Vinegar And Oil
 
The dork in “She’s Out Of My League” has several guy-friends who help him believe he’s not good enough for her, and not surprisingly, after a while, he believes the same thing.  Yes, it’s the new brand of gross-out humor: guys talking about sex, a lot, but nobody really knows anything about real relationships.  So they pool their ignorance, and help reinforce their indefinite suspensions in juvenile, adolescent images of women:  as sex objects to be rated, not real people with social needs not unlike themselves.  Not surprisingly, after a while, the idealized girlfriend gets a little tired of being put on a pedestal, and not taken seriously for who she really is, or wants.  At bottom, this is just a silly little love story, kinda cute, really.   But to get to that part, you have to be willing to endure---- well, gross-outs not to be mentioned in polite company, only sniggered at in the boy’s room.
Same with “Hot Tub Time Machine.”  Here we are, again, scatology squared, four guys stuck in emotional adolescence, none of them successfully and happily in a relationship with a real person of the opposite gender.  Even worse, as grown men with arrested emotional development, they’ve grown apart from each other, as well, so they don’t really even have their old friendship to fall back on.  This causes one of them to stay too long with the car running inside the garage.  He’s happily and drunkenly singing along, rather skillfully, to a rockin’ 80’s tune, while blissfully waiting for oblivion.  He doesn’t quite make it, but he does put quite a scare into his old buddies, who decide they all need to roll back the clock, and take a male-bonding trip again.  They return to the site of a “happenin’” ski resort in the 80’s, only to find that the place is broken down and desolate, kind of like they are, which only makes the mutual depression worse.  Ah, but through some inexorable fate, the hot tub, properly short-circuited, physically transports them all back to the 1980’s, where they can then do a few things over, but most of all, they can re-establish the connection to each other that they once enjoyed.  At bottom, that’s kind of sweet, but in order to get there, you have to be willing to endure a lot of trash talk, much gratuitous nudity, many awkward “sexual situations,” and persistent attempts to offend the genteel viewer.  A word to the sensitive should be sufficient.
            “The Last Song” has enough oil to offset all the vinegar of the other two.  This movie could have been made in the 1950’s.  Miley Cyrus tries her hand at a purely dramatic role in this Nicholas Sparks melodrama converted to the screen.  She plays a rebellious teen who really doesn’t want to spend the summer at the beach house of her Dad (Greg Kinear), because he left Mom several years ago, and she hasn’t been civil to him since.  Little brother (Bobby Coleman), though, still wants to be with Dad, and so “Ronnie” grumpily hangs out on the beach, and not surprisingly, meets a beach volleyball player (Liam Hemsworth).  Thus begins the summer romance we were expecting, but the road has it bumps and twists.  What’s unusual about this film is its gentility:  there’s no foul language, no nudity, no sex, not even innuendo or bathroom humor.  Violins on cue.  Screen time spent on characters standing by themselves, gazing off into the distant sea, soft music in the background, with not even a voiceover to tell us what they’re thinking.  A cute little subplot about sea turtles, which seems to have nothing at all to do with the story.  Family members sacrificing for each other.  Everyone fully clothed at all times.  And immortality consists of a burst of sunlight shining through a stained glass window?  Miley (the pop star sensation Hannah Montana) only sings once, and that’s in the car, singing along to a pop song---she’s supposed to be a great pianist who’s quit in a snit (well, her piano playing is serviceable, anyway).  This plucking-at-the-heartstrings, soft-around-the-edges chick flick will require hankies, but it seems a rather extreme alternative to the guy’s hardcore gross-outs.  Niche marketing, indeed. 
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas