Friday, February 12, 2016

Everything is awesome/everything is boring


Wednesday was a day of two movie-watching extremes for me, even though the two movies had a deceptive amount in common.

And even though I only watched one of the movies.

I'll explain.

That afternoon my kids watched The Lego Movie when we got home from our day's activities early (because daddy left his wallet on the kitchen counter). I didn't watch it, but of course certain familiar parts seeped into my consciousness through osmosis as it was playing in the background. First and foremost the main song, which my older son was then singing for the rest of the night.

Then that night I went to see Anomalisa, which was just released here last Thursday.

Superficially, they couldn't be more dissimilar. One movie is a colorful celebration aimed at children. The other is a dour meditation with profanity and puppet sex. However, mechanically, they are very similar. Both use stop motion animation, even if for very different purposes.

Then there's the big contrast in their world views, which has a rather literal component to it.

The Oscar-nominated song from The Lego Movie was of course Tegan & Sara's "Everything is Awesome." The outlook on the world of Michael Stone, Anomalia's main character, is "everything is boring," as quoted in an exact line of dialogue. One movie bursts with color, one movie has almost literally had the color drained out of it. (As a prime example of that, please note how the poster above blends almost perfectly into the gray background of my blog.)

And yet there are other themes these two films share. The Lego Movie concerns itself with the idea of conformity, of becoming indistinguishable from your neighbor as you consume your way to a kind of anesthetized bliss. There is a literal element of conformity to Anomalisa, as Stone sees and hears (almost) all the other people in his world as only slight variations of each other. Their voices are exactly the same, and their faces have an eerie doppelganger quality even as they have surface differences, accounting for gender and hairstyle. (Actually, not even really accounting for gender.)

This would be the part of this post where I take my specific observations and provide you a more profound, generalized view of how these films relate to each other and what they're Saying with a capital S. However, in reality, this is the part of the post where I need to wrap things up to get ready to go out of town for the weekend. And yes, that means I'm leaving you without my assessment of the successes and failures of the latest from Charlie Kaufman, one of my favorite creative talents in the movies -- in part because I am still trying to figure out exactly what I do think of Anomalisa.

So, without any further ado ... wrapping up this post riiiiiight ... now.

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