‘Twilight’ of the Cranky Guys: Our Final Review
Bruce Fretts: Regis Philbin and Andy Rooney aren’t the only Cranky Guys saying goodbye. Bret Watson has decided to step down from this blog, and what was the cinematic straw that broke the camel’s back? The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1. The question is, Bret: WHY?
Bret: I had an epiphany while sitting through about 30 minutes of this movie. After more than a year of watching crappy movies, I can’t do it anymore. Hollywood has beaten me. Life is too short for me to endure two Adam Sandler movies in one year.
Bruce: I knew it was Jack and Jill‘s fault! So I take it you didn’t like what you saw of Twilight either?
Bret: I left after about 40 minutes, because I thought: I’m in no position to judge this movie. I didn’t read the books, I didn’t see the previous movies, I don’t know what’s going on, and even if I did, I’m not the intended audience for this movie. If I were a tweenage female Twilight follower, maybe I could understand why anyone cared about 40 minutes of a young couple getting married and going on their honeymoon. Did you understand what was going on?
Bruce: I did, although I haven’t read any of the books and only saw the first movie. Maybe I picked up the story line through osmosis. It starts with a wedding between Bella Swan, a mortal, and Edward Cullen, the member of a family of undead blood-sucking monsters—kinda like the Kardashians, but less scary. The fun really begins—and ends—when Edward gets Bella pregnant and no one’s sure what’s in her womb. But I guess you’d left before that happened, huh?
Bret: I knew it was coming, but I didn’t stick around for it. Sorry, Reader, if you are counting on me to advise your movie viewing. But I suspect you are not. Bruce, how can you see so many mediocre-to-awful movies? Why did you subject yourself to Twilight and then urge me to follow suit? Why did you expend some of your precious vacation time on this?
Bruce: I’m a glutton for movie punishment. Always have been. I almost blew off a midterm in college so I could see Teen Wolf Too. But you didn’t miss much by leaving this movie early because once the seed is planted, so to speak, NOTHING HAPPENS. It reminded me of the penultimate Harry Potter movie when they were lost in the woods forever. I guess that’s the problem you run into when you break a book into a two-part movie. You end up with half a story. But you’re not the target audience for Harry Potter either, and you like that series, don’t you?
Bret: Yes, I enjoyed the Potter series. But I saw each movie in turn. Breaking Dawn makes zero concessions to someone who might be dropping in for the first time. Characters keep insinuating that horrible things will happen if this couple went through with the wedding, but I couldn’t follow it. Maybe they knew that the shrimp buffet had gone bad, I dunno.
Bruce: I only dabbled in the Potter films, but I see a big difference between the franchises: The Potter cast can act. All three main kids are talented, and they’re supported by great British character actors. The Twilight kids, on the other hand, are pretty terrible—Pattinson can at least fake a convincing American accent, but Kristen Stewart is surly and unlikable, and Taylor Lautner is stiffer than a hunk of wood. And the supporting cast is a bunch of B-list TV actors like Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser. Not exactly Ralph Fiennes and Dame Maggie Smith.
Bret: I sat there wondering, What do fans see in these characters? They strike me as bland verging on unappealing. And do Patinson’s teeth naturally look like he’s always just finished drinking grape juice, or is that because he’s a vampire? So many questions…
Bruce: That might just be because he’s British. They’re not known for their great dentistry. But in terms of the story’s appeal, I guess it’s a thinly veiled metaphor for abstinence. Still, Bella and Edward waited until after they got married to do it. Are teens supposed to take the message that they shouldn’t even have post-marital sex?
Bret: I was shocked at how they’d showed more of the wedding night and morning after than I’d want a kid of mine to see. At what age would you let Olive see this?
Bruce: 45? But seriously, I would never subject Olive to this crap. Olive and Jed notwithstanding, I still believe post-marital sex is a myth, based on my marriage. Speaking of which, I saw another film that starts with a wedding and ends with a horrific nightmare—Melancholia. Are you familiar with it?
Bret: Yes, but I’ve been saving it up for when I finish making a noose. The director, Lars von Trier, was responsible for Breaking the Waves, on my personal list of Top Five Movies I’ve Hated the Most.
Bruce: Breaking Dawn, Breaking the Waves–maybe you should avoid movies with Break in the title. Don’t tell me you hated Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, too.
Bret: I liked Spinal Tap’s album Break Like the Wind.
Bruce: So did I! But if you hated Waves, you’d probably loathe Melancholia. It’s even more depressing, but at least you can’t accuse von Trier of false advertising with the title. I watched it On Demand, which allowed me to fast-forward through the Tree of Life–like nonsensical opening sequence and get right to the wedding, which is the best part of the movie, aside from Kirsten Dunst’s full-frontal nudity, that is. She plays a depressed bride who tries to put on a brave face during her wedding day, despite the fact that a planet is about to crash into Earth, ending life as we know it. Maybe they should’ve called it Here Comes the Bride…and Gloom.
Bret: If the planet hit Earth while I was watching Jack and Jill, I’d welcome it.
Bruce: Believe it or not, that’s the least interesting part of the movie—the second half, which should have been scored with Elvis Costello’s “Waiting for the End of the World,” is draggy and dull. But the cast is fantastic. Dunst has matured into a fine actress, and the stellar supporting roster includes Kiefer Sutherland, John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling as well as Alexander Skarsgaard (from True Blood, a much juicier and more fun vampire series than Twilight) and his real-life dad Stellan (from Breaking the Waves—sorry to remind you).
Bret: So are you glad you saw Melancholia? Even if it was mostly dull? Are you even glad you saw Twilight? I’m trying to understand this compulsion of yours. I have newfound respect for critics who have to sit through so much dreck. And to think of the hours of crappy television you have to sit through in your day job!
Bruce: I am glad, because I love movies, and this blog has given me an outlet to express my frustration over how bad most of them are these days. What am I gonna do without you? Tell me the truth—you’re quitting this gig because they offered you Andy Rooney’s chair on 60 Minutes, didn’t they? Or are you going to be Kelly Ripa’s new cohost?
Bret: I’m just going to savor the freedom of not being trapped in movie theaters on beautiful weekend afternoons. You see, I’m all out of funny.
Bruce: There you have it, people: Breaking Dawn broke Bret.
Did Breaking Dawn break you, too? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys—or at least one of them—will respond!