Our stroll had brought us back to the train station when Susan Thibodeau uttered the six most absurd words in the English language.
“What’s wrong with Jar Jar Binks?”
I mean, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We were just a couple minutes into our conversation about movies when she highlighted Men in Black – all three parts – and Will Smith as favourites. This wasn’t going to be a high-browed discussion about Sergei Eisenstein’s methods of montage or Riefenstahl’s use of perspective as a propaganda tool.
“Comedies. I like Jackie Chan,” said the executive director of the Bridge Adult Service Centre.
I like Jackie Chan, too. He’s likeable. His Hollywood movies, however, are raw, untreated sewage.
Thibodeau is particular when it comes to violence. Action flicks are good, but serial killers and psychopaths are bad. Movie stars who can’t get their acts together – Lindsay Lohan’s name was mentioned – deserve to be smacked with a stick.
She hated Les Miserables. I detected real venom in her voice.
“Do you hate poor people, or the French?” I asked, hoping to trap her into some kind of ugly confession.
Neither. It was the music she despised. Finally, common ground.
“Musicals are the lowest form of art – bad music married to bad theatre,” I said.
Nope. She likes musicals, but she likes the ones where the actors have dialogue and then break into song.
“Every line in Les Miserables is sung!” she said.
She was dragged to the picture Christmas Day. A tradition with her siblings. She couldn’t even escape the theatre, she said, because her brother sat between her and the aisle. I suggested she could have started hitting him, but she said he would have hit back.
I should have suggested using the Lohan stick. Or enlisting the help of Vin Diesel.
Mr. Diesel – not to be confused with Belinda Propane, Jimmy Gasoline or Fred Ethanol – is Thibodeau’s favourite action star.
My wife likes him, too. And that’s enough about Vin Diesel.
We did agree that we were too set in our ways to want a life-changing experience from watching a movie. Spare me. Entertain me, with jokes or explosions, plot twists or smart writing (not to be confused with smug or contrived). But on the rare occasions I want a profound encounter with art, I don’t seek it in a movie.
That wasn’t always the case. Schindler’s List remains one of my favourite films. But these days, let me choose between 2011’s Tree of Life or 2012’s Dredd, and I’ll choose cartoonish mayhem every time. Will Ferrell gets me to rent a movie, not Daniel Day Lewis.
Star Wars came up. The original trilogy is spectacular, obviously. I think we can all agree Empire Strikes Back was the best of the three, and Boba Fett deserved more screen time. But Thibodeau strayed into madness when she started singing the praises of Phantom, Clones and Sith.
What’s wrong with Jar Jar Binks, Susan? Only the fact he wasn’t devoured by a Rancor three seconds after his first appearance on screen.
Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.