Upside of Anger (1/10)

by Tony Medley

The upside to watching a lousy movie is that I get to write a critical movie review. There are several reasons why a movie can be lousy. One is that it’s long, slow, and boring. Another is that it has low moral values. This qualifies on both counts in spades. It’s long, slow, and boring. It has low moral values, one of which, a mainstay of secular Hollywood, is free sex without commitment or responsibility. Worse, this film promotes the deterioration of the basic family relationship with the parent providing the moral force for the children.

Throw in the facts that the lead male character, Denny Davies (Kevin Costner), is a slovenly, unshaven slob whose house looks as if it hadn’t been cleaned since the millennium, and the leading female character, Terry Wolfmeyer (Joan Allen), is a shrewish witch. The upshot is that you’ve got two hours of looking at your watch willing it to end. The bad news is that it doesn’t, at least for two long hours.

Then, of course, there’s also the fact that there is simply no rational explanation why Denny, who is a good-looking guy even if he is a unkempt slob, would be attracted to Terry, who is not only an alcoholic and a pain to be with, but is unflattering in appearance and has the sex appeal (and shape) of a blade of grass.

Then there’s the plot, you should pardon the expression. Terry is angry because she thinks her husband, who she apparently loved, has run away with his secretary. We don’t know why she thinks this, but that’s what she says. In the end, it turns out she was 100% wrong, which leads to the question, why does the film try to make us believe that she had a great marriage if her first thought when her husband disappears is that he’s run off with a mistress? Wouldn’t the first thought of a good spouse be that something bad might have happened to him? But that didn’t occur to Terry. She just got mad and apparently took it out on her four lovely daughters, who keep saying how happy she used to be. Well, you have to take their word on that because she’s not happy in this picture.

The morality of this film is Hollywood chic, which is to say there is no morality. That shouldn’t be a surprise given the secular, left wing bent of the leading actors. Terry takes Denny into her bed in full view of her daughters. Denny, a radio talk show host, introduces one of the daughters to his 40-ish producer Adam “Shep” Goodman (Mike Binder, who also wrote, produced, and directed), another unshaven slob who promptly beds her, a teenager…in Terry’s house…in front of Terry! But what can Terry say? After all, she’s been bedding Denny…in her house…in front of her daughters. Terry has abdicated the strength of a mother’s responsibility as a moral arbiter for her daughters by failing to provide a proper example. Terry is irritated, but doesn’t do anything to stop it except to let Shep know she hates him. An equally self-centered Denny watches the seduction without doing anything about it, either. But when he thinks that Shep has hit on Terry, he fires him. Denny really didn’t care that Shep corrupted Terry’s daughter, but when he thinks he’s the one who’s being hurt he reacts with indignation.

Terry, also, is as selfish as they come. When Terry’s oldest daughter tells Terry she’s getting married and that she’s pregnant, too, all Terry worries about is that she didn’t know anything about it. Apparently Terry isn’t concerned that her daughter has conceived a baby out of wedlock. And her daughter isn’t concerned about that, either. The only thing that worries her is that she will “show” at the wedding. But that’s Hollywood for you. A runaway epidemic of teenage pregnancies doesn’t bother these modern day filmmakers from glorifying out of wedlock pregnancy by simply accepting it as a matter of course. Morals? That’s a bad word in Hollywood.

The movie ends with a sophomoric soliloquy by Terry’s youngest daughter that seeks to justify Terry’s irrational anger. It is so juvenile it’s a fitting epitaph for this foolish, reprehensible movie.

 April 2, 2005