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In Which I Speak Without Thinking

6 March 2007

Friends, I think I made a mistake this morning. And I fear it will come back to bite me in the butt.

I was on the phone with my mother, and we were chatting (Which is a miracle in itself. Most of our phone conversations end up with me making monosyllabic answers; my mother is Queen of Details, and my life is not so interesting that I can be asked more than once a week, “So, what’s up?” and have something new to say). She asked if we had seen any good movies lately (Which she rarely does. We don’t normally have the same taste in movies, I don’t watch the TV shows she does [The Today Show, Oprah, Blah blah], and I am way more to the left of the political spectrum than anybody else in the family).

“Yes!” I said. We watched Little Miss Sunshine this weekend, and I thought it was really very good. Alan Arkin definitely deserved the Oscar for Supporting Actor, and I totally agree that the writing was worth an Oscar as well. I’m sure everyone else in the known world has already seen it, but in case one of you haven’t—go out and rent it. I’m sure you’ll like it.

Sure, Alan Arkin’s language is not peppered, but dripping, with fuck!s, but that has never stopped me from letting the girls hear that on screen (It’s not like I have ever been able to keep a clean mouth for more than a few hours anyway.) Sure, the grandpa snorts cocaine, but it’s not like the character gives you a “how-to”, and the two scenes where powder is visible are short and he never acts high in front of his granddaughter, and he’s got a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he’s become a cocaine addict at this point in his life.

Sure, Uncle Frank (played by Steve Carrell) has just attempted suicide and the family is now on a suicide prevention watch, but his character is very open about what’s going on in his life, and there’s no melodrama to it. (Plus, Steve Carrell is fabulous in this role. A depressive gay Proust scholar, what more could you want?).

I love the tenderness in the three supporting male roles (crotchety grandpa, suicidal Uncle Frank, and the classic teen angst-ridden older brother). It sneaks out at just the right moments to turn these characters into something beyond the stick figures they could have been under a less well-written screenplay or by less professional actors. I really think everyone should see it. (And, the beauty pageant denouement is beyond good. Olive’s routine was just perfect. Perfect!)

Except … well … (warning: spoiler coming)

The grandfather dies halfway through. So I’m afraid my mother won’t like it. See, when Richard Harris (the first Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise) died, and my mother asked me if I had heard, I said, in all naiveté, “Well, yes, but at least he lived a nice full life. He didn’t die young, and he was part of some very good filmmaking.”

“What?!!!! He was only 72! I’m not that far off you know!” At the time, she was 61, folks. But the idea of death is definitely more on one’s mind at the age of 61 than during one’s late 30s.

Ooops. Maybe Three of Four or Split Sister can watch it with her. Oh, and, guys, make sure you watch it with her early in the day. Because I really think the movie is a must-see. But, I think I might have stuck my proverbial foot in my big fat mouth. (Which I realized only after our phone conversation was over, of course. Darn!)

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