Monday, September 6, 2010

One-Trick Movies

I am so sick of movies that are just one joke extended to a feature length. I've seen two recently: "RoboGeisha" and "Machete." I'm not going to grace their trailers by posting them here (ie, I'm too lazy) but if you've seen either trailer, that's all you need to see. "Machete," of course, was originally just a trailer - it was one of the fake trailers in "Grindhouse" - until someone thought it would be a good idea to make it into a real movie. Spoiler alert: It wasn't a good idea.

You know you're watching a one-trick movie when it starts off with a pretty great opening scene and then quickly goes downhill and never recovers. There are usually a couple of "memorable" lines that are supposed to stand out as inappropriately cheesy, but they are too forced and self-congratulatory to actually be funny. Overall, these movies suffer from too much dialogue. There will be a few good sight gags, but not enough entertainment value to sustain interest. There is a prolonged final showdown. This kind of movie isn't the class clown, but the kid who acts out to get attention only it backfires because nobody thinks s/he is funny. It tries too hard. Yes, it is supposed to be exploitative and over-the-top, but it ends up just being sloppy and feels at least half an hour too long.

"Machete" and "RoboGeisha" don't take themselves seriously at all. Their tongues are so far in their cheeks that they can't enunciate. It's muddy, a mish-mosh. It's masturbatory writing - nobody cares, only the writers who pat each other on their backs at how funny they are. (If anyone actually read this blog, I would re-read Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp" and write about the difference between true camp and self-aware camp and how that applies here.) The difference between these films and a film like "The Human Centipede" - which could easily have fallen into the trap of not transcending its own premise - is that "The Human Centipede" actually tries. Same thing with "Piranha 3D" - yes, it is silly and aware of its silliness, but it isn't content to stop there. No matter how self-aware, a movie must take itself seriously. Or else it's just boring.

It is interesting to note, however, that both "Machete" and "RoboGeisha" do follow the Bechdel-Wallace Rule... Hmm...