Way back in the year 1994, when I was in graduate school, a friend and I went to see a new release opening weekend. We were both very poor at the time and I rarely remember going to a movie that wasn’t at the dollar theater (which had .49 cent movies on Tuesday!).
We were sucked in by our love of one of the comic masters of the time, David Letterman. In the 80’s, Late Night with David Letterman was one of the funniest, most creative things on TV. It wasn’t just a talk show, it was a comedy hour.
A recurring character on that show was Chris Elliot, one of his writers. About every 6 weeks or so, Chris would come on screen, playing a depressed, morose everyman. These bits were always good for a few laughs.
The early 90’s were a time when every SNL skit that garnered even a decent response was being turned into a full length comedy. This was at least partially spurred by the success of Wayne’s World.
Perhaps, wanting to get into the act, some foolish studio handed a pile of cash to Chris Elliot and told him he could write and star in his own piece. As I said previously, my friend and I were both fans of Letterman and even the short pieces that Chris Elliot was a part of.
The result, was a film atrocity that is an example of what can sometimes happen when a creative talent is given too much leeway, Cabin Boy. My friend and I agreed never to speak of it again. Strangely, that was the end of our friendship. We might have seen each other in groups from time to time, but we never sought out each other’s company after that. Too many scars.
The latest Marvel entry, Thor: Love and Thunder, reminds me of this story is several ways.
First, I paid full price to endure an atrocious film. I was warned, but after enjoying Thor: Ragnorak so thoroughly, I really couldn’t believe that Taika Waititi could let us down to the degree that the reviews were reporting. I was wrong, the reviews were right, including the many 1 star reviews on IMDB.
Secondly, the film is a quirky blend of genres and styles, with a poorly written script that almost makes you feel bad for the actors having to perform the lines. The dialogue in the short mini-play performed by Matt Damon and friends is not really any worse than what is in the general feature.
Third, and perhaps most significantly, this seems like an example of a hot talent being given enough rope to hang themselves with. Unfortunately, whereas Cabin Boy was a blip on the radar that disappeared quickly into cinema history, the Thor franchise and Marvel overall have the biggest budgets, the highest paid stars and the most aggressive marketing.
This means that many, many people will see this movie. Let’s hope that Marvel Studios doesn’t take this as a blessing for more of the same. So, what’s wrong with the movie, let me list a few of the things that I picked up:
The writing is abysmal. The lines don’t land and many of them could be found if you looked up a definition for cringe-worthy in your dictionary. I felt bad to see accomplished actors like Natalie Portman and Russell Crowe having to serve up this banal nonsense.
There is no coherent thread that holds it together. They try to come full circle with the opening and closing scenes, but much of what happens in between doesn’t feel like it is a part of the same movie. One reviewer said it was like watching 2 hours of bad SNL sketches. That is a fitting statement. One scene doesn’t connect to the next any better than most do in an hour of SNL.
The goats. What should have been left on the cutting room floor, or limited to a few seconds of screen time is instead an ongoing painful thorn in the side of all of us that endured until the end.
The humor. Marvel movies have been known for their humor from the time of the Avengers forward. The Guardians of the Galaxy films and Thor: Ragnorak stepped up the humor to the next level. This film lowers the bar to a level that makes it seem like a parody of a parody. If you cringe just thinking about the humor found in movies like Scary Movie, you won’t enjoy what is found here. Most of the funniest moments were in the trailers and clips released. I loved Ragnorak and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of our family’s favorite films. None of the comedy magic of those films is found here.
The horror scene with the kids. Much like the recent Dr. Strange movie, this film adds some horror elements. These are slapped right in the middle of some of the goofy, light-hearted bits. It just seems odd. The worst is the first scene when Christian Bale’s bad guy character is alone with kids that are kidnapped from Asgard. It doesn’t work and seems like it is pulled from a low budget Tales from the Crypt remake.
The gay/trans agenda. Something that Disney has received some criticism for in recent days is the attempt to push gay/trans/non-binary storylines and characters on their audiences whenever possible. This is something executives have admitted to. That is found in this film as well, with several plotlines that even break previously established Marvel film mythology.
So, my advice is to walk away from this train wreck of a film. It is not worth your time or money. Sometimes, too much of a good thing (money, popularity, off screen and on screen talent) can turn out something that should be forgotten. I didn’t listen to the bad reviews and regret it. Don’t be like me. Heed this review and all the others. Go see Top Gun again or just stay home and re-watch Ragnorak.