3/12/07

Bed of Roses (2006)

Christian Slater (Lewis), Mary Stuart Masterson (Lisa), Pamela Segall (Kim), Josh Brolin (Danny)

Michael Goldenberg

Plot: A widowed florist plays fairy tale hero to a work-obsessed woman. Romance ensues. Apparently.

I have issues with the DVD cover and promo poster. Although he looked wonderful throughout the film in tricked out 1940s clothes, Christian Slater is dressed in jeans and looks vaguely like Dwight Yoakam when he plays a hillbilly idiot. So I picked a different image.

I also have issues with the idea that fans of romantic movies can be had with just about any throw-together POS. Fans of romanctic fiction are generally treated with the same low level of respect and regard, as if we cannot tell the difference between genuine feeling and a box full of tired, manipulative cliches. Whereas Untamed Heart annoyed me because of its hurtful and arbitrarily sad ending, this one had no heart to rip out in the first place. Annoying and insulting.

Did I watch this film with anyone else in the room? No! First, because I wanted to enjoy Slater by myself. (I used "watch my movie" as motivation to hit my writing goal last night.) But second, because it was positively cringe-worthy. I would have hid my head in shame and embarrassment if sharing this with anyone. And the nausea comes wrapped in a 1996-heavy soundtrack including, most cloyingly, Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream" -- to top it off with an extra scoop of sweet.

Let's work with extremes, shall we? Abandon all subtlety and grace, ye who go here? Agreed!

Slater's Lewis is a former finance guy whose wife died during childbirth. He was at the office when she kacked off, so naturally he's messed up about his shitty, work-aholic past self. He ditches that life in favor of growing plants, taking long midnight walks, and working as a flower delivery guy. He loves seeing the happy expressions on people's faces when they open the door to a huge honking bouquet -- because that's what straight guys live for. He maintains a secret garden on his rooftop, enjoys a good storytime at the public library -- whether for the buffet of kids, the pre-school IQ story, or a torturous reminder of the baby he lost, we're never told -- and he has a family the size of Cleveland.

Masterson's Lisa is an orphan who doesn't even know her birthday. Her adoptive father is a prize-winning alcoholic with a thing for little girls. Fun! She has no understanding of the concept of "family," despite having actually made it to adulthood amongst other humans. Her supportive best friend takes a fair amount of shit from the crazy lady, for no other reason than she is the best friend and that is her karmic duty. Babies and kids and brothers and big ole' Christmas parties give her asthma attacks, but in this she should realize she is not alone.

The director, who also wrote the screenplay, must have decided on the following formula. Sexy man + flowers + children + an almost pathological sentimentality = even sexier man! Nope. Sympathetic woman + childhood trauma + demanding job + dead goldfish = even more sympathetic woman! Nope.

While Lewis is supposed to be messed up because of his wife's death, his emotional depth comes across as needy, creepy, and over-the-top. He wants romance to an extreme, complete with every cliche you can imagine, and Lisa wants none of it. He pushes; she runs. They are yin and yang. They are night and day. They are barf and a barfbag.

So why did I watch the final scene three times? Him.

To quote Mia Wallace, "I said goddamn!"

I'd do a reality check for myself regarding Slater's track record -- you know, the cocaine, the domestic abuse, the cop car chases, the current paunch and receding hairline, and the gun-on-a-plane paranoia thing -- but today's not looking so hot. Ilsa's sick, again, the time change has totally messed with our schedules, and a mound of laundry that greatly resembles Mount Hood awaits me. I choose to live in fantasy, thank you very much, but in a fantasy that has at least a teeny, tiny bit of plausibility and heart.

5 comments:

Jess said...

Ya know... I have this almost overwhelming urge to watch "Heathers" for some reason...

Ann(ie) said...

Bleh. You will find very few gems of romantic comedy in Slater's past. I think maybe True Romance was the best thing he ever did. LOVE that movie.

Pacze Moj said...

Very Bad Things is almost a romantic comedy...

Jennifer R said...

Pump Up The Volume has an almost-romance, and shirtless scene!

carrie_lofty said...

I know! It's great. My review here.