The purpose of some films is to make the audience think; to provide discussion topics. They lay out rules, set up pressures and obstacles then examine the reactions of their ridiculously verbose characters. Success might be measured by the time the audience spends discussing the problems posed. It might also result in a violent argument with dear friends!
Peggapalooza! continues with a question that everybody has asked at one time or another: what is happiness? Hector (Simon Pegg [IMDB]) is a stable, dependable psychiatrist. He’s in a stable, dependable relationship with Clara (Rosamund Pike [IMDB]), a stable, dependable marketing consultant. His life is stable and dependable. Warm. Comfortable. Pleasant.
It’s impossible to discuss Simon Pegg without mentioning The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (it’s already been mentioned several times during Peggapalooza). The films are directed by Edgar Wright [IMDB], written by Wright and Simon Pegg [IMDB] and star Pegg and Nick Frost [IMDB].
Cornetto’s, for those unaware, are a popular prepackaged ice-cream treat popular in the United Kingdom. Each of the films in the trilogy features a distinct, thematically appropriate, flavor.
Similar to 2011’s excellent “The Lie” [My Review], this explores how the pressures of life can sometimes force good people to make poor choices and, ultimately, how they deal with the consequences. Here, snarky, unpopular high-schooler Norman (Dan Byrd [IMDB]), has recently dealt with the death of his mother and is now watching his father (Richard Jenkins [IMDB]) succumb painfully to stomach cancer. When berated by a schoolmate about his recent flakiness, he blurts out that he has cancer.
[This is the 600th movie review that I’ve posted. Hooray for arbitrary large, round numbers!]
This is a sequel to the 2013 blockbuster “Olympus has Fallen” [My Review]. That review summarized the movie as, “Action fans will find a lot to like but unfortunately it lacks the soul to make it truly great.” This entry in the increasingly unlikely series could be summed up in much the same way.
This is said to be a sequel, of sorts, to 2008’s big budget found-footage, love-it-or-hate-it epic Cloverfield [IMDB]. If so, the connection is, to be generous, tenuous. The films are vastly different in tone, style and pacing and lack any obvious overlap. They are similar thematically, however. Both focus on small, personal stories occurring on the periphery of enormous, world-altering events.
Remember the pain of the last time you were dumped? That feeling of betrayal and loss? How you’d mope around the house until the police came to take you to The Hotel where, if you didn’t find a suitable mate in 45 days, you’d be turned into the animal of your choice and let loose in the woods?
Motels are creepy. Alfred Hitchcock knew that in 1960 when he set his classic thriller Psycho [IMDB] in one. By their very nature they’re nowhere. After all, if you were somewhere, there would be a hotel, right? Motels are where people end up when they can’t get where they’re going. Motels are awkward, uncomfortable, and far from people or the hope of help.
At first blush (perhaps second and third, as well) this is a movie trying too hard. It’s a quirky indie comedy/drama that runs, intentionally or not, slavishly through the quirky indie comedy/drama playbook. The question is, does it have anything worthwhile to say?