Thursday, December 30, 2004

Why I'm Not Really Pretentious (But Dodgeball Was Overrated)

Last night I in a gathering with some friends we ended up watching Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. I wasn't really too keen on seeing it, because Anton had seen it and said it wasn't that great and really he's the only critic that I can trust because we usually have the same taste in movies, but I didn't want to put a damper on everyone's spirits so I agreed and didn't say anything. "What the hell," I thought, "It could be fun." I was only partially right.

Parts of the movie were truly funny - Rip Torn is funny in just about anything and the line about "but it's sterile and I like the taste so I drink it anyway" had me in stitches - but other parts weren't so much funny as grotesque (not that I can't handle that kind of thing, but it's not really very clever to have an overweight Ben Stiller playing with his man tits). And other jokes that people thought were hilarious, I found to be really, really annoying. Ben Stiller is one of those jokes. His character was so one-note and unfunny, but everyone else was laughing their asses off at him. I sometimes like Ben Stiller, but he's been so overexposed this year that I just found him annoying. I like Vince Vaughn, and Stephen Root, but they were only so-so in this film, and Vaughn, who can handle the most scathing dialogue with a master's touch played a pretty boring generic character in this film. Too bad. I would have rather watched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy again.

I felt kind of bad and wasn't too loud in voicing my apathy to the film - though I did mention that the line "You made me own blood!" was stolen from The Simpsons...Season One ("Bart the General") and people did then acknowledge that it wasn't original at all. I guess I have a very different taste in comedies. I was laughing out loud at The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou on Sunday night (much to Anton's chagrin), but others in the theatre were rather quiet. It's not that I'm particularily "high brow", but at the same time I'm not going to give in to pressure and admit that something is funny when it's not. The icing on the cake was after the movie when we were watching The Daily Show with John Stewart and I laughed more at the one segment than I did at any point during the film that did it for me. As for my juvenile tastes, I love Kevin Smith movies, Jim Carrey, and the American Pie films, but I just can't get into some movies.

I had a friend of mine call me pretentious once because I didn't have a lot of comedies in my list of favourite movies. I would argue that it's not because I don't like to laugh and tell jokes (ask anyone who really knows me and they would agree that I love to goof around and make wise ass statements), but rather because comedy is really hard to do well. Anyone can get a laugh from farting, but really great comedy takes something else. Timing. Honesty. Wit. And many comedians don't have it. It's just the way I feel.

Finally, that's why my behaviour isn't "pretentious": the word assumes a "pretense", that one is putting on an act in order to appear more educated or more wise or something. In my case, that's not it. Is it pretentious for me to defend the Star Wars prequels with tooth and nail? No, on the contrary it makes me seem silly to people, but I do it anyway because I really feel that way. Same with my taste in comedies. It's not pretentious for me to say I don't really like Ben Stiller that much and that most comedies I see aren't that great, because frankly, it's really the way I feel. And the truth can't be pretentious. Can it?


At 5:30 p.m., Blogger cait said...

Pretension infers that you are pretending at something, right, so if you genuinely feel a particular way, then it isn't pretentious. Bea always gets caught in this, and on more than one occasion I've heard her say, "but this is the way I am" when called on her love of prog rock, opera, Byron, or one of her countless "high brow" obsessions. Like what you like, regardless of where it stands in other people's opinions. (Of course, be nice about what other people like, too)

As to comedy, humour is really hard to pull off well. I also think that Ben Stiller hams it up way too much in a lot of his films. The only films I really appreciate him in are the ones where he's playing a normal human being; these are unfortunately few and far between.


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