Friday, September 16, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #15


starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anthony Hopkins

directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, EA Sports Football '06)

Because I'm a whimpering, spineless and insecure slave to the strongly-worded whims of my readers, who I am not-very-secretly terrified of alienating, disappointing or driving away lest they abandon me to my pre-blog-rockstar existence of Pepperidge Farms Mint Milanos and afternoons with Dr. Phil, we can all thank the lovely and talented Rita for politely requesting not only the return of this semi-regular feature (the one she killed by saying she hated it) but by requesting that I pretend to review this film in particular.

I'm sure it lessens your estimation of me, dear Bucketeers, to see me bend like a reed in the wind at the request of a single reader, but please understand that you have this very same power. She just happened to speak up first. Request it and I will probably consider doing it. Wanna see Pops write a term paper on a topic eerily similar to the one due in your class by tomorrow that you haven't started yet? All you need do is ask. Want me to write poetry? Eat paste? Perform unnatural sex acts on wild animals I capture outside my home? Ask.

I've already participated in memes at the request of readers, so dignity is obviously no impediment. How much worse could fisting a jackrabbit be?

Of course you must understand that simply agreeing to attempt to fulfill a request is no guarantee of the quality of its execution. I make no guarantee that the term paper I write will be of any objective good to anybody or that the poetry I write on request will even rhyme like all non-sucky poetry should. I only agree to make the attempt.

Now that your expectations have been sufficiently lowered, we are ready to proceed.

Honestly, if Rita hadn't requested this film specifically I would have had no idea it was coming out. I think I saw part of one commercial for it as I was fast-forwarding through the breaks of the Lifetime TV movie Terror in the Family which I had recorded. I just can't get enough Lifetime. That poor Joanna Kerns, I tell you...

The rest of our regular TV watching schedule tends not to carry adverts for films like Proof. The people at Nickelodeon are very selective. They don't carry commercials for anything unless it can be played with, eaten or both.

I have made a good-faith effort to look at some reviews. I have ascertained through careful study of the one that appeared in my local paper that this film has something to do with math.


Not just math. Can you guess what else? What else always happens in movies where people are math geniuses?

That's right: crazy. The Basic Rules of Screenwriting says (among other things) that if someone is a Math Genius they must also be Crazy. Want to know why? Because real math geniuses, besides being naturally un-telegenic and probably allergic to sunlight, sit in rooms and write complicated proofs and stuff all day. If we watched them do that we would be either a) bored or b) reminded that we are ourselves not capable of doing addition to the tens place without the aid of a calculator. So the Crazy gives them license to act in a dramatically compelling, non-stationary way and it lets us, the Average Viewer, know that sure, they're smarter than us, but they also talk to Paul Bettany who isn't really there. See? Crazy.

Anthony Hopkins plays the super-math-genius with all the crazy in this movie. He like dies or something and Gwyneth Paltrow plays his daughter who might also be a math genius and thus might also be crazy. There are a bunch of flashbacks and junk in between scenes that lead up to Gwyneth and Jake Gyllenhaal coming together at last in a very sweet and tender scene where they realize they desperately need something from one another on a deep and personal level and then totally do it.

Or something. I don't know. Jake Gyllenhaal's in this movie for some reason I can't fathom. It seems like it's mostly about Paltrow and Hopkins and Hope Davis as the sister. The only thing I can figure is that Jake is the Designated Penis in this movie.

This film was adapted from the stage play, so you know it's all Deep and Meaningful and Chock Full of Unbearable Pretension and Undecipherable Depth. If it does its job right, at the end we should all want to kill ourselves.

I'm not a huge Gwyneth Paltrow fan. She was good in Shakespeare in Love, but what has she done since, really? She was in The Royal Tenenbaums for about a minute and a half where all they asked her to do was smoke and not blink.

And Jake Gyllenhaal... I don't know. This looks a lot less compelling than his upcoming project where he plays a cowboy in the saddle, cattle-punching, cow-poking and all sorts of other euphemisms for the ass-sex he is sure to engage in while playing Heath Ledger's gay cowboy lover in Ang Lee's upcoming Brokeback Mountain.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that in Proof, the ass-sex will be subtly implied at best. And that's no way to sell a movie.

This film sadly must rate:

Image hosted by The Dreaded Zero (out of three) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.

Rita says she hasn't been to a movie since The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in May. I will tell her what I would tell all of you, words I lived by, my personal motto that got me through college: hold out for the ass-sex.

Move along. There is nothing to see here.



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