Rock of Ages

So there wasn’t anything on at the cinema that I hadn’t seen already that I wanted to see.  I’ve had my fill of aliens for the summer and thinking like a man was enough romantic comedy.  Of course, I had seen What to Expect 5 times.  Wow… even reading this back I realize just what kind of movie buff I’m turning into returning to being.  By process of elimination (seen it, cartoon, junk, seen it, oh… ok let’s give it a go) I ended up in the Rock of Ages.

I didn’t expect what came next.  From the beginning of the movie I  loved it!  I was reminded how weird musicals can be (isn’t it weird how she can just break into a song in the middle of the bus and no one around her thinks its strange?) and how much I am a child of the 80s. I was taken back to the first song I learned to sing and the first dance moves I ever did.  It was a trip back to when love songs were sweet and thoughts of adulthood involved mini skirts and teased hair.

It was delightful!  The story was a bit classical – boy and girl go to the big city seeking fame and finding eachother – and the songs told it so very very well.  The earthiness of 80s rock’n’roll broke through loud and clear song after song.  And it surprised me!  It really did.  There were as few moments in it that really really surprised me.

  1. The mayor.  What a guy!  I mean, you could smell the wimp on him but getting past the wimp was the shock of how much of a beating he could take!
  2. Stacy Jaxx.  OMGoodness!  When he spoke sense it was like… seriously?!
  3. When the song “I can’t fight this feeling any longer” came on I near passed out… it was SOOO FUNNY!
  4. Zeta-Jones was such a PRUDE!  I’ve seen America’s Sweethearts but in this she was absolutely lethal.  You want to see her “reach across the aisle”.
  5. Also shocking was how good the music was.  And the acting.  It was great!  Tom Cruise was almost as weird as he is in real life.  Russel Brand was a little less weird than he is in real life.  Alec Baldwin has found himself a brand new niche.  He did so well I almost forgave him being a total jerk!

I wanted to sing along from the minute I sat down.  Not because of good music but because of music that I grew up with, timeless stuff that still makes you remember your first kiss or driving to school in the car with your parents.  The music was used to bring to life real live memories of sentiments gone by.  Some of the things about the 80s that will never be forgotten came to life… like

  1. The stupid clothes.
  2. The stupid teased hair.
  3. The ghastly birth of the boy band.
  4. It was still a shock to see how white Michael had become.
  5. Vinyl was on sale still.  (Do you know my spell check doesn’t even recognize “vinyl”?)
  6. Pop was booed off the stage.
  7. Graphics were boxy and brown was popular for advertising.
  8. Hair spray!
  9. Not being able to tell a girl from a guy from behind.  Tight clothes, man skirts, long hair.  NUTS.
  10. The ugly ugly beginnings of rap.

Perhaps the moment I found funniest wasn’t the most obvious.  Something the manager said… “I wish the truth were falser.”  I’m sure he did in the end.

Have a look and send me a note when you’ve seen it!  I’d love to hear what you took home from it.

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What to Expect – Unconventional Review

It was a dog’s day at work that had me praying Psalms 35 and dreaming murder.  To calm down the inner battleship I took the afternoon off and went to the movies – only because Happy Hour hadn’t started yet.  Wasn’t my first choice.  But obviously someone out there had a plan.  My student cousin joined me and we bought tickets for What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

Dear Reader, I add all of this personal background to this unconventional movie review to attempt to explain my uncharacteristic behaviour and protect my badass rep.  Just for the record, Bushlings doesn’t cry.  Not in the movies.  Especially not in a comedy.  Not in public.  And as far as about 99.9% of the people in my life will tell you, NOT AT ALL.

The movie began with such hope – the story of five women who found themselves expecting.  Each of them was a different lady – a young (but absolutely DELIGHTFUL) bimbo married to an old legend, their (“their”) daughter-in-law expert in breast-feeding without ever having done it, a witty young woman working in the dog-eat-(hot)dog world of Food Trucks, a beautiful photographer unable to have children of her own, and a celebrity fitness trainer knocked up by her dance partner on a celebrity dance show.  It was HILARIOUS!  There were fits of laughter to be found in the beginning, the middle, the end, every minute.  From the way in which they found out they were pregnant, to the craziness of their pregnancies, to the delivery room, to Ethiopia this movie was fully engaging.

I am not going to be a spoiler but I will touch on four moments that were planted in my memory forever.

  1. The Dudes.  This movie was not just about women and not just for women.  It was for and about humanity.  The Dudes, headed by Chris Rock, operate in accordance with an unbreakable code that is so absolutely, authentically, terrifyingly and irritatingly masculine it made me cringe, laugh and embrace them all at the same time.  I can see my brothers in these Dudes, my friends, and my Man in Iraq.  If there is ever a man who fears fatherhood (all of ’em), they should watch this movie.  Women, sit them on the couch.  Tie them down if you have to.  Put the thing in front of them.  It shows regular and authentic dudes doing fatherhood in their regular authentic dude way.  All manhood and all powerful and all scary.
  2. The Miscarriage.  It hit me right in the chest.  I’ve never had one but have had the same fears.  Her cruelty, her blame, her crushing disappointment came at me as words that could have come from my own mouth and tears (I admit) that could have welled up in my own eyes.
  3. The Meltdown.  Yes, I laughed with everyone else.  It was hilarious!  At the same time I imagined WOW, that’s probably what pregnancy would do to me.  Big as a house, fighting my own body, farting and peeing and effing and blinding.  Perhaps crying?  Maybe not.  I wanted to reach into the screen and hug her whale of a mummy-tummy and tell her I was rooting for her.
  4. The Adoption.  Here I need to pause before I write.  …………  OK.  I’m ready.  Her ENTIRE story gripped me.  Her insecurity at not being able to do what every woman is built to do and give her husband a child, her fear of not being good enough and undeserving, her love at first sight for the ugly (yup – I said it) little kid in the photograph who turned out to be absolutely gorgeous in person – it consumed me.  Will this be my story?  Will it be my pain and my battle?  Is that the happy ending I will find?  Women who have never been pregnant sometimes (often) wonder.  It may be turn out there was never anything wrong with our ability to have kids, just that we’ve been smart with our protection, but seeing the worst case scenario play out so beautifully really gave me a sense of peace.  Bushlings would never admit that she wept through the ceremony.  She would adamantly deny there being any possibility that she could cry rivers down two of her cheeks in the theater, in PUBLIC.  She wouldn’t tell you that she could weep while writing about it.  Never would you get her to admit to feeling rips at her heart while remembering the beautiful, alone, unparented, forgotten, unloved, unnamed, unrecognized Ethiopian child desperately in need of the motherhood of a woman whose eggs wouldn’t perform even after she had decimated her 401k on IVF treatments.  It would never do to react like that.

As soon as this thing opens up in a theater near you, drag everyone you know and go see that movie.

What to Expect was not what I expected.  It wasn’t a story for women or for men or for children or for adults.  It wasn’t geared to any population in particular.  It was a story about all of us – the one thing we have in common throughout all of humanity.  We each were born to a woman, carried for up to nine months.  Each of us is a combination of either having children, wanting them, and/or fearing them.  This is about every one of us who has been a child.

This is our story.

The Man Whore

Hollywood screwed up.  I came out of the movie theater startled by the new fresh look on love and possibilities but as the lights faded in my memory and my brain reengaged all cylinders I began to realize how crazy and stupid Crazy Stupid Love is.

If you haven’t seen it and don’t want me to spoil it please stop reading here.  Because I will spoil it.  It needs to be spoiled.

It is a story of a middle-aged couple bored with their marriage – something I wouldn’t begin to understand – and a Man Whore that frequents a city lounge (meat market) picking up girls.  Wife has an affair (I’m sure Ashley Maddison made a killing off this movie) and the Husband leaves, heartbroken that his wife would find him so boring and drinks for days at the meat market.  He is badly dressed and embarrassing himself.  When he drinks he rages on and on about the guy who seduced her away.  Man Whore meanwhile is busy practicing his art.  Early in the movie a pretty girl rejects him rudely and walks out annoyed at his advances but at this stage when Husband is drinking his sorrows away Man Whore is on his A game.  Every night a new girl, some nights more than one.  Annoyed at hearing the sob story across the bar, Man Whore decides to induct Husband into the Man Whore club.  He dresses him up, gets him out there, and turns Husband into a fully practicing Man Whore.  Yes ladies, it’s contagious.

The movie has other bits to it.  Seems like everyone but the dog has an unrequited love.  Long story short, Husband no longer bores Wife when she finds out about his new womanizing ways and they get back together.  Pretty Girl who rejected Man Whore at the beginning turns out to be the eldest child of Husband and Wife (this town is too bloody small).  She  brings home Man Whore as her new-found boyfriend and love of her life.  Turns out she saw through all his crap and he was so impressed by her wit that he decided to give up his whoring ways for this beauty with a brain.

What bullshit.

What woman is there alive that can tame a Man Whore?  Not one.  The only woman who has any influence over his ways is his mother and by the time he becomes a Man Whore she has already spoiled him beyond repair, helped him become what he is, stroked his vanity and damaged his view of women.  She cannot cure him and the time for prevention is past.

Only a Man Whore can truly cure a Man Whore.  With a nudge from God or extreme circumstances like tragedy or illness.  It’s like a bad addiction – you have to know it’s a problem, want to change it, take the steps you know to change it and seek help if it is beyond you.  For a Man Whore it ends at step 1 – do Man Whores really think they have a problem?  They get all the attention strutting around bright and gaudy like peacocks and see how much more action – no matter how meaningless – they get over the good guy.  Most cultures teach them that their whoring ways are a sign of manhood.  And what man doesn’t want a full helping of that?

There are examples in the smallest of communities and the largest of cities, some never told and others on the evening news, of attempts to cure a Man Whore gone bad.  Politicians’ and athletes’ wives stand humiliated as he confesses to four full-blown affairs and twelve hookers, usually the tip of the iceberg.  Behind her practiced game face I can just hear her screaming at herself “All this after I worked so hard to tame him”.

Honey it was never your job.

Hollywood should fix this.  Can we please see some more movies where the nice man gets the girl?  The one with a job, with no crazy ex-wife or children, who no longer lives at home with his mother, and who is waiting for this girl and only this girl to have crazy stupid love with him?

And believe me, they are out there.  Not in the meat market but in the grocery store, the book club, the church, the charity organizations, education, sports.  They are out there doing things, not just taking things.  If Hollywood lights came off the peacock every once in a while I’m sure many more of us would know our eagle when we see him.

Finally ladies.  One thought for you.  A peacock is earth-bound.  It is the eagle that flies.