b Papa Dog's Blog: Not Quite a Movie Review, Because We Don't Do Them Here

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Not Quite a Movie Review, Because We Don't Do Them Here

Last night, we started watching Daddy and Them, which was William Robert Thornton’s directorial follow-up to All the Pretty Horses, which was itself his follow-up to Sling Blade, the only one of the three that was worth a damn. Daddy and Them co-starred William Robert and Laura Dern, his then-girlfriend. When he ditched Laura for another girl whose dad had been a movie star in the 70s (but was a bigger box office draw than Laura’s dad), the movie’s release date got bumped and then bumped again and then it vanished from the radar. It never had a proper theatrical release, and took its time showing up on video. At the time, there were conflicting versions of why Miramax ditched the film. Some said the studio was leery of the negative publicity from the Thornton-Dern-Jolie tabloid fest. Some said Laura Dern was somehow keeping it from being released (not a very likely scenario, really). After sitting through thirty minutes worth of the movie last night, watching Dern screech and Thornton comport himself like a not particularly clever Australopithecus, I became convinced that the third explanation was soundest: that the movie just plain sucked. Granted I’d been up since five in the morning and had had a really long and frustrating day, but still, this almost never happens: I said before Mama Dog could that I was tired and wanted to stop the movie and go to bed.

Today when we were out and about, we talked about the movie a bit and Mama Dog said she didn’t really think she wanted to see the rest of it. It’s not that easy for me, of course. A movie started is a genie from the bottle. I have to see it through the end, no matter how many loving close-ups William Robert gives to his furrowed squinting brow. This afternoon, while Baby Dog was napping and Mama Dog and Halmonie were house-hunting, I watched the rest of the movie, and…goddamn if it doesn’t get better as it goes along. I bet the Weinstein brothers gave up after the first half hour just like I did. Maybe if they’d kept with it they’d have ordered some recutting rather than ditching the thing outright.

Be that as it may, the final word goes to John Prine. He co-stars in the movie (as Thornton’s bookworm brother!), and wrote a song for it that six years ago was the title track of his lovely album of “meetin’ cheatin’ and retreatin’” duets, In Spite of Ourselves. The lesson for all involved is that in three minutes and thirty-three seconds of slyly coarse not-quite-endearments, Prine manages to do what Thornton took an hour and forty-one minutes to shakily achieve in the movie. He finds the beating, loving heart in the relationship of two people whom you probably wouldn’t want to have a meal with, but who are undeniably just right for each other.


Anonymous christine said...

I have seen this movie, on the big screen. Don't watch the rest.

8:38 PM  

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