Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Son of Big Chill

Somebody once told me that there are really only five original ideas for a movie.   And the more I go to films, the more I believe this to be true.

You all remember "The Big Chill?"   A great movie about a bunch of college pals reconnecting after one of their friends commits suicide.   They spend a weekend together to talk and repair their lives.   Indeed, that might be standard movie plot #4 because it's been redone a thousand times.    Most recently, that copycat would be "The Intervention," a small and strangely entertaining film that owes its entire existence to "The Big Chill."  The youngins in this story could be the children or even...gasp...grandchildren of the characters of "The Big Chill."

While the former was a terrific movie that I watched over and over again, "The Intervention" probably has a shelf life of about a week.   I saw it two weeks ago and it's already available on demand.   It's a work that's not going to save lives or win Oscars.   But it's a perfectly good way to spend ninety or so minutes.  

As I said, the plot is Big Chill-ese for sure.   In this case, we're talking a bunch of thirty-somethings...three couples who want to take a weekend at a house that looks just like the one in "The Big Chill" and help a fourth couple with their marital issues.  Essentially, a group of busy bodies who just can't help butting into each other's lives.  

Yeah, that's it. plot wise.

The writer/director/producer/co-star is Clea Duvall and you will recognize her from about two hundred TV and movie appearances.   She has fashioned this script from her real life as she apparently has a similar bunch of busy bodies around her.  As a result, a lot of the humor rings true and there are some genuine laughs as well as awkward moments where friends insert themselves into your business a little too far.   

While the characters are pretty stereotypical including the now token gay or lesbian couple that shows up in everything Hollywood produces in 2016, I give Duvall props for not succumbing to the demands for diversity.   There are no Blacks or Hispanics or Asians or Muslims in "The Intervention."  Maybe there are none in Duvall's circle.   And, frankly, that's okay.  Not every single film should be required to promote the demographic rainbow.

The acting in "The Intervention" is pretty spot-on and the always welcome Melanie Lynskey is perfect as the busiest body of them all.  Yes, there is a sameness to the plot and the movie forges no new ground.  But, frankly, sometimes that's okay, too.  If you're entertained, don't think about how you got there.   Just enjoy the ride.

A side note about "The Intervention."   It's one of those many small independent films that tries to get traction by scheduling Q and A sessions with the moviemakers when it's being shown.   This happens in Hollywood and my screening of "The Intervention" had such a session afterwards.   Clea Duvall was there and I was really curious on how she came to this story...with or without "The Big Chill."  The only problem with this forum was she brought along one of her co-stars, some dipshit named Ben Schwartz, who hijacked the proceedings with his incessant need to be funny and/or drop the F bomb. Indeed, his performance in the movie was by far the weakest and certainly didn't merit a personal appearance.  He was available likely because he couldn't get a date for Saturday night.

Too bad.   Because I was dying to hear somebody ask Clea this question.

"How much did 'The Big Chill' influence you when you were writing this movie?"

LEN'S RATING:   Three stars.

Dinner last night:  Caprese salad.

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