Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Punchin' Judies.

Hyperbole can be a dangerous thing when used improperly. It can cause people to take leave of their senses and assume the worst of things. These things, more often than not, are hardly worth the effort expended on decrying them and they lead one to wonder just what the big fuss is about.

In case the last paragraph (and post title) was, in any way, vague, I went to see Sucker Punch today. Maybe, my standards are too high (or too low), but this was hardly the worst film I've seen in a while (now, why does that sound familiar?).

That's not to say that I'll serve as one of its defenders, not that there's a shortage of them; its IMDb rating is currently 6.8/10, not bad for a movie everyone supposedly hates.

The story concerns a young woman, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who is shipped off to a mental institution for murdering her younger sister, never mind that we never see the bullet from the gun she fires enter the girl, nor do we see blood staining the girl's dress, just that on Baby-Doll's fingers (more on this later). She meets a number of other girls there, including Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone, but I swear I thought it was Alexa Vega) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). Then, for reasons the movie doesn't even pretend to explain, the scene shifts from an institution to a brothel.

Within this brothel, Baby Doll escapes into fantasy, freeing her from her harsh reality(ies?). The audience is treated to a number of sequences ranging from war movie, to futuristic train chase to a medieval romp with a dragon to what I can only call steampunk Shaolin.

While I watched the film, a number of things failed to add up for me. First, why the reality shift? Granted, the institution scenes would keep the audience at arm's length if held up for the rest of the movie, but why a brothel? No, I can't name a better venue for the majority of the narrative, but it seemed arbitrary. Also, people rave about Baby Doll's dancing, but we never see it, just people's amazed reactions before another elaborate fantasy sequence. This complaint seems a little "When are they getting to the fireworks factory?", but I was curious. For the life of me, I could not get a handle on when this was supposed to be set. The 40s? The 60s? Right now? What the hell? The use of modern pop songs didn't help in this regard. I can sort of see why people complained about that in A Knight's Tale and Moulin Rouge (whose music supervisor, Marius De Vries, performed that function here): that shit's distracting.

Lastly, how obvious was it that this was cut from an R-rating? And without Zack Snyder's knowledge (I forget where I read it, but Snyder walked off of S.W.A.T. when he found out that Sony wanted a PG-13 rating for the film.)? There's the scene where Hudgens (in a moment that would give her "High School Musical" devotees pause) says (paraphrasing, so give me a break), "You ugly motherfucker!". Her lips clearly say the word, but no sound comes out. Was someone too busy to cut that part out?

Did I like anything about this movie? Carla Gugino was good as a live-action version of Bart's ballet teacher from that one "Simpsons" episode, it's always nice to see Jon Hamm, the ladies are attractive and Scott Glenn (my favorite thing in the movie) made for a perfect inscrutable guide.

Glenn has a line early on: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." I stand for this: Sucker Punch was neither great, nor lousy. It just was.

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