Movie REviews REviews by scripture reviews by alphabet
About the CRitic links
     
                             
                                                Stupid Comedies
 
"Sydney White":  This tenny-bopper comedy starring Amanda Bynes is targeted for early-teen and preteen girls, even though the plot is about going off to college.  Sydney White is a tomboyish sort raised mostly by her loving Dad (a refreshing change of pace in itself), who is a plumber, and his construction crew who all fell in love with the little girl who learned to wolf whistle by being with them.  Isn't that cute?  She's determined to pledge the same sorority as her (deceased) Mom, as a way of "connecting" with her.  But she finds that the sorority is filled with self-absorbed prima donnas, and she finds herself more comfortable with the geeks and dorks in the run-down co-op house down the street.  But, it's not enough to just let the mean girls be mean without her; somehow they have to be defeated and humiliated, as well, and in that this well-meaning valentine to acceptance of others loses its own way. 
 
"Mr. Woodcock":  This one is definitely an adult comedy, though there are many scenes in a high school.  Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton) is a long-time, small-town gym teacher.  He routinely abuses the boys under his charge, always verbally, and sometimes physically, but somehow he gets away with it, and is even rewarded for it, as returning students praise him for his challenging kind of tough love that helped them redirect themselves.  It's Simpson humor without the animation.  Every situation calls for cynical wisecracks, all sincere people are put down, enthusiasm is met with criticism, caustic condescension is the norm, and anybody who makes a fool out of himself is to be laughed at mercilessly.  And if somebody gets seriously injured, well, that's even more laughable.  Seann William Scott is a former student who has dealt with his gym-class angst by writing a successful self-help book, and is delighted to be asked to return home as the conquering hero, in a public congratulatory ceremony, no less.  But alas, he finds, upon returning home, that his otherwise rational single Mom (Susan Sarandon) is now dating Mr. Woodcock.  The fireworks are immediate between the two men angling for the same woman's affection, but who can't stand each other.  This one, too, has its funny moments, despite itself, but also loses its own way, as the two emotional Neanderthals finally make their peace, but only after beating each other to a bloody pulp.  So that's how we're supposed to earn each other's respect?
 
"Good Luck Chuck":  Also definitely an adult comedy, complete with jiggling appendages, constant crass innuendo, and a persistently puerile point of view about love, sex, and body parts.  It's a creative premise, though---a young teenager at a spin-the-bottle party is "hexed" by a spurned girl turned vengeful ("Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned").  He (Dane Cook) grows up into the guy who never finds love himself, but any woman he's with meets her "soul mate" immediately thereafter.  This gives our friendly local dentist a permanent reputation as a "good luck charm," and single women are literally throwing themselves at him for the infamous "one night stand" (do we really need to be so explicit about these serial sexual encounters?).  He quickly grows weary of the shallowness of this instantly dissolving intimacy.  Surprise, surprise, it's not nourishing to him emotionally.  But once he does meet "the girl of his dreams" (Jessica Alba), he's understandably wary that his "hex" will work on her, and he still won't be fulfilled.  Toward the end, the steady diet of raunchy humor gives way to a sweet little love story, but you would have to retain an un-offend-able juvenile sense of humor to enjoy arriving there.
 
Questions For Discussion:
1)  When did you feel excluded?  What did you do about it?
2)  Who was your worst teacher?  Do you still feel traumatized by the experience?
3)  Would you kiss a frog if you thought the next kiss would be with your happily-ever-after prince?
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas

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