Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Apprentice Writer is fascinated by the phenomenon of identical twin movies.  You know, the ones thAT seem to share the same DNA in terms of logline yet seem worlds apart in execution.  Examples previously reviewed in this space were the drudging No Strings Attached vs. the unexpectedly entertaining Friends With Benefits.

Today's Installments:  In one corner, The Change Up.  In the other Crazy Stupid Love.

Both involve a devoted husband/father figure suddenly plucked out of his regular role (one by body-switching magic, the other by spouse who chooses to separate) and plunged into the role of free-to-look-at-other-women bachelor (one by landing inside the form of single best friend, the other by being taken under the wing of mega ladies man).  It is no doubt clear to the Gentle Reader which one Apprentice Writer liked and which one she loathed.

The problem was not casting, given that she likes all four male leads.  She has no clue whether Jason Bateman or Steve Carell actually are dads in real life, but she completely accepted them in those roles.  She is also very fond of Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, and no, it's not just because they are fellow Canucks.  It's because she thought RR did a great job in The Proposal and RG did a great job in any movie she's ever seen him in.

The problem also wasn't premise, because she is willing in the case of books and movies to accept story-based paranormal phenomena (although, it must be said, the method by which the body change occurs is stultifyingly juvenile and if AW had taken this as an indication of the quality of the film as a whole and stopped watching at that point she would have saved herself time and grief).

The problem was lack of good story, lack of good dialogue, lack of charm, and most importantly, lack of any sort of likability of any of the characters - all of which CSL had in abundance.  Apprentice Writer predicts that the scene between Emma Stone's character Hannah and Ryan Gosling's character Jacob (if you've seen the movie - you know the one) will become as iconic as Meg Ryan's in When Harry Met Sally.

The only part of TCU which AW liked was the following instruction from bachelor character to dad character about to embark on the singles scene and trying to make himself look good:  "This is called hair product.  Too little and you look like a pedophile.  Too much and you look Persian."  This made AW howl, because she is married to a Persian man. Though he is innocent of gel excess, she has been to many a party where other Persian men were guilty.  This cracked her up, not just because it was true, but at the indication that the Persian community (at least, in Los Angeles) is so sizeable and certain habits so well-known that Hollywood believes the joke will have meaning for mainstream audiences.

The only part of CSL that AW didn't like was the speech ending scene (just like she didn't like speech ending in Scent of a Woman), because of the sermonizing speech, because there was absolutely no reason for the babysitter and her parents to be at that graduation, and because of the squick factor of how things ended between the son and the sitter.  But she loved that things did not end in black and white for the married couple, and that the bachelor character didn't try to justify himself to the dad or go overboard in trying to be convincing about character change.  It made sense for his character, and it was good for the movie. It is, perhaps, significant that even Mr. Apprentice Writer recently quoted the movie during a mutual shopping trip when he urged AW to "...Be better than the Gap!" which made her laugh.

Altogether, AW is left with the certainty she will watch CSL repeatedly, and with the question:  which movie developed the concept first, and which one piggybacked? Was the original conceiver rewarded with the superior film, or did the hijacker actually do a better job with the pirated premise?


Rachel said...

I always wonder these things, too: "which movie developed the concept first, and which one piggybacked? Was the original conceiver rewarded with the superior film, or did the hijacker actually do a better job with the pirated premise?"

Where can we can these answers? I want them for all of the movie pairs.

So this isn't exactly a same year pair but doesn't Magic Mike look just like Coyote Ugly?

M. said...

I don't know because I haven't seen MM. I didn't like CU and am no Channing Tatum fan. I guess I'd have to decide if I'm curious enough to see if they compare to watch MM. I read somewhere (Twitter? Dear Author?) someone wondering "out loud" whether a female actor talking about her stripping past would result in the kind of positive response that Tatum seems to be getting, and I thought it was a good question.

Rachel said...

I haven't seen MM either; I'm just going by the commercial. I didn't like CU either but if you watch the trailers for both these movies on youtube they are eerily similar. (What is with the Channing Tatum thing? Ugh)

That is a good question. Another question I would be interested in is not just the response but what type of roles would be available to a woman with that background? I'm guessing not of the same variety as has been available to Tatum.

btw, were my comments at all helpful on your manuscript? did i "pass the test" well enough to get rewarded with Chunk 2?

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