This turned out to be less a movie review than a rant. Sorry about that.
I like to think that there really isn’t any particular “type” of movie that I either totally love or totally hate. I’m kidding myself, of course, though there are very few genres of cinema where there hasn’t been at least a few examples that I thought were above the rest. There have been a (very) few superhero movies I enjoyed. “Chick flick” is not a term that turns me off at all. Now and then even something as foreign to me as a slasher/gorefest movie can work, such as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. But I guess time has gotten to me, because this movie, which I have every reason to believe is a well-told (by Diablo Cody) and well-made (by Jason Reitman) and well-acted (by Charlize Theron) movie about a mother of three who is slowly going bananas under the pressures of ordinary life … is just not for me. About twenty minutes in, during a long and excruciating montage of caring for her squalling and shitty and stinking newborn (and they all are, you know they are), I threw in the towel. Been there, done that, and I threw away the fucking t-shirt. I just didn’t want to see any more of it. So forget this “review.” You may love it. I might have loved it, if I had been able to stick around for the arrival of the nanny who is supposed (according to the synopsis) to have made all this bearable. But I couldn’t.
One idle observation: Charlize Theron said she gained 50 pounds to play the mother. It’s her business and her body, but I will go on record again as saying I think this is foolish. It was foolish when De Niro bulked up, and when Christian Bale starved himself. And today, of course, the extra fat can easily be added or subtracted in CGI or with make-up. Hell, Charlize didn’t have her arm amputated to appear in Mad Max: Fury Road. It occurs to me that, if that’s what you have to do to play a role, maybe you’re in the wrong profession.
One more thing. Her second child has some sort of behavioral problem that looks a lot like autism. He becomes obsessive, throws horrendous tantrums, and of course that means that the lives of everyone around him revolve around him. You walk in tiptoe for fear of setting him off. At school, the teachers have to devote 50% of their time to him, and 50% to their other twenty students. This is called “mainstreaming.” Which is a good thing … for special needs children who are not behavioral problems.
Believe me, my ex-wife was disabled, and we supported this idea. But there are limits. It is ridiculous to educate those we used to call retarded alongside those with normal to exceptional abilities. It also makes no sense to put high-IQ students in classrooms with average kids. Once again, I know. I was bored silly in most of my classes. We had just instituted “accelerated” learning in my high school, but didn’t fund it. We were promised a second year of physics, for example, but there was no one on the faculty qualified to teach it. So to fill in that vacant space in my curriculum I and two of my friends basically taught Physics 101 in our senior year, while the ostensible teacher sat on his ass reading or sleeping.
Sorry, I got off on one of my pet peeves there. These days, zealots who insist on “equality” for everyone are opposed to putting the brightest students in special classes, just as they insist on putting slow learners into the mainstream population. Result: the bright ones don’t get the education they need, and the dumb ones (I’m being deliberately offensive by using that word) drag down everyone else. Why anyone thought this is a good idea is beyond me, but I sort of wonder if that’s why we are graduating students who can’t write a coherent sentence or solve an equation or point to Bolivia on a map. Gee, ya think?