Part 1 in the Diary of a Movie Obsession

There’s often little pattern to what I will see in a movie theater. I’ll go to movies because I’ve read decent reviews, because I’ve enjoyed past work of the actors/director/writer, because the story sounds fascinating (though weirdly, I think that’s usually not the biggest draw for me: Though 21 Grams sounded really interesting to me, I never made it down to see it), or simply because the movie fills some need that I have at that moment (sometimes, you just need to see a popcorn movie, etc.). The problem is that seeing a movie (when I enjoy it) often starts off a chain reaction for me, where I want to see other movies similar to the one just seen. There are many instances of this in my past: the 1998 Summer of Mel Gibson, for instance (started by Lethal Weapon 4, sigh), or the repeated viewing/reading/viewing of the LOTR trilogy and movies made by members of the cast last spring/fall.

Most often, I’ll see a movie in the theater and then be led into renting movies where the actor/actress (usually actor, come to think of it) has appeared before. This isn’t uncommon; we used to return movies to the “new release/best renter” (i.e., more expensive) wall at work when their stars were appearing at the box office. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Some actors tend to make movies of fairly consistent quality across the board – Tobey Maguire, for instance, has made mostly very good movies in which he has done very well. Elijah Wood, on the other hand, has had some definite lows. Hugh Grant is somewhere in the middle. And on and on.

I’m in a new swing of renting, and this time, I’m going to document my descent into madness.

In the last week (since Friday, March 5) I have rented/seen the following movies: Starsky & Hutch, Zoolander, The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, Shanghai Noon, and I Spy. Going to see Starsky and Hutch Friday was the catalyst, and I can’t pinpoint why I did that… I think perhaps the previews really sold me on it. Prior to seeing S&H, my general opinion of those involved would have been as follows: Ben Stiller, OK in small doses; Owen Wilson, haven’t really seen him in anything but haven’t really wanted to, either; Todd Phillips (the director) did Road Trip, which was amusing, and Old School, which I mean to catch on cable some day. The movie did have somewhat complementary reviews from the papers I picked up at school, though… and I wanted something funny and local. So, there I went, off to see S&H.

Shortly after seeing it, I thought, wow, that was a good time, and then wow, where has Owen Wilson been? I don’t think I actually thought much past that until I saw VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” which featured Starsky & Hutch and talked about how Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller had done a million other movies (five) together. So then, curious, I checked it all out on… and then, with a weekend to kill, I found myself at Blockbuster. Enter The Royal Tenenbaums and Zoolander, both of which I must now admit to reeeeallly enjoying. I liked Tenenbaums best, mostly because I still can’t quite wholly enjoy watching Ben Stiller being Ben Stiller (with a funny voice) for a whole movie. So, Tenenbaums leads to “Wait, Owen Wilson wrote this? Who’s this guy he wrote it with?” which, of course, led to Bottle Rocket (also recommended by ). So, return to Blockbuster #1 in town, where I dropped off Zoolander (hung on to Tenenbaums) and found only an empty video shell where Bottle Rocket should have been. OK, mission not accomplished; I decided to try again later.

Went home. Watched special features from The Royal Tenenbaums, which were mostly not spectacular — though the cast interviews were briefly interesting, particularly Bill Murray and Angelica Houston. Looked up Wes Anderson (co-writer and director of Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket), Owen Wilson, etc. Put Rushmore on the list of movies to see pronto. Returned to Blockbuster #1 and gave back The Royal Tenenbaums. Then, of course, I found that now, not only was Bottle Rocket still gone, Rushmore was checked out. Now, my next decision was influenced somewhat by the proximity of Blockbuster #2 to a Dillons grocery store that has a Starbucks inside of it. The Dillons also has a video rental section, but they didn’t have Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, or really anything that hasn’t released in the last six months and starred either Adam Sandler or Tom Cruise. So they had nothing but Chai tea to contribute to my evening.

Blockbuster #2 did not have Bottle Rocket at all and Rushmore had been checked out. At this point, I said something to the effect of “fuck it!” and rented Shanghai Noon, which was the closest movie with Owen Wilson on the cover. Ooo, look at the madness creeping in.

It gets worse.

I watched Shanghai Noon and listened to about 15 minutes of commentary by the director and actors — enough to hear the director say “Yeah, I don’t really know what was going on with that story or this part or whatever” a couple of times, which made me feel a little sad and a little dirty. I returned it to Blockbuster #2. Then, I went to the independent movie rental place downtown (conveniently and ironically located directly across the street from Starbucks) and got a membership — which I have been meaning to do for a while — so that I could rent Bottle Rocket from them. On DVD, even, which was more than Blockbuster could offer. SADLY, TRAGICALLY, their copy of Rushmore on DVD is apparently “damaged.” I ended up with I Spy. I watched most of Bottle Rocket during last night’s babysitting session in Kansas City (he slept almost the whole time! I’m a baby god! I’m a baby sleeping pill!), though the family’s arrival cut it short. I did see all of I Spy, and, oh help me, I really laughed. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to watch too many serious spy movies with my dad; maybe I just enjoy movies that are half-mocking their genres; whatever it is, I really liked it. Enough that tonight, while I tapped around not doing homework, I listened to the director’s commentary for the whole thing, in which she and her production crew mostly laugh at themselves for many parts of the movie — presumably because it grossed only about half of what it cost to make, I guess.

Tomorrow I have to return I Spy and Bottle Rocket (which I LOVED) to Liberty Hall. I may, while I’m there, pick up Rushmore… and either Shanghai Knights or Permanent Midnight.

Anyway. When does The Big Bounce come out on DVD?

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11 Responses to Part 1 in the Diary of a Movie Obsession

  1. therealjae says:

    *waving a sheepish hand* I do this, too. It led to renting “Mystic Pizza” for the four-minute scene with Matt Damon in it, for example. 😉


  2. phillyexpat says:

    I loved The Royal Tennenbaums-one of my all time faves. I hope you get to rent Rushmore soon-it’s a good one. Big Bounce may be out as soon as this summer . . .

  3. phillyexpat says:

    I loved The Royal Tennenbaums-one of my all time faves. I hope you get to rent Rushmore soon-it’s a good one. Big Bounce may be out as soon as this summer . . .

  4. kepkanation says:

    Ah, yay! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s good to know I’m not crazy by myself, at least. 😉 And how was Mystic Pizza, anyway?

  5. kepkanation says:

    I really loved The Royal Tenenbaums, too, and I’m glad to hear that someone else did! It seems to be a movie that’s either loved or hated. I not only love it, I just bought it (used).

  6. therealjae says:

    You know, it was actually worth watching. Which is a good thing, because Matt Damon really was onscreen for all of about two minutes. 🙂


  7. kepkanation says:

    I’m guesing I know what your favorite Matt Damon movie is; what makes #2 on the list?

  8. simplelyric says:

    Most often, I’ll see a movie in the theater and then be led into renting movies where the actor/actress (usually actor, come to think of it) has appeared before.

    I don’t doubt that you’re already familiar with how frequently I fall into this trap, myself. *g*

  9. therealjae says:

    Well, nothing else compares, but I really liked “Dogma,” “Rounders,” and “Good Will Hunting,” all for very different reasons.


  10. kepkanation says:

    Mm, I love Dogma for many reasons, not the least of which is Alanis Morrissette playing God. Good Will Hunting was fabulous – I love the baseball game story (“I gotta see about a girl”) and have always wondered if Aaron Sorkin ripped it off a little for a particular scene in “Sports Night.” Why haven’t Damon & Affleck written another script? My descent into madness is following one writer-actor, so I have to start wondering about the others.

    Still haven’t seen Rounders!

  11. kepkanation says:

    I don’t doubt that you’re already familiar with how frequently I fall into this trap, myself. *g*

    It’s such a fun trap, though! And it’s nice to know I have good company.

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