Monday, December 20, 2010

Mary-Louise Parker Is... Mary Louise Parker!

Thoughts I had while watching... RED (2010)

A few years ago I attended one of those New Yorker festival interviews that featured Mary-Louise Parker and the writer/moderator called her "a chameleon" after showing a clip of her from a movie I didn't recognize in which she wore a blond wig. It was the most ridiculous thing I heard that entire movie year.

Mary-Louise Parker is not a chameleon. Mary-Louise Parker plays Mary-Louise Parker. Like most enduring star actors, she's very very good at her one role.

This random memory came to me while watching RED, the October action comedy (yes, I'm two months late.) about Retired and Extremely Dangerous operatives, that the Golden Globe and Satellite voters unfortunately tossed into the precursor-mandated viewing schedule.

In the film Mary-Louise Parker plays Mary-Louise Parker with a headset. She works a boring job answering phones in some payroll divison of government and she enjoys flirting with retired killer Bruce Willis played by not-retired action star Bruce Willis. Once someone takes a hit out on Willis, MLP gets caught up in the madness.

All of the delightful MLPisms were there: the stoned line-readings, the sly smiles, the wide eyed narcisstic "this is happening? to me ???" wonder, that improbably unique fusion of frazzled and narcotized performance energy as if her body and mouth have never quite decided which brain  chemicals or illegal substances are in power during that moment.

The movie is not good. But I can't lie and say I didn't enjoy it at all. Here are the things I enjoyed about it most in descending order.
  • Mary Louise Parker playing Mary Louise Parker.
  • Bruce Willis playing Bruce Willis.
  • Mary Louise Parker mumbling "pizza" from beneath duct tape after much unintelligible screaming about being tied up and duct-taped. It's true, I LOLed.
  • Mary Louise Parker hiding behind Bruce Willis when confronted with John Malkovich playing John Malkovich. My what big teeth he has. "All the better to chew scenery with, my dear"
  • Karl Urban being sexy, especially whilst wounded. 
  • Bruce Willis casually stepping out of a madly spinning car, as if it's in park and he's just running errands... with loaded firearms.
But mostly I did not enjoy it. For these reasons.
  • Brian Cox mangling a Russian accent. 
  • Rebecca Pidgeon being cast as someone who you're not supposed to know is sinister, because she's always sinister.
  • This is a personal thing but I have a super low tolerance for "comedies" that think rapidly escalating body counts are hilarious. And seriously this thing is vile with the 'killing people is fun and wacky! twinkly cheer.
  • That neighborhood where not a single house lights up or neighbor emerges while a group of men machine gun a house for what feels like an hour.
  • General laziness.
  • The pervasive feeling that it might never end.
  • The joke with the stuffed pig did not work. The set up, punchline and execution didn't feel at all in synch for what was, I can only presume, supposed to be a big takeaway gag. I mean, they even sent awards voters that very pig (albeit in miniature form).
Monty, who attacks stuffed animals on sight, was weirdly docile
when confronted with "the pig".

Lastly, I did not enjoy Morgan Freeman as Morgan Freeman or Helen Mirren as Helen Mirren because they both seemed to be phoning it in for a quick buck and both are capable of so much more. Seriously, do these two ever say "no" to an offer? Did any big-salaried actors make easier paychecks this year?

Even if you didn't see the movie... (you dodged a bullet --- thousands of them actually) do you like it when Mary-Louise Parker plays Mary-Louise Parker?

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