So with all of the new Oscar buzz surrounding the ever so hyped Avatar, Danny and I FINALLY went to see it. Yup, we finally penciled in a (too long for my taste) three hour block of time in which we could sit in a freezing theater and witness the strange, and somewhat erotic, connecting microfibers that we'd heard so much about. And, per usual, on the way home from the movie we discussed it from beginning to end. The discussion started out as a casual conversation, one that we we both seemed to enjoy, until the overly critical novelist in me reared her ugly head. And so I began my (now common) post-movie rant...
I came away from the movie feeling like, although it was an amazing work of art, I just wasn't invested in any of the characters. And on top of that, I just didn't feel any real emotional bonds between the characters in the movie either. I just didn't buy the relationship between Sully and Neytiri. Prior to them mating and becoming "life-long partners" in the whimsical weeping willow-esque sacred forest, they had only glanced at each other playfully one or two times. And because there wasn't much flirtation or insinuation of physical attraction, they really just seemed to have a platonic relationship. Of course, early on I could see the Pocahontas parallels and could pretty much deduce what would happen between them, but there was no sexual tension, no deep conversation. I would've liked to witness a tender moment or two so that I could actually feel the love by the time they were eternally bonded. It just didn't ring true (well as true as it could ring for being sort of science fictiony). And I've also never not cried when a dad has died in any movie I've ever watched in my entire life. My eyes didn't so much as water when Neytiri's dad died, and I frankly didn't like that one bit! Maybe if we had seen him interacting with his people or Neytiri's mom, or even Neytiri for that matter, in a loving or paternal way (even once) the scene would have struck an emotional chord with me. And was it just me, or did anyone else want to know more about Sully? He was a complete stranger to me throughout the entire movie.
Mid-rant Danny interrupts me to irritatedly note that he couldn't remember the last time I'd expressed a SINGLE good review about any movie we've seen. I looked at him somewhat blankly and then took a second to think about what he'd just said. Was he right? Had hours upon hours of character development, plot sequencing and dialogue compression have completely turned me into the debbie-downer of movie goers? I knew that after most movies, I'd voice my wishes to have had things like more background information, or more relatable relationships, but was I being overly critical? I suddenly flashed back to hearing myself say, "That character wouldn't say that!" or "That scene was such a filler. Where was the conflict?!" (in the theater). I cringed a little bit. Hmmm...I cringed a little more when I thought about how I often get quite angry (borderline hostile) when endings left me yearning for more information, not in a cliffhanger way, but in an unfinished kind of way. He was right. While becoming a writer, I'd somehow also become the thumbless Ebert. I'd become the Rush Limbaugh of film critics. I'd become...a nag.
After reflecting on the overly critical (and most likely annoying) movie watcher that I'd become, I suddenly began to miss the good old days. In the past, when Danny would ask me what I thought about a movie we just saw I'd usually just bring up a scene in it that proved a point that I'd tried to make at some point in our seven year relationship. Devilishly (but jauntily) capitalize on a sort of "See! I told you so" moment if you will. Or sometimes I'd just cheerfully remind him how much I liked the grey sweater that that one girl in the movie wore when they went to dinner (and where I saw it on sale in my size). Sometimes that sweater would even magically appear upon my nightstand a couple days later! (Well, once that sweater magically appeared upon my nightstand, but my antics were good for a chuckle at the very least!) Yup, those were the days.
The squinted frown on Danny's face during the car ride home said it all. I was pretty sure that my ranting had somewhat ruined the movie for him. His random defensive rebuttals about different scenes he "by the way, really LIKED," throughout the remainder of the evening solidified my assumption. My rampant negativity surely took the "date" out of "date night," and I couldn't help but feel a little bad.
After laying my head on his shoulder and getting a minimal response, I decided to try and redeem myself by reminding him how brilliant I thought Juno was (how ever many years ago that we saw it in theaters). I asked him to recall how I raved about it for days after we saw it and how many times I told him how amazingly phenomenal and authentic it was. Juno had hit on every emotion I had. I cried, I laughed, I scrunched my nose. When we got home from watching it I pranced around the house playing a fake banjo and repetitively sung (in an undoubtedly high pitched country accent) "If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee!" One of the best songs ever by the way. After desperately searching for validation, I sang it to remind him exactly how it went. He smiled.
I put my head back on his shoulder and told him that I'd work on being a little more positive after the next movie we watched. He nodded and rested his head on mine. I shrugged and sighed. "Yup, I'll work on it...but I just might have a long road ahead of me." I relented. He asked me why I thought so and I obliviously responded, "Well, I just can't understand why we wouldn't have at least seen a glimpse of Sully's relationship with his brother! You know? I mean seriously! Were they buddies? Did they get beers together after work? Was Sully ever jealous that he had more success in the military? A flashback or two would have really helped me understand..." I stopped when I felt him looking at me somewhat sideways and then giggled embarassedly. I shrugged and flashed him my "Woops" smile. He smiled back, gave me his "you're hopeless but cute nonetheless" look and then kissed me goodnight.
So, anyone else think that the movie was a little lacking in the interpersonal relationship department??? KIDDING!!!!...sort of.