I am so happy to bring you what I am hoping is a regular feature. My sister, in case you didn’t know, was a Film and Media studies minor in college and currently lives in a bangin’ apartment with a tv set, a lack of cable access, a huge collection of estate sale video tapes, and a flair for writing. This column is the natural result. I give you MC Casual FilmStyles.
What I Watched on VHS: Tales from the Compound
“Waterworld” a.k.a. “What do you get when you weld together all the steel available in Hawaii but don’t include any potties?”
FilmStyles sez: When you’re broke, the best way to amass a physical library of filmic masterpieces is to own a VCR (we found ours in the garbage!) and raid thrift stores for vintage VHS. Luckily, the era of videocassettes corresponded with a certain golden age of American cinema. Watching these movies and writing this column are the main two real-world uses I find for my minor in film and media studies.
Last night I was finally able to convince my friends that we should be watching Waterworld. I’m the only one who hadn’t seenWaterworld – all I knew is that it had become a punchline for being an overbudgeted failure.
After making someone else retrieve it from its home on the movie shelf – the “Criterion Collection,” said criterion being that each movie cost less than or equal to $1 – I couldn’t help but notice that the back-of-box copy read dangerously like a summary of Road Warrior. My friend N— had once convinced me to see the least watchable movie ever, Rollerball, on the grounds that it would be “like Road Warrior but with roller derby.” Bad choice! Don’t emulate. So the fact that this movie could be summed up as being “like Road Warriorbut with… a watery world” is a big, bad red flag.
For the record, Road Warrior is one of my favorite movies. It’s just really hard to rip off, I guess.
Another red flag, which can also be seen right on the packaging, is Kevin Costner’s hairdo. I was seriously troubled by his receding hairline all through the “loner proves himself a badass in the wilderness, comes to fortified town, rescues various townspersons from ruckus caused by dubious warlike gasoline-addicted horde of dudes and brings them to new Edenic world” plot. During the inevitable post-film debrief, I noted that the stringy sparse mess on his head called his virility into question and was reminded that since his character, the Mariner, was actually a fishlike mutant with webbed toes and gills his “manliness” as such is seriously in question either way.
It’s a bad sign when the three people watching a movie agree that its villain is the most sympathetic character. I mean, when he’s not supposed to be sympathetic. Which he’s not. The fishy, balding, crotchety Mariner, the useless and bitchy woman he saves from the atoll, and her alternately precocious/insufferable and cheesily mystical adopted daughter are supposed to be sympathetic but, as you might have guessed from my subtle use of descriptors, we did not find them so.
Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy Waterworld. If Road Warrior is my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese, and Rollerball, the world’s least watchable movie, is gluten-free pasta with vegan “chreese” cheese substitute (aka “the bad shit”), then Waterworld is Velveeta. Lame, cheesy, and I’ll probably end up consuming it at least once a year.