Hi. So. Last night I saw Into the Wild, a movie which I hated. I hated it so much that I have spent the past ten minutes reading A.O. Scott's glowing review of it in the Times, which has gotten me so worked up that I feel the need to write about it myself.
Here is the brief, sum-it-all-up Catherine take on this film: It is bad. I do not care that Sean Penn directed it. I do not care that Eddie Vedder wrote the soundtrack. I do not care that A.O. Scott found it to be "infused with an expansive, almost giddy sense of possibility," or that he believes it "communicates a pure, unaffected delight in open spaces, fresh air and bright sunshine."
Things I do care about?
1. That it is two and a half hours long. TWO AND A HALF HOURS. If it were an enjoyable film, this would not be such an issue; as it is, I kept checking my watch to see how long its protagonist had to go before he died.
2. The protagonist dies. Don't worry; it's not a spoiler. Everyone who hasn't spent the past 100 days locked in a "magic school bus" knows that. What's weird about this particular movie -- compared, that is, to other movies in which you know the protagonist gets knocked off -- is that you spend most of the movie wanting him to die. I mean, really. It's the story of a totally narcissistic, idealistic 23-year-old guy who decides to give his life savings (by which he means the money his parents gave him) to Ox-Fam, burns up his ID and social security cards (and his remaining $500, just for kicks) and heads out on the open road, spewing irritating, self-aggrandizing quotes from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau and Tolstoy along the way.
3. Regardless of how strained his relationship with his parents was, I'm still irritated that he abandoned his family for over a year. I say this because he's got a sister -- mostly seen through melodramatic voiceovers (i.e. "After a while Chris's absence began to lie down on me full length" and a story about Chris breaking into a neighbor's candy drawer that concludes, "Whatever drawer Chris was opening now, I knew must have something truly sweet inside"). And I mean, SHE sticks around. So why is he given the moral high ground for up and leaving everyone with no communication, pushing his parents to nervous breakdowns? Go on ahead to Alaska, I wanted to yell. Say hi to the bears!
4. Gratuitous sweaty hippie sex scene between Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker. Need I say more?
5. Way too many scenes of him appreciating the beauty of the outdoors by climbing up on hills/mountains/magic schoolbuses and stretching his arms toward the sky in a Leonardo DiCaprio's Titanic "I'm the king of the world!" pose as the camera pans in a wide circle around him.
6. Upsetting scenes of him starving to death because, as Penn has chosen to portray it, he eats berries that ruin his ability to digest food and, if left untreated, cause death. I was like, first of all, you headed to Alaska to live in the woods and don't know what kind of fucking berries are safe to eat? And secondly, fine, you made that mistake. But now I the movie goer have to sit here and watch you die. Also, the final aerial shot of the schoolbus with the dead body in it? Totally Dead Man Walking.
7. It was two and a half hours long. Did I mention that already? Fine, he starved to death. Do I have to suffer along with him?
In conclusion, I hated this movie. It pissed me off for the first two hours and twenty minutes, and then the final ten minutes made me so upset that I went home and started crying.
Rated R for stupidity, melodrama, explicit starvation, brief Christ-like male nudity, annoying 23-year-olds, and self-aggrandizing voiceovers by wispy voiced younger sisters.
(This is the blog for Salt Magazine.)