Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Case for a Canterbury Quake Film

I would not normally go to a film like Love Birds as it looked like a pedestrian rom-com starring Sally Hawkins, whom I learned to loathe many years ago in the highly irritating film Happy-Go-Lucky. Combining these negative factors with a running time of nigh on 2 hours would be a further nail in my normal decision coffin. But, as this was for a good cause, I decided to bite the bullet, pay my money, and head along.

First off, let me say that the film was definitely appreciated: there were belly laughs, and surprised squeaks and Kiwi-culture-referencing knowing chuckles. There were smiles all around when the lights came up too - or at least there were from my companions, as I was struggling to recover from around 120 minutes of torture. So, it was not my thing, really.

No, about halfway through the film, I found myself curling up into a foetal position, thanks to the lovely 2 person couches that are a feature of the Lighthouse in Petone (I could not have done that at Readings, though I would have wanted to). Being in the front row meant that I was almost a part of the film, but after a while my eyes started narrowing as an automatic defence mechanism as my brain tried to protect itself, so the image got a bit less intense from then on.

And I am being a bit melodramatic to be sure. Rhys Darby as Doug is actually quite winning, and there are a couple of his trademark deadpan witticisms that actually did have me emit the odd chortle. But unfortunately he, and everyone else in the film, is outshone by Pierre – the Paradise Shelduck. I am sure there was more than one Paradise Shelduck involved in the shooting of the film, but if there had to be one award for this film for emerging talent, I think he would be the shoo-in victor.

Its not really because of the actors – I was surprised to find that even Sally Hawkins didn’t really repel me. It’s mainly because their parts aren’t really characters as such, more lines written and read to support Doug’s story. Not that there is anything wrong with that – it’s what rom-coms tends to be all about really. But normally supporting characters provide comic relief from the main story, whereas here Darby is the funniest actor by miles so that leaves those around him with almost nothing to do. And the story, an almost random assortment of scenes collected from other movies over the years, holds no surprises, and only the scenes (I can’t really call it a story) with the randy assistant zookeeper actually kept my interest.

However, what really tipped me over the edge was the incessant score, from the “now feel THIS” school of emotional prompting. Occasional musical accompaniment to generate emotions, fine – 127 Hours did this quite well; non stop, every scene, every emotion musical cues like in Love Birds are definitely not.

The final thing of note, and it is a big plus, is the use of many Queen songs throughout the movie. Played big and loud, it reminded me how awesomely enormous their music is, and how I am criminally negligent in not owning more of it than I do – something the film reminded me that I had to remedy. It’s a great thing that the Queen music is so good, as it transcends some of the more painful scenes in which it is used. Even the end credit lip synching song, another unimaginative “standard” this kind of light comedy movie, was raised above the cringe worthy by the use of another Queen anthem, though I felt transported to a Highland realm rather than being reminded about the movie I had just (quasi) watched set in scenic Auckland.

Verdict: Well, going to see Love Birds was for charity. 2 Anybodies out of 5 Somebodies to Love.

1 comment:

Off-Black said...

You're a braver man than me to subject yourself to two hours of Rhys Darby, charity or no...