1990s bracket: beautiful girls

May 29, 2008

i’m given the assignment of watching both beautiful girls and kicking and screaming (the non-ferrell version) and picking which one i find more interesting, or better, or just picking one rather. it’s all for the sake of the filmspotting message boards 1990’s us bracket thingy. so i get my matchup from fellow cinecrack addict pixote and am immediately happy. i’ve always wanted to catch up with baumbach’s first film and i always wanted to see beautiful girls, or so i thought. i get the only copy of the film the local library has (one 10 year old vhs) and look at the cover. matt dillon? timothy hutton? michael rapaport? where’s michael douglas! this isn’t what i signed up for! see in my head i had mistaken beautiful girls with wonder boys. apparently my mind has a disease where it replaces nouns with their antonyms and adjectives with their synonyms (or close to it). so suffusive to say i started out in a bad place when i put it in my tape deck…

and the beginning of the film didn’t help me much. it seemed slow, unfocused and all over the place. i didn’t know what i was getting into. was this about ruined relationships? or adultery? oh lord please don’t let it be about pedophilia. and the film had to work at me. i thought the script felt clunky at first. when timothy hutton arives home they seem to repeat everything twice.

“do you want to watch golf?”

“sure.” “sure.”

“put your bags down and we’ll watch some golf.”

“yeah.” “yeah.”

and the music seemed dripping with sentimentality. timothy hutton looks out over the street and there’s a big swell of strings. but the film stays grounded. mostly through matt dillon, timothy hutton, and yes, rosie o’donnell (her speech to dillon and hutton is what ultimately started winning me over). her 5 minute tirade inside the mini mart sets up the film for me. it perfectly sums up all of the guy characters in the film and sets the tone for the rest of it.

i can’t say that i’ve been there and done that about this film, and i’m not sure how much of that makes for a good film, but a lot of this felt genuine. especially the last 1/3 of the film. i think it would be easy to write it off as “lighthearted fodder”, but it would be taking away a lot of the film’s credit. demme is able to create real male characters who deal with the issue of commitment and relationships and who don’t speak the most eloquently about women, but instead of someone like apatow who would just make jokes out of the situation he shows how empty and hollow it truly is. and he allows the characters to realize this as well. letting the characters speak the way they normally would, and do in apatow films, but showing us that they know what shmucks they’ve truly become.


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