Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dog Movie/Nicholas Sparks Folly...


I just got done crying my eyes out at the end of “Hachi: a dog’s story” 

Sorry—SPOILER attached if you are really into emotional masochism and want to watch this yourSELF…

I got sucked into watching this thing because 

a) one of my most recent jobs involves an Akita named Hachi and I was DOING RESEARCH even though I tend to hate Richard Gere in just about EVERYTHING, and then 

b) they sprung this EXTREMELY CUTE SHIBA INU PUPPY on me (trying to sell him as an Akita although they fixed their error later) and I thought, “Well, it’s only two hours out of my life…”

So an hour later, Richard Gere had died of a tragic heart attack after bonding with the puppy and having taken the train to work every day and then being met by the (now grown) dog every night. 

Then there was ANOTHER hour of the dog running away from his home in inconsolable grief and LIVING UNDER A BOXCAR.  AND EVERY AFTERNOON HE WOULD GO TO THE TRAIN STATION AND WAIT FOR RICHARD GERE TO SHOW UP.

FOR TEN YEARS.

Of course, at the end, the old dog is hanging out watching the train station door and RICHARD GERE DOES SHOW UP.  But it is just a sappy way of expressing that the dog died…there is no weird “Lost” finale vibe, which I found disappointing, although I could name a lot of people who would NOT.

Even with the sap factor, I’m sitting there crying like a baby, cursing dog movies and my folly in even WATCHING one. 

And Smokey, who is on my lap and is getting all wet from the tears, is glaring up at me and here’s what she’s thinking:

“You IDIOT.  IT IS ONLY A STUPID DOG.  You would think he WOULD HAVE FIGURED OUT THAT RICHARD GERE WAS NOT COMING BACK AFTER A YEAR OR TWO.”

But darned dog movies are ALWAYS the same.  I can’t pretend I don’t know what I’m getting into.  I mean:

  • Old Yeller
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain (not a movie YET, but I accidentally finished that book while changing planes and was CRYING all the way down the aisle of the second plane, while people were glaring at my husband, who had OBVIOUSLY MADE ME CRY…)
  • Marley & Me (didn’t even see it, but I JUST KNOW)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows.
  • Nights in Rodanthe  (Oops, sorry, no dogs in that one, but it is THE SAME FORMULA).


I don’t mind an occasional dip into the beautiful sadness of love and loss.  But I definitely HATE it when it has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and I see it coming from ten miles away and I STILL cry.  And dog movies are kinda notorious for that…

It’s also why I HATE NICHOLAS SPARKS MOVIES.  They are SO predictable that there is ABSOLUTELY NO NEED FOR ME TO SEE THEM.

There will be some vaguely loser-ish person who, against the odds, hooks up an improbably awesome person (who may also seem loser-ish at the beginning).  Of course, both losers are Hollywood losers, you understand—each is still a relatively attractive person with atypically firm muscle tone.  Maybe he has some mild “bad boy” characteristics (nothing quite as serious as being a meth-head or a serial murderer) or he’s screwed up in the head from guilt over a Surgery Gone Wrong or she has a wacky fundamentalist father who won’t let her wear makeup or a philandering ex-husband she can’t quite dump, et cetera.

And then, after you sit through all the sexual pseudo-tension and the couple decides to get together and live happily ever after, somebody is going to BITE THE DUST. Or LOSE THEIR MEMORY.

Here’s how predictable they are:

My friend Natasha was channel-surfing one night and “A Walk to Remember” came on. And she, who’d seen it WAAAAAY TOO MANY TIMES before and (in my opinion) had gone into some Stockholm Syndrome type of agreement with the oppressor, insisted, “You have got to watch this!”

It was just at the scene where the “bad boy” watches Mandy Moore (daughter of uptight minister who won’t let her wear makeup) sing something and you can see he’s FALLING IN LUUURVVV.  They zoom in on his face, his eyes widen, and the violins swell in the soundtrack. 

I had never seen this movie or heard anything about it, but the bad boy’s acting in that scene is ALMOST as good as that of the marionettes in “Team America.” 

ALMOST…

And I’m like, “Is THIS a NICHOLAS SPARKS movie???” 

(Because I had just gotten tricked into watching “Nights in Rodanthe” where Richard Gere was Diane Lane’s Awesome One True Love that Helped her Move On from her Philandering Husband and, right before they got together FOR GOOD, there was this TOTALLY RANDOM MUDSLIDE IN ECUADOR THAT KILLED RICHARD GERE OFFSCREEN.  And I was STILL feeling the pain of all those clich├ęs and losing those two hours of my life.)

And Nati stops the action and says, “Yeah, I think so…”

And I’m all, “Don’t go ANY FARTHER.  And let me guess…he FALLS in LOVE with her, he totally REFORMS, and then SHE DIES OF CANCER.”

No answer.  Nati just stared at me…

“Okay, okay,” I said.  “A CAR ACCIDENT.  She dies in a CAR ACCIDENT.”

Nati burst out laughing and said, “CANCER.  It’s CANCER!!!”

It’s always gonna be SOMETHING bad in Sparksworld.  So why waste the time?  There’s such a thing as tragic catharsis.  Shakespeare knew how to do it.  Nicholas Sparks, not so much.  Maybe it’s 60-40 on dog movies…

I never thought I’d say this, but thank God for “Beverly Hills Chihuahua!”