Monday, January 26, 2009

sundance adventure(land)

the sundance film festival, that old hipster stand-by, has just wrapped up its annual invasion. as a general rule, i really like sundance and sundance movies, though i find it sort of disconcerting that films with big budgets and major stars count as "indies." i mean, i'm sorry, but if it stars mariah carey's husband, it can't be too under-the-radar. (what would parker posey say?)

all of that aside, i usually try to take as much advantage of sundance as i can, but i was way behind the game this year and it looked like i wouldn't catch a single screening (not one! what would parker posey say?) until emily g. came through with a last-minute and hipster-status-saving offer to see "adventureland."

allow me to sum up.

geeky, curly-haired recent college grad, as a result of family money troubles, is forced to work all summer in a lame (and potentially fatal) amusement park where he falls for a beautiful, complicated co-worker who drinks all the time, hates her parents and for no discernible reason, falls head-over-heels for the aforementioned geeky, curly-haired recent college grad. happily ever after, the end. (what would parker posey say?)

to be clear, i rather enjoyed the film. it had the appropriate degree of adolescent humor (mostly revolving around smoking pot and embarrassing incidents involving the male, um, member), as well as the requisite amount of squishy emotional confession. we laughed, we cried (though not really), and all of that.

but, the more i think about it the more i am bothered by poor, well-meaning "adventureland," for two major reasons.

1. that never happens in real-life. unsalvageable nerd lands bevy of hot women while wearing amusement park uniform? i think not. but, since i watched four episodes in a row of "battlestar galactica" last night, i don't think i am arguing from a point of strength when it comes to realism in entertainment. so i am just going to move on.

2. the thing that really bothers me is that "adventureland" is just one in a recent spate of similar movie plots in which a loveable but generally average nerd unwittingly but successfully woos a totally hot girl (i'm looking at you, michael cera). a heart-warming tale, to be sure, and i want happiness for nerds everywhere as much as the next girl. i would also be lying if i said i didn't have my own little crush on lloyd dobbler and paulie bleeker and the rest.

the problem is that cinema has yet to produce a female alternative to this phenomenon of which i speak. there is no such thing as the nerdy-but-nice-girl-steals-the-jock-from-hot-cheerleaders-with-nothing-but-her-innate-if-usually-obscured-charm sub-genre. for nerdy movie girls to win over the awesome dudes (who are never really that awesome), they have to undergo some major physical transformation, call it the "grease" syndrome, which, i might point out indignantly, always, always, always involves getting rid of their glasses. and so, after shedding her bad clothes and hair, personality and quirky, independent charm (and stylish eyewear), our female protagonists can finally, miraculously win over the big man on campus.


to wit, from one of the worst offenders in this category, "she's all that":

laney boggs before:

laney boggs after:

now, i don't want this to sound like bespectacled sour grapes. movies are escapist and not real and in movie-land people see each other for who and what they really are and true love conquers all and that is why we go to the movies in the first place. yes, fine. i get it.

but once, just once, it would be nice to see a truly nerdy girl come out the winner, frames and all.

parker posey would rejoice. i am sure of it.


Kate said...

I can only come up with two underdogs of the female persuasion on the silver screen - Janeane Garofalo beating out Uma Thurman in "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" and Ricki Lake in "Hairspray" - but since neither wore glasses, do they even count?

And Lili Taylor didn't wear glasses in "Dog Fight" either but she did win over River Phoenix, I believe, with a change in hairstyle.

lenalou said...

This bugs me too! And by the way, you can always tell that the girl is gorgeous underneath the glasses. Specs, despite the movie-makers' apparent beliefs, are not automatic ugly sticks.

And I take the point about "Cats and Dogs" and "Hairspray," but neither of those two women were physically unattractive, despite being (gasp!) less than stick thin.

suvi said...

Geeky film maker boys. They NEVER get the hot girl in real life so they feel like they have to make up for it in the world they can control, aka movies. That's why there is so much porn out there too.

kat said...

i feel like sitcoms have the same, formulaic problem: fat man, hot wife. sadly the somewhat nerdy girl winning the popular guy died out with the john hughes genre.

a keyword search on of "woman wearing glasses" came up with some interesting suggestions, my favorite being "mary katherine gallagher". she was a superstar.

also, i will always be in love with lloyd dobbler. he never would've had to hold that boombox above his head if he'd met me.

becky said...

i always thought nerdy laney was so much cuter.

also, although i love grease, that ending always always ALWAYS bothered me. nice message! if ever i watched it with my mom, she'd say "no girl should have to change in that way for her boyfriend. not if he really loves you!" thanks mom. i got that point the first 100 times you told me.