, simple common sense says not to walk in front of a truck carrying more than enough nitro to blow your two friends and their truck to smithereens--and especially not when it's being driven through waist-deep (flammable!) oil. Seriously. That's Wile. E. Coyote logic.

Other than that, the character development is a plus. The film definitely takes the time to create these men and gives them situations in which their true characters are built and divulged at key moments. The demise of the various characters is a problem (in the complete lack of explanation) but the larger problem is that we're only seeing the development of the four ex-pats. Anyone close to native to this part of the world is strikingly problematically represented from Linda the booty shaker to the saloon owner whose name escapes me to the revolutionary woman to the various extras along the way. If we're going to watch a film about the desperation of men and the poverty of a country caused by the oil-greed of Americans, we need more than caricatures of everyone but the four main guys.

What we also need to see? The result of the freaking nitro being carted to the middle of nowhere. I've watched this nitro being hauled for the better part of two hours, I want to see the explosion. Damn. It.

And the book says what?: Apparently, I'm made of steel. "A withering depiction of greed and the corrupting influence of capitalism disguised as an adventure film,  . . . Wages of Fear justifiably stands as possibly the most tension-filled movie ever made." Really?! Tracy, is this the most tension-filled movie you've seen?

Further, "set in a slum of a South American crossroads where wanderers and vagabonds end up after they have nowhere else to go, and where we learn that the rogues willing to risk their lives for money are in many ways almost not worth knowing. Their suicidal actions are driven by selfishness and desperation, traits to be exploited by the opportunistic corporation that cynically holds out the carrot on the stick for these de facto mules." Ok, so it's a problem to call a person a mule, "de facto" or no. I also think that Luigi, and probably Bimba, are worth knowing. The guy who kicks the dog? No. The other nameless ex-pats? No. The saloon owner? No. Mario? No. And, Jo? Certainly not. But Luigi and Bimba seem to have honestly good qualities about them and we have to remember that Luigi is trying to leave because his job will kill him. He otherwise did not complain except about Jo--and I started complaining about Jo before Luigi did.

The book continues: "Indeed, full of distrust and dislike, the motley crew of mercenaries act[s] with a primal, feral quality, posing as much of a threat to one another as the truckloads of explosives do to them all. It's a lose-lose situation, as the finish line promises financial reward at the cost of spiritual ruin." This I disagree with. It's important to note that Luigi and Bimba ARE likable AND work together to solve problems AND actually work to carry out the task assigned them without bickering or being too chicken to be effective. Only two of the motley crew of four act as described above. Further, the "spiritual ruin" comment is a bit of a stretch. We have no indication that Luigi or Bimba are being ruined in any way other than bodily. And Mario and Jo were obviously already spiritually ruined long before we meet them in this film.

So, yeah. Happy to have seen it before I die? Sure, why not. But not for the reasons the book lists. Probably just because it's kind of super famous and influential.

Random question: Do boys have to pee on everything? Girls would never think to pee on the blown up rock.


  1. Hah! Your review made me LOL multiple times: Mario and Luigi! Boys peeing on everything! Hee. And no, this is certainly not the most tension-filled movie I've ever seen. To be honest, at points I was doing most of the work, amping myself up to be tense because I thought I was supposed to be. And some of the scenes were scary for me. But for the most part, I was just confused at what sort of movie it wanted to be.

    Which begs the question, what is the most tension-filed movie you've ever seen? Misery comes to mind, but there's got to be a better one.

  2. Rachel Getting Married. Hands down.

    The ones that are supposed to be tense don't make me as tense as the real-life situations that hit some sort of nerve.

    But, in terms of actual supposed to be tense movies, it's probably some Stephen King movie. I've not seen Misery but Dolores Claiborne gets me (probably because I read the book first) as does The Stand.

  3. You know, I think Borat even made me more consistently tense than WoF, just because I was anticipating the awkwardness to come.

  4. Me, too! I watched half of Borat through my fingers!