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Wish I Had Closed My Eyes. Wished I Had Fallen Asleep. I Saw it Babe, and I Didn’t Miss a Thing. September 16, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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Mashups are huge right now. And I’m not talking pre-Jenny Craig Kirstie Alley huge. I’m talking the Macarena-before-we-realized-it-made us-all-look-retarded huge. Everybody who is anybody is doing mashups. Mostly, it is the byproduct of people who are clever, stoned and bored (Meaning it will never be tried by a member of Congress because they’re never clever). It is almost criminal in it’s simplicity. Take two unrelated things and combine them. But try to include some sort of pithy or relevant pun. Like taking G.W. Bush’s 9/11 speech and setting it to Prodigy’s “Firestarter.” (Burning Bush…get it?) Or disguising a political statement in a movie about zombies (Romero’s “Land of the Dead,” with Dennis Hopper as the best presidential clone since Will Ferrell’s “I shall name him Superdude”.)

And it is that vein that I begin my rant today. We, as an entertainment starved public, had our first mashup way back in 1998 without even noticing it. We immediately dismissed it as just another “loud explosions, cheesy throwaway line” type of movie. But, over time and repeated watchings (usually on Starz!- the ugly ex-girlfriend of networks, meaning nobody how bad you were, it will give you a second chance) I have begun to realize that Michael Bay’s Armageddon was a mashup of epic proportions. Yup, while we were distracted by explosions and Ben Affleck’s almost criminal mugs to the camera, we were witness to the first male “chick flick” movie.

Let me begin by saying that I HATE Michael Bay. And it’s not a tiny hate, but a festering melanoma of disdain that grows with every day. This is just more to me than the guy who robbed me of ten dollars and made me suffer an ass cyst while watching Bad Boys II (which I watched hoping to be entertained, but instead got a two and a half hour practice session for Will Smith’s eventual Oscar nomination). No, my hate goes out to the fact that somebody is profiting off the fact that he knows men will watch things blow up, regardless if the physics behind them is unbelievable to a three year old with knowledge learned from a Highlights magazine. He has bastardized a genre that I once held dear and turned into nothing more than a chance for broke “actor’s actors” to collect the paycheck that enables them to do stage plays they wished they’d been cast in in college.

With that said, I applaud him for Armageddon. Not because he stretched himself on some sort of limb, but because of the wool he pulled over on all the men treating their popcorn like an underpaid whore. We saw Bruce Willis and assumed we’d get an action flick packed tighter than Anna Nicole’s brassiere. And we did, but Master Bay also baptized us into the chick flick pantheon. And we bought it hook, line and stinker.

The “chick flick” itself has a few standard stereotypes that seem to dominate the genre. You can have a) the doomed relationship between two diametric opposites, b)the almost insurmountable odds the main characters have to overcome, c)the awkward, almost forced, humor that arises from said situations, d) the perfectly created scenario that leads to the character’s acceptance of one another and e)the final salvo that is meant to illicit gallons of tears from it’s viewing audience. To complete the package with a sappy, feminine bow, you add a death scene, some tertiary comedic characters and set it all to some sort of musical anthem that boatloads of people identify with (and buy en masse at their local Sam Goody). Sometimes it’s a relationship between stuffy guy and happy-go-lucky girl that gets these criteria placed upon them. Sometimes it’s the long lasting but ultimately doomed childhood friendship. But all in all, each chick flick has some of these rules splattered throughout them. That and Renee Zellweger, Meryl Streep or a Baldwin brother as the “guy you’re not sure is on the level.”

Take those rules, in all their double “X” chromosome bravura, and you have a “chick flick.” Now take those rules and apply them to Armageddon and tell me that you don’t have a “chick flick,” albeit one with a meteor, gratuitous bra covered bosoms and a few cameos by “manly men.” Michael Bay was following the guidelines step by step, yet decided to crush his “chick flick” pill into a few spoonfuls of “blown up real good” jelly. Armageddon hits all the major points- the strange like and dislike Willis/Affleck relationship, the dynamics of Liv Tyler’s heroine (who still never explained to us why she gave up her immortality for Ben…oh, wait, wrong movie), the major “Don’t Miss a Thing” anthem and the tearjerking salvo that results when Will Patton’s kid comes flying around the corner in slo-mo with a Verne Troyer sized NASA rocket (If you didn’t mist up there, check your soul…you may be incapable of any sort of feeling, or possibly Republican)

So, okay, you say, Armageddon’s a guy movie that follows the “chick flick” rules, but so did Jerry Maguire and Swingers and Chasing Amy (though that last film was made so Kevin Smith could shack up with lesbians.) The difference and the sheer fact that makes it a mashup is thus: the premise itself is so decidedly un “chick flick.” No producer, director or guy that runs the catering between trailers could ever assume that a film about mankind’s eminent destruction by a meteor could be pigeonholed into chick flickability. You could never hope to serve up a film about a doomed relationship that ultimately survives against a big ass rock. But Armageddon does. And we didn’t even notice it. We merely saw explosions, big budget casting and puns so bad that Buddy Hackett rose from his grave and chastised them before returning to his coffin and telling a story about Joan Rivers. Armageddon is the first mash-up because it combined two things we’d never thought could go together and it did it so well that we barely noticed. And if science has thought me anything (other than the Periodic table, which I use to write dirty notes…9-92-6-19), it is that the world is always susceptible to viruses in sheep’s clothing. Us guys watch that movie and cheer it’s disregard for taste and property without realizing that we’re cheering for Harry (Affleck) to meet Sally (Tyler or the asteroid, depending on what school of antagonistic thought you belong to.)

So, with all this mashup hysteria, we missed the first shot. Michael Bay made a movie that follows the criteria: two things that would never be together (Explosion laded action films and subtle “vagina cinema”) and mashed them up for our enjoyment. And for this, and this only, I applaud him.

Though if he makes Bad Boys III, I’m kicking his ass. And I won’t miss a thing.

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