Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste
Last night I saw this film, and man, it was a piece of shit. MAN! Piece. Of. Shit.
Yeah, yeah, so I should've seen it coming. Holiday movie, Cameron Diaz, Nancy Meyers writing and directing...all the puzzle pieces fall into place easily enough to predict that it's going to be a pretty blase clump of bourgeois cliches. But it was a cold and windy night, and I had the evening blessedly to myself, and so I popped into the movie theater for a quickie as I am wont to do when that sort of situation presents itself.
But geez. It was a thousand times more stupid and offensive to intelligent good taste than I ever imagined.
Ok, so first of all, Nancy Meyers is officially a schlockmeister. Her writing is such cliched bourgeois middle-aged woman fantasy crap, from the cheesy-ass Thomas Kincaid cottage in England to the one-dimensional archetypes (the cad! the plain Jane! the old guy who imparts the wisdom while doing cute old man things!) to the utterly whitewashed occupants of her films (hello, post-imperialism Britain: no, they are not all white and Anglo). Critics raved about her Something's Gotta Give from 2003, and so I expected to like that one, too, given that Diane Keaton can be a pretty sexy older-lady badass when she wants to be, and Jack Nicholson's rogue act never fails to charm me. But when I finally did catch it once on a cross-continental flight, I almost ripped the little TV monitor out of the seat in front of me, it was so bad. Embarrassing, cliched, whitewashed, bourgeois, blah. The thing that really riles me about Meyers' stuff is that she so clearly thinks she's saying Big Profound Things about sex and love and relationships and independence and whatnot, and in fact is often described in reviews as providing characterizations that are empowering, and I've gotta say: where the HELL does that idea come from??? Her characters are all prancing around like little children (witness the usually elegant Diane Keaton flitting around like she never had a self-possessed moment in her sixty years) or utterly swimming in insecurity (as are both Winslet and Diaz in this film). And if I ever have to sit through another gratuitous air-guitar scene, I think my insides will shrivel up and die.
And on that note: Cameron Diaz. Wow, dude. The woman is stunningly beautiful, I will grant that. But jesus. Her acting in this film is the most piece of shit acting I have seen in a long, long time. Overacting up the wazoo. Arms flailing, face scrunching up into ridiculous contortions, mannerisms so affected and cutesy and over the top, I was ready to walk out within the first five minutes. How does this woman get roles?? Obviously it's not on the basis of her acting. Now Winslet, on the other hand, was quite good, per usual, in spite of the dreck she was given to work with, and in spite of some awkward moments with her supposed lover, Jack Black, who tried desperately to be the straight man while slipping here and there into his classic manic Jack Black-ness. And Jude Law, well, let's just say Jude is the only reason I stuck around. I seriously started to get up and walk out when the urge to vomit got too much to bear, but then I'd think of the fifty-foot Jude who was due to replace Diaz onscreen any second, and settle back into my chair. The guy is lovely. And granted, while his character was yet another Total Shit Piece of Middle Aged Lady Fantasy, he was still pretty to look at, despite the godawful things they gave him to say. I just have to say, on behalf of all not-middle-aged-ladies who do attend the movies now and then: LET HIM BE A CAD! Please! Don't apologize for the pseudo-caddishness at the beginning by castrating him halfway through the film ("oh, he's not a dashing playboy, he's a sad widower with two little girls and the perfect dad who spends his weekends looking for tutus"). Yes, the tutu thing is an actual part of the script. Let him have his balls! Please! The characters are so much more fun when they actually have a few layers and they aren't so goddamned easy to like! In fact, I liked him better before he was the dad who sews buttons onto the kids' sweaters at night! Arghh!!
Sorry. This rant has been coming for awhile now. I just feel like Meyers' films represent so much of what is so wrong with mass-marketed art and culture and aesthetics right now: they are so whitewashed, so clearly motivated by this bourgeois white fantasy of a land where everyone wears neutral tones and decorates in Pottery Barn and reads Jonathan Franzen and listens to boring music and wallows in questions of self and everyone is white and pretty and upper middle class and utterly vanilla. Give me complicated, give me messy, give me diverse, give me difficult. Give me no easy resolution at the end. Give me more Jude Law in a topcoat and glasses. And just give me no more Nancy Meyers. Ever. Again.