Friday, November 5, 2010

See Vance walk, see Courteney run

One of the hazards of being a professional film critic -- even one with the weird job description I have, which involves submitting new reviews for old movies -- is that you sometimes have to see movies like John Whitesell's See Spot Run (2001).

One of the positives is that it sometimes gives you not one, but two ideas for things to write about on your blog.

See Vance walk

I have not been to the gym since my son was born. It's not that I suddenly hate exercise. Unsurprisingly, it's a question of time and priorities. When you have a new baby in the house, it's not only the time you can devote to leisure activities that takes a hit. It's also any other time out of the house, like at the gym.

But my wife and I discussed it and we both thought we'd rather have me get back into the habit of going to the gym than to cancel my gym membership, which costs me the manageable price of $26 a month, and seems a shame to let go as a result. So for the first time this week I moved a bonafide "gym movie" to the top of my Netflix queue. And by "gym movie" I mean a movie that doesn't necessarily demand to be seen on a nice screen, whose subtle details will not be lost in a setting in which I've strapped my portable DVD player to the top of the stairmaster with a pair of rubber bands. See Spot Run was that gym movie.

Unfortunately, my attempt to get to the gym on Monday night didn't work out. I'd miscommunicated with my wife about my intentions -- she thought I had planned to go in the 6 o'clock range, while I'd actually planned to go in the 9 o'clock range. So I ended up drinking too much white wine and the gym was scrapped. Tuesday seemed complicated because it was election day, and on Wednesday I planned to go to a friend's that night.

But I didn't want to keep See Spot Run for a second longer than I had to, because it was preventing Netflix from shipping me my next disc.

So I had a potentially groundbreaking brainstorm. Whereas I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone while watching a crappy movie I have to review while exercising, there might even be a way to -- get this -- kill three birds with one stone. It's never been done in the history of humankind, but I thought I might be the first one to make it work.

Those three birds being:

1) exercising;
2) giving my wife a break from our son;
3) watching a movie.

How would I do it? Simple: I would attach my portable DVD player to the bar across the top of the handles of the stroller, where you're supposed to put your drink. And using this method, I could get myself some cardio, watch a crappy movie, and get my son out of my wife's hair for a couple hours. I guess it could actually be four birds if you consider the walk to have some intrinsic value to my son, as a way to change up his routine and get him out into the world.

Now I know what you're thinking. Vance, if you're watching a movie while pushing your son in his stroller, you're either not paying very much attention to the movie, or not paying very much attention to your son. That latter being the biggest concern in terms of his safety -- don't want to start pushing him into traffic because I'm caught up in the movie.

Which is why only terrible crap like See Spot Run will get watched in a setting like this. I realize it's a little unfair to the movie I'm watching, especially if I'm reviewing it, to assume that I can consume as much of it as I need while the screen is occasionally blocked out by the sun, and while I have to look away occasionally to make sure I don't run into anybody. But I'd already watched the first 40 minutes of it at home, which was enough to bias me against it in its entirety.

Besides, let's be honest. People have dozens of distractions when they watch movies at home anyway. You could actually say I'm more focused on it because I don't have the internet to tempt me, to steal away half of my ability to concentrate via a mentally intensive form of multi-tasking. At least here I'm only walking, which doesn't require much mental commitment.

Plus, there's a lot of down time when you're waiting for the crosswalk to change, etc. There are only really a couple moments -- crossing streets and blind driveways, for example -- when I can't be keeping at least one eye on the movie.

Parent of the year? Maybe not. But I'll keep my son safe for sure.

And I'll be getting exercise, babysitting and watching movies. The three (four) birds are worth the (very) minor risk.

See Courteney run

One of the first things I thought the other week when I heard that Courteney Cox and David Arquette were separating was: "It's about time."

In fact, I have always been flummoxed about why a cool, funny chick like Courteney Cox would want to align herself with a doofus like David Arquette.

See Spot Run reminded me of just how much of a doofus.

Arquette is in that category of "comic actors" (to use an extremely generous term for them) who seem to have gotten where they are solely on the basis of acting goofy and bugging out their eyes. I know I could be describing Jim Carrey or Robin Williams when I say this, but those guys have shown actual acting chops from time to time. It's morons like Arquette and Jamie Kennedy who have skated by on very minimal accomplishments for a lot longer than they should have. (Or maybe I'm just singling those two out because they both landed attractive babes. Kennedy was dating Jennifer Love Hewitt up until March of this year.)

So it may have taken Courteney Cox 11 years to run away from Arquette, but finally, she's running.

Not fast enough, as it turns out -- now we hear they are separated but not planning to get divorced. Courteney, don't let Arquette's suckiness suck you back in.

Don't get me wrong, See Spot Run would have been one of the worst movies I've ever seen even if someone else were the star. Director John Whitesell is a total hack -- I can't decide which of the three movies he's directed that I've seen, which also include Deck the Halls and Malibu's Most Wanted (which happens to star the aforementioned Jamie Kennedy), is worst, though it's probably this. But there's something about the way that Arquette gets electrocuted by a dog collar, slips repeatedly in dog shit and bounces around a pet store encased in bubble wrap that is especially dreadful.

Run, Courteney. Run.

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