Sunday, October 22, 2006

Watching a movie with my parents

I went home this weekend, and my parents and I spent Friday evening watching a movie called "The Sentinal," where Michael Douglas and Kiefer Southerland play secret service agents and Kim Basinger plays the first lady. Did you not see "The Sentinal"? Because it looked pretty mediocre? Yeah, I didn't either, but it was actually pretty enjoyable throughout, even though I had the bad guy pegged an hour before his true sinister nature was revealed. I am a true student of the cinema.

More amusing than the movie, however, was listening to my parents' commentary. They are the people who ask questions throughout the entire movie and never bother learning the characters' names. "Why is Michael Douglas running away from Kiefer Sutherland?" "So wait, is Kim Basinger still having an affair with Michael Douglas, or did they break up?" "Kiefer Sutherland will get the bad guy; after all, he's '24.'" Et cetera, through the entire movie. Although it does make you wonder about the whole stupid conceit of naming characters in genre movies where the actors' fame and reputation is vastly more powerful than the wooden stereotypes they're running around pretending to be.

I think they should make movies where the characters have the same name as the actors. To me, it is much more hard to believe that Kim Basinger is pretending to be someone named "Helen Naughahyde," or whatever, and she is the first lady of the United States, than to simply go into a movie and accept the fact that Kim Basinger is the first lady of the United States. That is a fact I could handle, and a country in which I could live. It could actually be fun to make movies this way, to subvert people's public personas (personae?) so that you have a movie where Tom Hanks turns out to have a meth lab in the back yard and America's Sweetheart Meg Ryan is actually battling a persistent case of Hepatitis-C. This would be much better than dealing with the stupid names movie characters have.

....One more thing that happened this weekend. We were sitting around debating the constant family issue of whether I need new clothes, and trying to end the discussion, I said they could just buy me new jeans for Christmas. My parents looked at each other, then said: "Well, when we got married Grandma and Pap Pap started to just give us a check for Christmas. We won't really do the whole pile of presents anymore, since you're married and all grown up. Also, you have to buy a gift for Grandma and Pap Pap yourself now. We won't sign your name on the card anymore."

What?! If someone had told me that getting married would be the death knell of Christmas, I would have reconsidered. If only I had known! I think back to last Christmas when I blindly and stupidly enjoyed the familiar pile of gifts and loot. This year, I'll run downstairs to find... an envelope. With a check in it. That I have to share. That is not the Christmas ideal I know and honor.

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