Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Sugarland Express. C+


The problem with The Sugarland Express is that the two rebels at the center of the story aren't likable. They're not good people, but they're made to be the heroes of the story. In movies we tend to root for people even if they're moral lives are unstable. We cheer for them because they're the main characters and because, well, they're charismatic and really not that terrible at the heart. Take Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for example. In The Sugarland Express, the main characters are a husband and a wife. The movie begins with the wife rescuing her husband for prison (wow, that was easy). They're on their way to Sugarland to take custody of their child, who was taken from them and is now living with the wife's mother. So how do they get there? They take a cop hostage, humiliate him, and make him drive them there. They become celebrities and people flock their car as they go through towns as if they're movie stars. All the while a long trail of police cars are following them. It sounds like a fun story right? Well, the problem is that the man and the wife are both irritating. I wasn't rooting for either of them as they made their trek to Sugarland. This is a true story and I presume the movie accurately portrays the events. It was made in 1974 and is probably most known as Steven Spielberg's directorial debut. Not bad for a rookie. Spielberg can be applauded for tackling a true story and making it interesting enough. And that the movie doesn't succeed isn't really his fault. It's the fault of those two main characters. We have to be able to like them and care about them if we're going to invest our time in their story. Unfortunately, we're glad when they meet their decisive and bitter fate.

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