Thursday, June 5, 2014
The Big Chill. C
I hated the juxtaposition of making the viewer feel good, or pleasant (outdoor football game where everyone's having fun, or dancing in the kitchen to "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" because viewers will fall in love with that scene), with "serious" dramatic scenes that never go anywhere, I hated the ultra-short running shorts that Kevin Kline seems to be wearing for at least half his screen time, I hated the constant flow of pop songs that come on for no apparent reason but to get the audience grooving (with the exception of "The Weight," which is nicely used in a scene to show how the characters arrive in the kitchen for breakfast at different times), and I pretty much hated the overall message that love trumps morality, not so much in and of itself (though it is a pretty sappy and problematic conclusion) but because the movie needed it for closure, to make everyone happy by the end. I get it though. This is, to apply a phrase once used by Michael Phillips, a sweater movie. It's cozy and snug and feels good. There's a nice house where a bunch of likable actors (Glenn Close, Kline, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, etc...) are convening, there's plenty of chit-chat and jokes, and plenty of food, but also that perfect touch of sentimentality, making it all akin to a perfectly cooked meal. Director Lawrence Kasdan knows exactly how to manufacture this for maximum satisfaction. It's a zeitgeist movie, here meaning that it relies heavily on its era (look, feel, mentality) because certain viewers will recognize this and find value in it. The zeitgeist here is 80s America when Generation Now kids are suddenly working class adults, so close to the glory days of college in the 70s, but yet so far from it, so troubled by the fact that time isn't slowing down, that there's too much yearning and not enough fulfillment. The Big Chill sets out to solve these characters' problems and maybe even solve the viewers' own ones, too. And if not, it'll at least make them feel good.