Thursday, May 21, 2009

I wish for a more perfect More Perfect Union

This is not the worst movie I have ever seen. That said, it was awful. Rarely do I find myself laughing at a drama, but I can point out at least six times when I erupted into cackles. This film is about as subtle as a billboard.First of all, the acting is SO forced and overdone (with the one grand exception of Ben Franklin, who has no idea what he's doing). James Madison is such an unstable cry-baby that one solid "Yo' Mamma is so fat" joke from Roger Sherman would have had him weeping all the way back to Virginia. In the music scene in the garden, I wanted so desperately for General Washington to say, "You know Jimmy, most men have been weened by your age...."

A huge problem with the film is that the main drama swirls around if the Senate should be represented based on the population of the state or if each state should have an equal voice. Call me crazy, but I never had a problem with the way congress is set up. I remember being a fourth grader in Ms. Pinder's class and thinking it was fantastically brilliant. So unfortunately, lines like "History will never forgive us for this" ("this" meaning equal representation in the senate) uttered by the protagonist seem WAY over the top and ridiculous.

As a connoisseur of Mormon movies, I got a huge kick out of the casting. There were so many times when I was like, "Who IS that guy? Oh..... He's Pilate, from the 'Lamb of God.'" My personal favorite was how Doubting Thomas from "Finding Faith in Christ" plays a doubting Thomas. In fact there were so many actors from "The Lamb of God" and "Finding Faith in Christ" that I half expected the titular character of both films to walk on at any moment and hand them the Constitution.

Now let's talk about accents. The one pro-slavery southerner was the laziest accent actor I have ever seen. His idea of a drawl was clipping is -ing's into -in's. And he left it at that. Or how about the dude at the end who reads the constitution? He had a HORRIBLE Utah valley accent. (The fortunate thing about Utah-valley-dwellers is that they are totally unaware that they speak a variant form of English, so most of the people watching the film will be clueless on this point.) Also, a personal note to Kurt Bestor: I expected much, MUCH more from you, sir. That score was like being hit with an ironing board. We know 15 seconds in advance before anyone says anything important because there's always an oh-so-subtle orchestra crash.

But I have to admit, as heavy handed as the script is on civic and theological points, it really has its moments. The tragedy is that each of those moments meets a massacre from the director and cast. Ben Franklin was SOOOOOO bad. I got the feeling he didn't really understand his lines--like he was ESL or something. I hated him before he was even on camera in the scene where Washington knocks on his gate and he fumbles on an otherwise funny line about women.

Or how about the concluding American Agrarian Montage? Look at us in our cute little montage! We're so American and agrarian! Heck, we're even equestrian!

So in conclusion, I loved the heck out of this movie in none of the ways it intended. It's horrible, and for that reason I would buy it in an instant if I could. BYU is capable of producing a great historical film, by the way. I recommend watching "Truth and Conviction" as soon as you're done with "A More Perfect Union" for a potent reminder as to why the institution is still accredited after producing such a piece of doo-doo.

1 comment:

  1. I show this movie to my class - they get lost, but I love it!