Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Issue With the New Sam Mendes Movie

I generally quite like the new poster for Sam Mendes' Away We Go. I think it's quite original and it will definitely intrigue people. Unfortunately, everything so far about this movie - Mendes' first out-and-out comedy and his first movie with jokes at all since American Beauty - has positioned it as yet another faux-indie quirk-fest. First there was the trailer. Let's take a look, shall we?



Generally (there's that word again) it looks good enough and the cast looks like they're having a great time. And yet... and yet... it comes off a bit odd. Some of the dialogue delivery feels very much like a default Sundance title and the use of yet another indie band over the sound and with quirky animation and with that too familiar device of having likable yet serious characters surrounded by insane brainless morons who just happen to have a tendency to say comical stuff. That we're-not-trying-to-be-funny-but-we-know-we're-funny thing that infiltrates movies of this kind, ya know? Or am I the only one getting that vibe? Even the beats of the trailer are all so very familiar and targeted.

And now here's the poster.


It's nice to not see a poster that's just the lead actors in front of a plain background, but I think this is perhaps going too far with the quirk. At least Juno had the sense the keep that shit to inside the movie and not cover the whole damn poster (later reversed for the DVD release) in so much flotsam and jetsam. Even down to the cutesy way the film's rating is presented. It all just comes as too calculated and gives me a twitch that I can't get rid of. Especially since this is Sam Mendes we're talking about, someone who is not exactly known for this sort of style. Bandwagons have never been so appealing or some such!

Basically, I just have this overriding sense that I'm going to flat out despise this movie as if it's a culmination of all the things I have disliked about so many movies lately. I can picture it being full of hipster traits and indie cliches with a twee soundtrack to match. I wonder if there will be a scene where Krasinski and Rudolph stand on top of a van in the middle of an implausible quarry and scream their lungs out while wearing hilariously so-lame-they're-hip ponchos. I feel like there should be.

6 comments:

Paul Martin said...

I agree with everything you say and yet... it's a Mendes film

Kamikaze Camel said...

Indeed, I still hold out hope but I just fear that it'll all feel like nothing more than jumping onto a bandwagon because his last few movies haven't done as well as he would have hoped.

I would love for Mendes to return to the acidic comedy of American Beauty, but this just feels so... not lightweight, but uninspiring. We'll see.

Paul Martin said...

I like everything he's done, Road to Perdition not so much. The clip appeals to the Sundance American indie quirky family market, but that's just marketing. Somehow, I can't imagine Mendes doing another Juno, Towelhead or Little Miss Sunshine [cringe][shudder].

Matt Riviera said...

I think when the faux-indie Juno-quirk aesthetics go mainstream (and despite his lo-fi aspirations Soderbergh is tres mainstream), it'll push genuine indies further leftfield, hopefully moving the entire movie-graphic sensibility spectrum one notch towards its more creative extremity. That's a good thing, non?

Fernando Moss said...

I actually think it might be good...

And I've liked almost all Mendes films, in different degrees.

Jack said...

I completely agree- my sole reservation with the "Where the Wild Things Are" poster is the hand-written cutesy Fox Searchlight font the title is in. This sort of marketing needs to be done away with...except it seems that everything that makes use of it is successful. Ugh.