I passed out Friday afternoon while trying to
fix a leaky fuel pump on the Falcon. This is the kind of shit
I file away as "Fun Project for Next Owner". But gas costs too
damn much money to let it drip into the street. So, I bought
a $14 pump from the parts store and got under there and got
the old pump off. Gas dripped on my face, in my ear, and then
I fell asleep with my feet sticking out. Thank God I live in
a safe neighborhood. You go down to Wheatridge or Lakewood and
the fuckers would steal the socks and shoes right off your feet
if they saw you lying there. All they got off me was my wallet,
and all it contained was a library card, a suspended drivers'
license and a some coupons for Aquanet I was gonna trade to
the Harelip. All my money I keep tucked up next to my nuts.
I woke up six hours later. It was dark out and
the night smelled like skunk. Or Worm. Or Worm humping a skunk.
I was tired. I don't know why. I just had a nice nap, but it
made me even more tired.
I still had to go to the movies. The Falcon
was inoperable, so I was limited to the local, crappy Olde Town
Arvada Cinema. Now, don't get me wrong. Anyone who knows me
knows my civic pride. They know I'm all about supporting local
businesses. It's just that when they suck, I'm not so big on
it. And our local theater sucks the fur of monkey nuts. What
a ratty shithole. The best thing about it is that it's never
crowded. But then again, neither is a pile of dogcrap, though.
Limited to one theater, and limited to movies
starting after ten, I saw Little Miss Sunshine. Far as
I can tell, it's a remake of National Lampoon's Vacation
designed for the the annoying NPR fucks who listen to Wait,
Wait, Don't Tell Me! and laugh at the non-Lake Wobegon parts
of Prairie Home Companion. It's like the movies was written
in a parallel universe where the lowbrow comedy of the common
man gets a few intemellectual quirks and relabeled as smart
Like Vacation, Little Miss Sunshine
is a cross-country family road movie. In the original, the sadsack
dad who thinks the trip will bring his family closer together
was played by Chevy Chase. Now, the sadsack dad with the same
plan is played by Greg Kinnear. Ah, but the twist is that he's
a self-doubting motivational speaker. Good fucking God, that
NPR crowd is so clueless they donít know that these types have
been punchlines on shitty sketch comedy shows for ten years.
Vacation's crotchety grandma is replaced
here by a crotchety grandpa (Alan Arkin), who also dies mid-trip.
But, to make it edgy, he's not only foul-mouthed, he's also
a heroin addict. Not that either of those personality quirks
has a god damn thing to do with the story. Beverly D'Angelo's
bland mother is replaced by Toni Collette's, though she's less
likely to do a gratuitous naked shower scene. The pudgy teen
girl is replaced by a pudgy pre-teen girl with dreams of beauty
pageant success. The homely teen boy who was Anthony Michael
Hall is respun as mopey, homely teen Paul Dano. Randy Quaid's
wacky brother-in-law is replaced by a suicidal, homosexual Proust
scholar (Steve Carrell).
The unwacky family pile into a wacky yellow
Volkswagen bus to hurry from Albuquerque (why? who knows) to
Santa Monica (why? who knows?) for the "Little Miss Sunshine"
pageant that the daughter has won her way into. The van breaks
down, grandpa dies, and the family that didn't want to be together
learns to love and appreciate each other.
What I hated most about this movie was how unfunny
it was to a tired, grumpy shit like me. All the character quirks
like the Proust shit, or the boy reading Nietzsche have almost
nothing to do with the basic dysfunctional family road comedy
that Little Miss Sunshine is. All the quirky shit is
supposed to make the movie "smart", but in reality, it's window
dressing, like putting tinsel on a Church's Fried Chicken at
Christmas. It doesn't make it any more festive; and eventually
the tinsel smells like grease.
Sure, the characters are quirky, but the quirks
are forced, not natural, inserted for the sake of quirkiness.
I hate to hold Vacation up as a model of classic cinema,
but it fares well in comparison here. The characters aren't
saddled with too much personality baggage like a donkey in a
discount Grand Canyon tour.
Beyond the quirks, the action is dictated by
trite scenarios: Broke-down cars; forgetting someone at a gas
station; grandpa dying mid-trip and a mad dash to the finish
line. The scenarios were so obvious and the characters so self-absorbed
that I wished I had stayed camped out under the Falcon.
Little Miss Sunshine proves what I have
long suspected: the NPR crowd may be smart, but they sure as
fuck ain't funny. They're too damn busy complicating everything
to be. Two Fingers.