Instant review karma

You know that scene in Life, the Universe and Everything where Ford Prefect kills a deer by remaining perfectly still and emitting peaceful pheremones that lure it close enough to let him snap its neck? I learned this weekend that I have that power, too. But only while playing Etrian Odyssey.

My girlfriend and I went up to China Camp State Park so she could take some photos for an assignment, and once my digital camera’s batteries ran out — that berry above is one of the few interesting shots I managed — I retired to the sidelines to start up a new game of Etrian. As twilight decended on the park and the other visitors left, I was making good headway when suddenly I saw an enormous dog out of the corner of my eye. I whipped my head around to get a better glimpse, only to find the “dog” was actually two deer that had come down from the treeline to get a drink from the public dog dish next to the bench where I was sitting. The closest one was about three feet from me and was quite a bit more startled by my presence than I was by its. Well, not too startled… it backed off, but only by a few feet, and only ran away about ten minutes later when some other people walked by.

Considering how completely brutal Etrian can be, I’m surprised that I can be so calm while playing that I actually become one with nature. Clearly I have squandered this gift of unflappable coolheadedness under duress. I shoulda been a sniper.

We also watched a bunch of movies this weekend, in an act of willful self-indulgence. It was Cat’s birthday, so I let her make the film selections. Which meant romantic comedies ahoy!

No Reservations: Quite ironically, I had many reservations about this choice. In part because of Catherine Zeta-Jones. I think she’s great, almost inhumanly beautiful and a respectably capable actress, which is why I didn’t want to see this. Nothing worse than seeing a capable actor/actress slum it in a bad romantic comedy. Luckily, Hollywood lied — there was some romance, yeah, and a tiny touch of comedy, but this was actually a much sadder movie than the movie posters would lead you to believe. Tragedy is one of the few things that can redeem a movie of this genre; you beautiful people want the stupid faerie-tale ending, you better cry for it.

Also redeeming: It was largely set in a French restaurant filled with food that looked almost as good as Ratatouille’s. And Abilgail Breslin, who has turned out to be an incredibly talented child actress, had a large role which was pretty much the exact opposite of her part in Little Miss Sunshine.

Falling For Grace: This indie(-ish) movie was pretty much the romantic comedy I was dreading when I saw No Reservations. Harmless yet ineffectual, and really only redeemed because (1) Margaret Cho excels at chewing scenery and (2) much of the movie focused on a very realistic depiction of immigrant life in America without being preachy or overbearing about it. I probably would have liked it a bit more if the projectionist had bothered to focus the image, too.

The Simpsons Movie: Hey, look! I found a picture of Simpsons fans expressing their opinion of the movie.

Not that I can say anything. When we bought tickets for No Reservations, Cat was browsing through a booklet of brief summaries about the movies currently showing and stopped at the Simpsons page. The guy at the counter said, “You don’t need to read about The Simpsons! You know what it’s about. You’ve been watching the previews for 18 years.” I asked him it really kept true to the show’s 18-year run, and if this meant that the first half of the movie was going to be great and the second half would suck. He wasn’t amused… but I was right.

I stopped watching the show years ago, when Homer stopped being a well-meaning doofus and became a mean-spirited bastard, and only went to see the movie because I thought my girlfriend wanted to. (Turns out she was only going because she thought I wanted to. That falls somewhere between “Gift of the Magi” and “Ironic.”) Having gone into the theatre expecting 90 minutes of pure pain, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out not to be terrible. Sure, it’s largely a repackaging of jokes and situations from when the show was good — wow, Homer experiences a hallucinogenic vision of self-realization? How new! — but I laughed. Which is something the TV show hasn’t made me do in many, many years.

Of course, the first thing we heard after leaving the theatre was some dude on his cell phone, loudly lamenting, “Man, the Simpsons Movie sucked hard.” It was like seeing the Internet in real life.

20 thoughts on “Instant review karma

  1. The crazy thing is, I too encountered a pair of deer while walking yesterday evening. I started thinking about neck-snapping I was trying to figure out why. I decided it was from watching too many Disney Movies and [spoiler alert?] recently replaying Shadow of the Colossus. But now I know the real reason.

  2. If you’re looking for romantic comedies, why not Mostly Martha? Although it’s in German, as if that should be a problem…

  3. Man, what makes you think I want romantic comedies? These were my girlfriend’s call. I would be OK with never having to watch another romantic comedy ever again, if only to be spared chirpily upbeat trailers for upcoming movies about the works (or life) of Jane Austen.

  4. I think it means you ham it up so hard that the very stage dressings transform into delicious pork, which you are then incapable of resisting. Obviously this only applies if you’re neither Jewish nor Muslim.

  5. The reaction to The Simpsons Movie has been overwhelmingly positive by critics and fans alike. And I think you’re being a little harsh – just because someone hates something you like doesn’t make them from the OMG INTARWEBZ. Sure, his statement was hyperbolic, but that’s how most people are when it comes to criticism.

  6. Yeah. He probably just didn’t get the number of Epic Lulz he felt his movie ticket entitled him to.

  7. Jaded Simpsons fans have existed for over a decade, while the show was still in its prime. I’m hardly surprised by that guy on his cell.

  8. Re: Sniper Training

    Do you choose being a sniper because you like the idea of having a ridiculously advanced optical set? Or do you just plan to oogle dancing nurses to refill your health gauge?

  9. Bob: you’re taking it too personally. You missed the part where I said the second half was lousy and assumed an amused observation was an attack.

  10. Sorry about that. I complained about the movie after seeing it, too, but I had the common decency to wait until I got in my car. I didn’t want to ruin the mood of all the people singing the Spider-Pig song.

  11. Hmm… have you seen Mostly Martha? I haven’t gone to see No Reservations yet because people keep telling me “the original was much better.” I really want to watch it, but don’t want to be disappointed.

  12. Funnily enough, I was out for a bike ride on the public trail that runs behind my house and two deer crossed a couple hundred feet in front of me. My reaction of “them’s some big doggies…no wait, they’re deer” was pretty similar to your’s. You’d think having grown up in the Midwest and seeing deer pretty much once a month it wouldn’t be a big deal anymore, but I think Bambi put some kind of wash into my brain to be in awe and delight at the sight of woodland fauna.

  13. I see deer every day. The population has grown out of control, and they’ve become a real nuisance. When I first moved here, I would be awed by their prescence. My reaction now is akin to “damn kids, get off my lawn”.

  14. That scene was actually from Restaurant at the End of the Universe, not Life, the Universe and Everything.

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