Monday, March 12, 2007

Billy, we're good, but this is getting ridiculous......

I realize now the reason I never saw this when it came out or years later on tape: not one of my friends would have had any interest in this movie. None of them watched "Dirty Harry" with their fathers, either, I suppose. I thought it was very entertaining. Yes, I realize it is cheesy. Yes, I realized approximately 3 minutes in (with the help of the score and those ridiculous drums) that this was indeed, St. Elmo's Fire with cowboys. I popped onto IMDB and started looking up reviews, of which there were few. I read a few of the sequal's and then went back to forming my own opinion. My opinion is basically this: SOMETIMES CHEESEY MAINSTREAM POP CULTURE IS GOOD FOR US. I mean, it was released in 1988. What really was going on then? Regan to Bush? uh, Iran Contra? The war on drugs? One might argue that a film like this is bubble-gum garbage, but I kind of think in a way, that was the point. The script was blunt and bad. The lines were shouted and mostly yee ha-ed throughout (all I could think of when they yelled, "REGULATORS!!!" was the unfortunate, "A-booga booga booga, ah-ah-ah...") But what else was the youth culture going to watch? Had there even been a "western" marketed to us before this? It would be a few more years before I actually sat myself down and hung in through the bad dubbings of Sergio Leone and even longer before I could stomach John Wayne, but those films weren't meant for me then anyway. At least this would have created an interest in a wider scope of cinema, perhaps paving the way for me to appreciate other, more well-done westerns as I gained a bit more maturity?

When we watched John Wayne in Silberman's class, many of the people just absolutely FREAKED when we had to discuss it the next day. WHY DID YOU MAKE US WATCH THAT? IT WAS SO BAD!!! IT WAS SO CHEESEY! IT WAS SO BORING!!! THAT GUY IS A TOOL!!!! on and on and on. I kind of liked it all. I got my introduction to westerns from The Twilight Zone (which I also watched with my dad), and John Wayne, Vera Miles, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Van Cleef really took me back to all of that.

My main point in ranting about this film is that it was relatively harmless, cheesy, minimally violent, and GOOD! It did not need to be deeply philosophical or woo us with a bunch of distinctive edits (save for a few slow motion death-falls at the end, Pekinpah would be appropriately dismayed) because it was doing what all action movies aspire to do: give us a hero. Sometimes this is what the public needs, something simple, something cheesy. A fairy tale! Isn't that why 24 has such a wonderfully broad and obsessive following? We don't want reality. We want someone who is going to save us, no matter how ridiculous the scenario. EVERYONE NEEDS A BAUER.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure our fathers really took an appreciative stance on introducing us to films that turned out to be some good quality cheese. When we got our first VHS recorder my dad would make sure to record the Saturday night, midnight kung fu festivals. I was introduced to a genre that kept with a pretty consistant theme. A hero, a master, a white haired evil master, a problem the evil master creates and the solution. The solution usually consisted of the hero bumbling through a training session of a new fung fu style, only to become a master of this style and kick the ass of the villian. I spent DAYS and DAYS watching, The 7 Commandments of Kung Fu I memorized every line and would act out the ENTIRE film on long family trips. At the time the film was my mantra. I watched it again a few years ago and really applauded myself for sticking with the film at such a young age. Only now I can see the real value in such a film and can only thank my father for being in touch with his Tarrantino side WAY BACK IN THE 80s. Good cheese really does come with age and dads know that for sure.