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Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Lisa and I walked out of Sideways maybe forty minutes in, or possibly longer. I couldn't stand spending any more time with two overgrown boys I thought deserved a good spanking, not a movie about them.

What threw me out of the movie, though, was an issue of trust. With the two leads behaving like such imbeciles -- 45-year-old overgrown imbeciles -- I couldn't trust in a happy ending. Considering the movie is sort of a romantic comedy if it's anything at all -- our antihero meets a charming girl that he's having trouble appreciating because of issues in his past -- not knowing if he'd screw it up with the girl or not was too much weight on my enjoyment. If I'm going to invest my heart in a movie, I want to know it won't be stomped on.

This may seem unsophisticated, but I think how relationships work is much more interesting than how they fail. There are so many ways for relationships to fail, it's a wonder anybody stays together. What's amazing is when they succeed. That's what I want to see movies about: what's amazing.

I wonder exactly how the movie lost my trust? Was it how little in the two leads' relationship was set up in the beginning, so I didn't know what ground the movie stood on? Was it how little in about Paul Giamatti's character seemed extraordinary, so that no obstacle seemed unsurmountable, and yet no situation seemed too easy for him to screw up anyway? Was it that I had no idea what he actually wanted?

You can't build a house on that sort of swamp. And the dialog just wasn't clever enough to gloss over the story's shortcomings. So all that left was a series of dinners and drinks. We decided that dinners and drinks sounded like a much better idea than watching a pair of losers get dinners and drinks, and so we left.


I don't know if you have seen Charles Taylor's review of Sideways in Salon, but he seems to agree with you completely:

By Blogger Martine, at 1:34 PM  

Interesting that to a fairly large extent you hated it because the characters weren't likeable.

In an interview on Hollywoodlitsales, Alexander Payne, the co-writer/director of "Sideways" says of sympathetic characters, "I never talk about sympathetic characters. Number one, the truth is sympathetic. Number two, we make comedies so we want the movie to be sympathetic…we're interested in people, we want to see truthful people…we show our love for people precisely by including all aspects [of a character], as many as we can, in the limited form of a two-hour film." Payne says that if an exec says your protagonist isn't sympathetic, just say: "It hasn't been cast yet. That's the answer."

Huh. Guess they didn't cast too well.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 AM  

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