Al Gore Reviews "Cast Away"
It's both the name of a pretty good movie as well as an accurate description of my political fate. Oh sure, when I finally conceded, many of the TV pundits said I had a great chance for a comeback in 2004. Well, that idea lasted for all of about two days. That's when Hildebeast and Billy Boy stepped into the breach with the multi-million dollar book advance (note to Hillary's ghostwriter: get your payment upfront) and the multi-million dollar Embassy Row mansion. Suddenly THEY were about to become the Government-In-Waiting for the next four years. And where does that leave Al Gore here? A Cast Away.
Since my chances of ever making the Big Move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are somewhere between Nil and None, I've resigned myself to writing movie reviews for the rest of my lackluster life. But I'm not bitter, GODDAMNIT! So on to the movie review.
Right off the bat I really liked one particular element of "Cast Away." The cinematography. The flick starts off somewhere in West Texas. Instead of glamorizing the scenery with beautiful photography, cinematographer Don Burgess shows us a vista with a toned down brownish color which perfectly matched the rather dreary mudhole splattered landscape. OK, so now we know that this ain't gonna be some feel good Forrest Gump movie with sparkling scenery and sentimental music.
About the only thing more depressing than brown, muddy West Texas is gray, slushy downtown Moscow in the middle of winter which is where we meet the main character, Chuck Noland as portrayed by Tom Hanks. Noland is a time obsessed manager for FedEx who is doing his best to get those lazy damn Russkies to make their package deliveries on schedule. At this point, I was starting to wonder if "Cast Away" was financed by FedEx. I mean the flick sure came off as one hell of a great infomercial for that company.
I fondly remember the many times I used FedEx to pick up political contribution checks when I made all those fund raising phone calls from the White House. It wasn't enough to just get a contributor to promise to send in money. Most of the time they would just promise to send in a check while week after week went by with nothing in the mail from them. The technique I used was to just tell them to sit tight at their desks with a tall cold glass of ice tea and I would have a FedEx truck stop by to pick up the check within a couple of hours. It worked like a charm thanx to the efficiency of FedEx and folks like Chuck Noland.
Unfortunately, who knew that Hillary would suck up enormous sums for her Senate race and leave my campaign money sources dry? Did you ever stop to think that just ONE MILLION extra dollars that was snatched from my campaign would have been more than enough to gain me well over 537 extra votes in Florida? Yeah, Hillary. If not for your selfish leeching on to my campaign fund sources, today I would be on the verge of my Presidential Inauguration instead of a humble movie reviewer. Think on that while you're wining and dining with the glitterati in Washington you LOUSY BITCH!
Okay, okay! Calm down now, Al. You musn't get snippy. Take a deep breath and try to forget that you were STABBED IN THE BACK! Now where were we? Oh yeah. Chuck Noland, the super efficient FedEx guy. Anyway, for some reason, Chuck had to accompany a bunch of packages for delivery somewhere in the South Pacific. Now why inanimate objects need a chaperone for their trip I don't know but the plot needed for Chuck to be somewhere over the vast ocean in a jet. Why? So he could crash into the ocean.
And what a crash it was! We're talking about the Crash of all Crashes here. This was definitely the SCARIEST plane crash ever on film. You can bet that "Cast Away" will NEVER be shown as an in-flight movie. I mean this crash scene was so frightening that I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position with my thumb in my mouth while whimpering, "MAMA!" Thank God Tipper wasn'-t with me to see this movie because that plane crash scene would have caused her to pop so many pills as to make it impossible for her to avoid an overdose.
After Chuck lives (barely) through the plane crash, he escapes on a rubber raft at sea. If you think he is relieved about his escape, think again because he is bobbing up and down on mountainous waves in an incredibly violent thunderstorm. Thanx again to the wonderful cinematography of Don Burgess we are treated to an experience that combines both the terror and loneliness of being cast adrift on a stormy ocean. This is something that must be seen to be fully understood so enough of my yakety-yak on this subject.
Chuck finally makes landfall on the islands so things finally improve for him but not by much. Yeah, it's great to be on land again but the island is mostly just a large rocky hill about 500 feet high with only a small beach. It would have been really easy to show the lush tropical vegetation but instead the colors are toned down by Don Burgess to give us (and Chuck) the depressing feeling of loneliness on what is really a boring island.
Have you noticed? This is the THIRD time I have mentioned the wonderful cinematography of Don Burgess. Is he a relative of mine? No. It's just that he did a great job plus I need to balance off the fact that I plan to rip Director Robert Zemeckis a new asshole. However, I'll save that particular critique for later.
The first thing we learn about this island is that it is a far cry from that phony Survivor Island. No Jeff Probst here to show up on the scene with a bucket full of ice cold brewskis along with a bundle of yummy treats to munch on if you win some dopey competition. That's the downside. The upside is that Chuck did not have to put up with that idiotic doctor, Sean, whose idea of survival preparation was to build a useless bowling alley in the sand and pack an emergency razor with which to shave his chest. Which reminds me. If I'm ever in a horrible accident and taken to an emergency room where Sean is the surgeon, please just administer euthanasia to me before allowing him to perform any operations on me.
It soon dawns on Chuck that help is NOT on the way. There is a shipping lane way off in the distance but the problem is he can't get his rubber raft out past the surf. Bad for Chuck but great for an updated "Endless Summer" surfing movie. Hey Dude! That surf was really rad!
Since it looks like Chuck wont be getting anywhere near a Burger King in the near future, he sets his sight on all the coconuts lying around the island. While attempting to harvest his coconuts ("harvest" being a fancy term meaning "smash them open"), Chuck has the first of his "2001: A Space Odyssey" moments. This was when he realized that he could use a sharpened side of stone to cut open coconuts. It was a scene reminiscent of the "2001" monkey who figured out he could use a bone as a tool. DUH! And we evolved 4 million years only to repeat that same scene again?
A bunch of FedEx boxes from the downed jet wash up on shore but Chuck, still the gung-ho company man, refrained from opening them for a few days. That I don't get. Whatever was inside those boxes was already waterlogged so why not just open them? Finally, Chuck gets around to opening the boxes (except for one) and it seems to be mostly useless stuff like some sort of dancing tu-tu, salt drenched videotapes, and ice skates. However, Chuck eventually puts them to use including even using one of the ice skates for some drastic root canal surgery. OUCH!
For some strange reason, Chuck still refuses to open up one of the FedEx boxes. STUPID! Hey, Chuckie! Did you ever stop to think that maybe someone was FedExing some sort of waterproof satellite global locator that would have brought rescuers to your tiny little island within less than a day? Instead you ended up frying your brains there for FOUR BORING YEARS!
Boredom alone should have caused Chuck to open that package. Perhaps someone was sending along Euell Gibbons' "Stalking The Blue-Eyed Scallop" as a book gift. Guess what? Chuck could have used that book to aid in his survival. I read it and it is a hell of a lot more helpful for survival on an island than "Earth In The Balance." Not only was Gibbons a running joke on the Johnny Carson show but he had detailed information on living off food in the wild. Before anybody had heard of "Uni" at Yuppie sushi bars, Gibbons was telling us about opening up sea urchins and eating the raw eggs. Even better, he had a recipe for making coconut wine. You think Chuck wouldn't have appreciated forgetting his woes by getting blasted out of his mind for four years on that fermented coconut juice? Hell, I think I'm gonna get me a copy of that Euell Gibbons book RIGHT NOW! I need to whip me up a few gallons of that coconut wine to anesthetize myself for GW's upcoming inauguration. Anything to help me forget that just 537 lousy miserable Florida votes were all that keeps me from taking the oath of office on January 20.
One of the few projects that kept Chuck busy on the island was his effort to make a fire. Too bad he didn't take his reading glasses along. He could have used them to make a fire like BB did on Survivor. Instead, Chuck was forced to do it the hard way with a stick and a clump of dry moss. Actually the best kindling material for starting a campfire is paper chads. And the ideal number of chads for getting that fire going is 537 chads. No more and no less.
A few days after reaching the island, Chuck is reunited with one of the jet crewmembers who comes floating in. They were unable to get too far in congratulating each other on making it to the island because the crewmember was handicapped by the fact that he was dead. Actually he was just movie dead which means that his head and body was merely covered by a gray deathly pallor. Being REALLY dead is a whole other matter.
I should know what dead bodies really look like. I had to confront death in the face back when I was a point man in 'Nam. It was my responsibility to occasionally decide which of my bodyguards had to take time off from his regular duties of guarding me to go out into the bush on patrol. Since I always pointed at the one chosen for this task, this is why I was designated as the point man.
Anyway, one day my bodyguard brought back the body of a Viet Cong he found floating in the Mekong Delta. Charlie's body was bloated to about twice his normal size and he had arms and legs stretched out at odd angles frozen in a state of rigor mortis. Worst of all was the incredibly nauseating stench from that body. Right away I blew out my entire gourmet Chinese dinner prepared for me by my personal chef. While my egg foo young, sweet & sour pork, and chicken chow mein blasted out in front of me and down my tailored combat fatigues, my laughing bodyguard flipped Charlie over which just started the heaves all over again when I caught a glance of his maggot infested face covered with flies.
Yeah, that's what REAL dead bodies look like. However, no chance you would see this in the flick. It would cost too much to the theater owner to clean up all the audience upchucks splattered all over the seats and floor. Just the use of Odorama alone to re-create the horrid smell of death would cause a massive cleanup operation in the theater. Therefore we were mercifully given only a very toned down version of a dead person.
Just what Chuck did on that island was mainly to wait for time to go by. Only two things helped him make it through his boring existence---a picture on an antique pocket watch of his girlfriend and Wilson. That whole thing about his girlfriend's picture helping him out I don't get. I mean, come on. We're talking about Helen Hunt (Kelly Frears) here. Why the hell can't Hollywood come up with some hotter chix nowadays? Fifty years ago, Chuck would have been staring at a pic of Ava Gardner; forty years ago---Ann Margret; thirty years ago---Raquel Welch; twenty years ago---Bo Derek; Even the silicon-implanted, coke-voiced, blank-eyed look of Demi Moore of just ten years ago would have been a vast improvement over the homely Helen Hunt.
More realistic was Chuck's worship of Wilson. This I can relate to for I shall worship no other than my One True Wilson who I have accepted into my heart and soul as the path to my personal salvation. Yes, if there was one thing I learned while flunking out of Divinity School it is to revere Wilson for he shall lead me through the Valley of Death to Everlasting Glory.
HALLELUJAH Brothers and Sisters! Do you Bee-LIEVE in Wilson? Accept Wilson now and ye shall find SALVATION!
By now you're probably wondering what the hell this whole Wilson rant is all about. Well, I could reveal the true nature of Wilson as did some movie critics whom I shall refrain from naming (Roger Ebert, Stanley Kauffmann) but it would ruin the flick for you since Wilson is an important plot device.
Remember that "2001" moment I mentioned earlier? Well, Zemeckis must have been a real "2001" fan because there was a second "2001" moment after Chuck spent about four years on Boring Island. This happens when Chuck finds the side of a Porta-Potty floating to the shore. He sets it upright and soon he's like the "2001" ape staring at the Black Monolith in the form of a Porta-Potty siding. Suddenly Chuck gets his inspiration on how to finally escape from the island. I almost expected to hear "Thus Spake Zarathustra" at that moment (the "2001" tune to you idiots).
Chuck manages his escape but just barely. Unfortunately he was forced to forsake his Wilson. This was the scene that almost brought me to tears. It was a heart wrenching decision of whether to save your life or cast Wilson asunder. Personally I could not find life worth living without my Wilson but if Chuck wants to live on as a heathen, that's his choice (lousy heretic).
So far, despite a few minor plot problems, "Cast Away" was a great film. However, from the point Chuck was rescued until the end of the film this movie should have been called "Pissed Away." Because that is what director Zemeckis did. He just Pissed Away what would have been a really terrific movie with an incredibly lame ending.
Let's see. Someone lives like an animal on an isolated island for four long years and we are expected to believe that the only lasting impact on him is a strong hankering for ice cubes and the ability to show sympathy for the death of his friend's wife? That's it?
Oh yeah. His girlfriend, Kelly, marries someone else while he was stuck on the island. However, since we are talking about the rather unappealing Helen Hunt here, can that really be considered a great loss? Then we have a very whimsical ending with only the hint of a new romance for Chuck. YAWN!
And Mr Zemeckis, would you mind telling us just what the HELL was in that FedEx package that Chuck never opened? If you don't tell me, I'm gonna stab you with my sharp Florida ballot punching stylus!
On my Chad Rating Scale of 1 to 10 Chads with 10 Chads being best, "Cast Away" would have earned at least 9 Chads but because Robert Zemeckis ruined it with a piss-poor ending, I'm only awarding it 7 Chads. "Cast Away" is rated PG-13 which means it is safe for your kids to see since this movie is shtoop-free and has none of that disgusting foul language that your precious li'l darlings use every day in the school yard.
This is the NEW Al Gore keepin' it real with my movie review.