What does Hollywood really need? More superhero movies? More impossible missions? More Academy Award-chasing dramas? Nope. What Hollywood needs is common sense. Every movie needs an editor/viewer with an eye for the absurd, the inaccurate, the insulting and the ridiculous, someone who knows and will point out that the emperor is indeed NOT wearing clothes. They need a Midwestern mom type person who doesn’t suffer fools or flim flam. They need me.
Movies are a hobby. Much like books, movies are a fantastic escape from reality, allowing me to perhaps see things from different perspectives and possibly even feel some feels. Oh, and at this point in a scorching end of St. Louis summer, a great way to chill.
A Walk in the Woods, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte attempting to conquer the Appalachian Trail, was my most recent choice. I would give it an overall “meh,” saved from “don’t go!” because of some awe-inspiring scenery. Plus, I am a huge hiking aficionado.
There were so many problems with this movie, I’ll start with the irritating and work up to infuriating. First, Nick Nolte’s overweight, seriously out of shape character remained the exact same size for the duration of their three month journey? Would he not have lost even just a smidgeon of weight, surely enough to be noticeable, after exercising daily (probably for the first time in his life) and eating camping rations?
Next, did Robert Redford’s character shave every other day or so? It’s possible, but not probable, when hiking the Appalachian Trail, where by necessity of weight load, everything carried is an essential.
Keeping with the notion above, our travelers check into a $40 motel room for some hygiene comfort and r&r. Redford’s character is in the bathroom turning on the shower, and notices there are no towels. He proceeds to the office to rectify. He’s wearing a robe… and slippers… Either we are to believe he has packed these items in his backpack for his 2,000 some odd mile journey, or they were supplied at the $40 motel. I am fairly sure the Hollywood executives have rarely if ever stayed in a cheap, roadside motel. I have. There are no frills at this level of lodging, certainly no complimentary robes and slippers for use. I once stayed at a motel that had a complementary fly swatter hanging on the wall, but that is about the only extra I can remember enjoying at this level of accommodation.
Another problem, also noted in Reese Witherspoon’s “Wild,” those boots need to look like they have been walking a thousand miles!
Now here is where I get riled, really riled. This is a story of two men, granted. There is, by design, no main female characters. I understand, but let’s review the few female characters we did see: a supportive, loving wife, a granddaughter making something in the kitchen, a grieving widow, an exceedingly irritating fellow hiker who was the consummate know-it-all, two overweight women sexually objectified while being denigrated for their size, a sexy motel owner and her vacantly staring mother (evidently frequently inclined to grab mens’ hands and not let go). All combined, perhaps four pages of dialogue, or less.
There was time in this movie to lament the deforestation of the earth, including the dying of hardwood trees on the East Coast. We even had time to receive a mini lecture about layers of rock formations and how they are formed. There was not time, however, to give us even one three dimensional female character. They did, however, cover the holy trinity of sexism: mother, virgin or whore, with a bonus shrew and some fat shaming thrown in for good measure.
Lest you think this is just a silly feminist rant, I recommend putting your favorite movies to the Bechdel-Wallace test. It’s simple:
1) Does the movie have two female characters?
2) Do they talk to each other?
3) Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?
Some like to make the test even more difficult, and add that the female characters must be named.
Only three out of eight 2015 Academy Award best picture nominations passed the test, Boyhood, Selma and, debatably, Birdman. four out of nine passed the test for 2014.
You could make the argument that this seems fair, some movies are just about male characters. Fine, if you reversed the test, and stated there had to be two male characters, who talk to each other about something other than women, how many pictures would fail? I can’t think of one, can you?