The Woman In Black...Or Why $9 is crazy expensive for a movie...
So, I just got back from seeing The Woman In Black, the 56th installment in the Harry Potter series, chronicling Daniel Radcliffe's sad demise into a second-rate lawyer whose lack of comprehensive healthcare coverage through his employer resulted in the preventable death of his wife during childbirth. The resulting child is portly and a disappointing artist whose lazy attempt at a "picture-a-day" book for his poor, downtrodden father ends at Monday. Considering that a week's worth of drawings were condensed into two days, you'd expect each to be masterpieces but, alas, they were just stick figures standing in front of a parallelogram of a one-story shack. As I watched, it saddened me to think of how far Daniel had fallen and how he'd torn through his Potter fortune so quickly with what must have been extravagant and foolish purchases -- if he'd just invested in at least a basic insurance plan, none of this would have happened and an entire town of pale, dirty children in sad period dresses might have been saved. But I guess it's ALWAYS about Harry isn't it? I'll save Hermione! I'll kill Voldemort! I'll score the winning goal at Quidditch! Douche.
Actually it had nothing to do with Harry Potter, and little to do with good story telling either. Although it did generate a number of questions and conversations starters, such as 1) "How do Raisinettes tastes when mixed with popcorn?", 2) "How many sour patch kids can one adult human consume in 90 minutes?" and "How stupid are the younger generation?"Answers? 1) Unusually delicious. 2) 5.3 pounds. 3) Frighteningly so. Apparently they would scream in fright if someone double dipped a tortilla chip into salsa - they're THAT skittish - and then clap in exultation when they realized that no one else was sharing the salsa so all was OK in the end.
OK - so the premise is not new...Daniel arrives in an impossibly grey town to discover children locked in their bedrooms, malnourished and peering pleadingly through dirty glass as he walks down the main street. And, as in these types of movies, his appearance marks the beginning of a gruesome death spree and the uncovering of a secret legacy of years of child deaths at the hand of a vengeful spirit. It's kind of like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with more blood and less candy. And in both movies you wonder why everyone didn't just pack up their horse and buggies with their cruise wear and DVD collections and just move. Maybe they were afraid of losing their benefits plans, or were upside down on their mortgages - who knows? All I can say is that I would be in the south of France, or even Boca Raton, in a second. Somewhere less grey with fewer helpless children - and maybe a Segway or golf cart or two. Anyway...that's just me, and who am I but a sane person with an apparent fascination with the geriatric?
So all the townspeople hate him as soon as his vacant stare lands into town and I was a little surprised that it wasn't because he was more handsome than all the men-folk in the village. That's the way I would have written it, with all the sex-starved wives in town taking their yearly baths early and wearing no underwear under their crinolines in order to flash their lady parts at him at the general store while bending over to lift a 25 pound bag of flour. But no, it was the children again. Damn stupid, helpless kids - always ruining a good plot.
Unfortunately the story the writers came up with was this sappy tale of a mother whose sister and brother-in-law adopted her son away from her for the ridiculous reason that she was mentally unstable, then made her watch from a window as her child played dodge ball in the marshes, being careful not to knock over the family tombstones when slinging the ball at one of his imaginary friends, whom I imagine was wearing grey knickers and had blood dripping from one eye socket. Typical Norman Rockwell Americana...so trite and so overdone. Then the birth mother, wearing a black dress because she was a dramatic whore, hangs herself while trying to string laundry from the ceiling while standing on a rocking chair. If I told her once, I told her a thousand times that it was dangerous to do so, and that there was a really expensive Electrolux dryer just down the hall, but she never listened. So she died and no one noticed for weeks until they were heading out to another child's funeral and realized that the blouse they had loaned her was missing. So, she did what anyone in her situation would do - she came back from the dead and haunted the shit out of that town.
In the end, Harry Potter won - I mean, if he didn't, what would we have done without episode 57 of his eternal drama? And the lady in black just kept laughing, probably thinking of how she would do it all over again and how ridiculous it was for her to be standing on a rocking chair to hang laundry - I mean, a rocking chair? I'm laughing myself.
For a comedy it was pretty dramatic. And for that, I give it 3 thumbs up.