People (Have) Suck(ed)

July 29th, 2006  |  Published in etc

The difference between “people do this” and “this is something people have done” was key to my response to “The Shape of Things.”

I walked away from it thinking that its generic setting, tiny cast and mannered dialogue meant it was trying to say the former, a message that will appeal to a certain sort who’s either a.) been hard done by or b.) spends a lot of time trying to rationalize past cruelties. Or I guess, spends an equal amount of time in a self-congratulatory stupor for “being willing” to face up to “reality.” Or others … I’ll admit. Plenty of nice people probably had positive reactions that weren’t based on displays of conspicuous public jadedness.

I guess, to the extent the movie made me wonder what it was saying to whom, and to the extent that, like past Labute movies, it made me ask myself what kind of person I am, it succeeded. To the extent, though, that those dialogues took place less with the characters and their actions and more with my guesses at what the mind that created their little world was thinking I was supposed to think, maybe it didn’t succeed so much.

And I’m going to publicly own up to a certain amount of stupidity: I saw “Neil Labute” in the credits and didn’t stop to think what, exactly, that was going to mean for the next 90 minutes. Coz, you know, “Nurse Betty.”

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