Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Limit Reached: Let's Be Somewhere Else

At last I took the time to watch Being There after what feels like three lifetimes worth of people telling me I "have to see" Being There. Being There was quite good -- not believable in the least, mind you, but well-acted and charming in its way. If I am not breaking all traffic laws to get to the store to purchase a collector's edition DVD, I am also not writing letters to demand that its various Oscars and other awards be rescinded.

That said, I have had enough of the conceit in which a childlike adult dispenses innocent truths that come to be received, by other characters if not the film's audience, as timeless wisdom. It's been done, re-done, re-done over again -- just off the top of my head, in addition to Being There, there's Forrest Gump, Nell, I am Sam, Rain Man, Sling-Blade, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It exists in franchise self-help book format, naturally enough; beyond this, it may well have a long and distinguished literary pedigree, one that I am not inclined to trace beyond mentioning the ever-adorable Lennie from Of Mice and Men.

"Out of the mouths of babes" -- I get it. Really I do -- we all do. There's a kernel of truth to it. Can we please move the hell on, at least for purposes of feature films? I mean, there must be dozens of unreadable comic books that haven't been turned into films yet, and these retard biopics are displacing them.

Now here's what I would pay to see: a film in which a childlike adult dispenses simple half-truths, is mistaken for a sage, and it leads to utter calamity for all concerned. I can think of copious real-world antecedents for that; no need to plumb the literature.

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