Untitled | The Moviegoer

Friday, June 20, 2008


Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 8:11 AM


The advance screening of "The Love Guru" on Wednesday night conflicted with "Movies in the Park," the free outdoor film series in Riverfront Park and thus I missed it (Thanks to the Arkansas Blog for the shout out on Wed.; 2500 people showed up for "Happy Feet").  Arkansas native native Graham Gordy co-wrote the script with Mike Myers.  Gordy, recently on display at the Little Rock Film Festival (he wrote "War Eagle, Arkansas") graces the cover of Sync Weekly this week.

As for "The Love Guru," I can only tell you (at this point) what other critics and people who've seen the film have said.  Last night, I was at a party and the comments were unusually harsh.  It's rocking a 15% on Rottentomatoes.com and a 22 on Metacritic

A.O. Scott of the New York Times writes, "To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious. The word “unfunny” surely applies to Mr. Myers’s obnoxious attempts to find mirth in physical and cultural differences but does not quite capture the strenuous unpleasantness of his performance. No, “The Love Guru” is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again."

Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal agrees, "Compared to "The Love Guru," "Get Smart" is "Citizen Kane.""  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times pans it in this 1-star review, "Myers has made some funny movies, but this film could have been written on toilet walls by callow adolescents. Every reference to a human sex organ or process of defecation is not automatically funny simply because it is naughty, but Myers seems to labor under that delusion. He acts as if he’s getting away with something, but in fact all he’s getting away with is selling tickets to a dreary experience." 

Go see it . . . I guess?

 - - - - -

UPDATE:  Lindsey Millar, over at Rock Candy, notes Arkansas Democrat Gazette film critic Philip Martin's "85" for the film.  I read PM's review.  He clearly found the film funny.  His opinion is what it is; the Dem Gaz pays him for that.  That said, Millar raises the question, "Wonder if Arkansas connections factor in?"  I have no idea, of course.

Until recently, Arkansans haven't been subjected to really great filmmaking (or true access to filmmakers or projects).  Joey Lauren Adams made a very fine film in "Come Early Morning" which was accepted by critics and festivals alike.  The same for Jeff Nichols' "Shotgun Stories" which won several awards on the festival circuit and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.  "War Eagle, Arkansas" too which has been accepted to prestigious film festivals around the world.  Finally, of course, the work of documentarians Craig and Brent Renaud who have been nominated for a Director's Guild Award for their film "Off to War."  As an observer, it seems fair that praise should be bestowed on each of these works, whether in Arkansas, California or New York.

But David Gordon Green, also an Arkansan and far more accomplished as a filmmaker than any of these folks, is all but ignored in our state.  His latest film, "Snow Angels" arrived with little fanfare; the superfluous Little Rock Film Commission didn't throw a party.  Why not?  After all, it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. 

This summer, Mr. Green is directing "Pineapple Express," another film from the Judd Apatow file.  It's received a ton of buzz and over at InContention.com, a site I write for regularly, James Franco is climbing Kris Tapley's Oscar charts for best supporting actor.

Green went to high school in Texas, so maybe that's it.  But he attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, the same school as Nichols, and produced "Shotgun Stories." 

Yet, we all argue that Arkansas is a homer state; we're surprisingly proud of what we've produced. However, as cultural observers, there's a fine line between what's good because it's good and what's good because it's from Arkansas.  Cultivation of talent and encouragement of people is vital to our continued success - whether it involves politics, sports or movies.

Yet, we have few forums for film discussion in Arkansas.  We have a several print critics (although they reside at primarily two publications), one broadcast film critic, and a few bloggers, including myself and Derek Jenkins.

We also have people who make movies and who love movies and who contribute to the conversation (see the upcoming Oxford American "Best of the South" issue and, before, the "Film Issue") on an occassional basis.  But for a state of our size with only one statewide daily there just aren't that many mainstream opporunities for diversity of opinion when it comes to film (not to mention the growing backlash against film critics in the newspaper business generally).

That's another - and bigger - problem. However, because of the small number of outlets, I'm concerned that we have a greater potential to distort what's good simply because it comes from Arkansas.   But that doesn't excuse the obvious difficulty that films of this nature present.

UPDATE II - Philip Martin posted his response to Mr. Millar below.  As I community blogger for the Times I have absolutely no connection to how or why they do or do not review movies.  I applied for this opportunity when Max and Warwick announced the first round of community bloggers some two and a half years ago.  I do it because I really enjoy it (and we need more of it, whether you like what I write or not).  An yes, I'm a volunteer.  100%.  I'm also a supporter of the Arkansas Times and newspapers in general.  If you read my commentary over at Blake's Think Tank you know that believe in more substantive and quality content in Arkansas and across the world whether that's in print, online or both.  In that environment, the reader wins.

Regarding "The Love Guru," I haven't seen it and probably won't.  I don't mean to be disrespectful to Mr. Gordy whose work in "War Eagle, Arkansas" is very good (DISCLOSURE: Mr. Gordy grew up in Conway and was friends with my cousin, Will Churchill, who wrote the music for "War Eagle, Arkansas."  And while I'm certain Mr. Gordy and I attended a few birthday parties together when we were kids, that tenuous (at best) relationship has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion of his work that I've seen).  It's just not something that interests me, and for seven bucks plus my required large Diet Coke (another four bucks), I'll stick to things that do interest me like the marvelous "The Visitor" which I just saw at Market Street Cinema. 

Of course, that doesn't say anything at all about whether I'd like the movie.  I truly have no idea.  It doesn't look appealing, which tells me something.  But as everyone that's ever watched movies knows: we can all be surprised.  And that's why every man's opinion is his own.

PM, if you'll notice in my comments that I referenced the Little Rock Film Commission's party as an example of the kind of fanfare that welcomed "The Love Guru" but did not welcome "Snow Angels." But maybe they tried and just couldn't get it together.

 - - - - -

I can't say there appears to much more hope for "Get Smart."  Roger Ebert really liked it and so did J. Hoberman of the Village Voice.  But Manohla Dargis of the New York Times had this to say, "Stanley Kubrick could have made doomsday funny (wait, he did), but a movie like “Get Smart,” engineered for big laughs and little pain, can only lob cotton balls. It flounders whenever it tries to weave the real world into its fantasia, partly because it isn’t really about anything other than making money, partly because the spy-versus-spy battle doesn’t entertain the way it once did."

And Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, ""GET SMART" is a film mistaken about its own identity. As a reworking of one of the great 1960s TV comedies, you'd think being funny would be its main goal. But you would be wrong. Very, very wrong."


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