Since so many of the shows I regularly watch are on hiatus these days, I’ve been watching a crapload of movies – some of them good, most of them bad.
Today’s double feature special visits two opposite sides of the spectrum; on one hand, a drama that’s definitely not your average, run-of-the-mill family story. On the other, a silly ‘comedy’ which wasn’t really funny but still mindless, enjoyable fun.
On with the serious (and higher-rated) one first.
The plot is quite interesting and different: a young mother has been held captive for the last seven years in some awful guy (Old Nick)’s garden shed, which is transformed into a tiny living space for her and her young son, Jack. In her effort to raise Jack as best she can under these circumstances in their tight living arrangements, euphemistically called “Room“, she teaches him a very skewed version of the world, in which the only reality exists within the four walls of the 10×10 foot space, and everything seen in their tiny TV set is make-believe. Their captor pays them regular visits to bring supplies and have sex with Ma, but that’s as far as their contact with the outside world goes.
The first half of the movie does a great job at depicting the uncomfortably claustrophobic reality of the mother and son. As Jack gets older, Ma gets more and more desperate. Although she’s tried to provide him a life as close to normal as possible, it’s clearly not working. Jack may be light years away from being like other spoiled kids his own age, but he’s still the sole focus of this young girl’s life; given the complete absence of outside distractions, having the only adult in his life dote on him 24/4 makes him, in a way, more spoiled than any other 5 year old. He sulks when he doesn’t get his way and throws a tantrum when his unimpressive birthday cake lacks candles.
Maybe both Ma and Jack’s demeanor are very realistic; I wouldn’t know, as I can’t even imagine being in either character’s shoes. Brie Larson’s subdued performance is excellent, but the boy just gets on my nerves. I’m not exactly a kids person, and I relate to the mother more than I do the kid. As much as I feel sorry for poor Jack, he mostly just annoys me.
When Ma starts trying to explain to Jack that there’s more to the world than what he’s known all his life, he’s naturally in denial. Her frustration isn’t enough to discourage her from revealing the truth to him. He’s old enough to understand now, and he’s their only hope of ever getting out of Room. When Old Nick tries to go for Jack after a night in Ma’s bed and she tries to stop him, he retaliates by turning the electricity off. She hatches a plan to set Jack free: he has to pretend he’s really sick so Nick can get him to a hospital. When that plan fails, she concocts a much riskier back-up plan: Jack will have to play dead. She will roll him up in the carpet, and when Nick loads him up on the bed of his truck to go bury him somewhere, he’ll jump off the truck and run to the first person he sees.
Although momentarily frozen, mesmerized by seeing grass, houses, roads, cars and just about everything else outside of Room he never even knew existed before this moment, Jack finally makes his escape. Despite a small glitch, he manages to approach a dog-walking good Samaritan, which eventually gets the police involved. Ma is discovered, Old Nick is brought into custody, and the two can finally have normal lives again.
Or can they?
As hard as it is for Ma to readjust to the family life she’d been denied for the past 7 years, it’s all the more difficult for Jack, who’s never known any other reality than that of Room. Her parents are divorced, her father can’t even look at her son, her mother is reserved and a bit uptight, and all the media frenzy isn’t making things any easier. Jack is overwhelmed and constantly scared of his new environment. His Stockholm Syndrome symptoms are evident and completely understandable, and Ma falters between trying to adjust to normal life and being resentful over what she’s lost.
The second half of the movie centers around their struggle to fit into the world from scratch. It’s heartbreaking at times, frustrating at others, and at the end of the day it’s completely new to all parties involved: Ma, who’s spent her entire adult life locked up in Room, Jack, who’s on a constant learning curve, even the grandma, who had to move on with her own life since her daughter got snatched away and now has to contend with a sulky 20-something and a grandson who’s far from normal.
I won’t spoil the ending here, but let’s just say it’s not as dark and miserable as the rest of the movie. The movie itself though… I dunno. It’s definitely original, and the performances are excellent; Brie Larson is fantastic and well-deserving of her Golden Globe, but in the end the kid actor probably steals the show. Except there’s not that substantial a show to steal – at least not for me. I don’t understand the amount of praise this movie has received. Is it bad? Again, not at all. But it’s no masterpiece, either.
If you want to be derisive about it, it’s a relatively short movie about Jason Schwarzman’s giant schlong (and Adam Scott’s tiny one). There’s a whole lot of full frontal nudity in this film, and it’s mostly of the male persuasion for a change – except, disappointingly, both actors used prosthetics so all we see are rubber penises bouncing around in the nude scenes.
Okay, so it’s not just about dicks, even though a lot of the exposition and dialogue seem to revolve around them.
Alex, Emily and their son RJ have recently moved to LA and are looking to meet new people. Along comes Kurt, whose son Max is playing with RJ at a kids’ birthday party, and invites them over for a playdate/dinner party to hang out with him and his wife Charlotte.
The evening starts out normal enough, with the two couples getting along just as well as their sons, but things become increasingly awkward when Kurt shows them a video of him using a breast pump on his wife (after the kids have been tucked in, thank God).
They proceed to get wasted on booze and pot, Kurt shows Alex his original paintings, which are basically close ups of buttholes, and they end up skinny dipping in the pool. Kurt has no problem parading his giant dick around for the world to see, but Alex is very self-conscious about his own tiny one, which was hinted at in the beginning of the movie, when he and Emily were having sex and had to stop before climaxing to finish themselves off.
There’s a fair bit of flirting going on between just about each of them, mostly initiated by Kurt and Charlotte; when Charlotte decides to take Emily along for a booze run and they end up at a massage parlor, where Emily watches through a peep hole as Charlotte gives a random client a hand job, Emily finally decides this has gone too far.
Unfortunately for her, Alex doesn’t feel the same way. He opens up to the strange couple about his… shortcomings and both make him feel better about it, empowering him to accept and embrace his small penis, which results in a very awkward (and hilarious) poolside naked dance.
When Emily finds herself alone with Kurt she starts questioning his motives as well as his source of income, and he explains that he shares those weird breast-pump videos online for a hefty price. Because of course. They go looking for their spouses only to find Charlotte giving Alex a massage, but Emily decides that this has finally crossed the line and that it’s time to go. Alex might have gone through with more than a massage with Charlotte, and Emily is definitely curious about sex with other men (or at least men with bigger dicks than her husband), so they should just get out of there before they do something they might regret.
The confrontation leads to a confession by Kurt and Charlotte that their sex life is dead, and that Kurt is attracted to Alex. The men and women start making out with each other but are rudely interrupted by their kids, so the bizarre swinging scene doesn’t really go anywhere.
Weeks later, the two couples run into each other at the park, and Kurt and Charlotte inform Alex and Emily that they’ve been to therapy and their relatiohship is getting better, so hurray, a happy ending.
As far as pointless movies go, this one is pretty damn successful. It was a fun hour and a half, but I wouldn’t watch it again, nor would I recommend it to anyone who’s not spectacularly bored and has absolutely nothing better to watch. As a side note, even though I’ve binge-watched Orange Is The New Black and am quite familiar with Taylor Schilling’s face, the fact that both female leads look so similar and have identical haircuts is a bit distracting.
And let’s be honest, I’m still kinda bummed that the schlongs were prosthetics.