I know that I have said this before, but I will say it again now, and probably again another time in the future, and probably again after that, all the way until the year 2012, but considering how much time, money, and human effort it takes to make movies, sometimes I am just baffled (BAFFLED!) that these things exist. Like, dozens of people and millions of dollars were involved in the creation of this week’s entry, Hope Floats, and at no point (apparently) did anyone stop to say “Hey, maybe we should NOT do this.” How is that possible? The documentary Idiocracy is about events that do not take place for many many years. I feel like Kevin Kline in his hit movie Dave in the scene where he sits in a White House conference room and solves all of America’s problems by cutting out the bullshit. “You’ve got to be kidding me, Hollywood.” That is something I would say if I was the Dave of Hollywood.
Until then, here is what I have to say about Hope Floats:
Hope Floats opens with Sandra Bullock appearing on a Ricki Lake style 1990s talk show expecting to get a makeover, but instead finding out that her best friend has been sleeping with her husband, and that they are in love. Yikes! That’s so Raven! So, as is the way with these things, Sandra Bullock packs up her car and moves with her daughter back home. You’ve gotta go back home! Where else are you going to go? To a starter home or small apartment so that your child can continue their education and you can maintain the relationships you’ve spent your adult life building? Now who’s being silly?
So Sandra Bullock and her shitty daughter (seriously, her daughter is a total a-hole) move back to Texas into her eccentric mother’s (Gena Rowlands) home. And the rest of the movie is basically exactly what you think: an hour and 45 minutes of clumsily strung together cliches about family, and marriage, and getting older. I’m not sure there was a single original thought anywhere in the entire movie. So, Sandra Bullock gets a job at a local photo development store, but she is so bad at her job! Until later when she gets better at her job! And Harry Connick Jr. likes her, but she doesn’t like him, but eventually she likes him! And if you think that he is just a humble house painter, you might be surprised to discover that he’s actually an architect, but that he doesn’t do architecture as a career because it would ruin the “art” of it. (Sure!) So they get together. Oh, and at one point pretty early on, Sandra Bullock’s mom gently touches her throat and grimaces. I’m sure it’s nothing. It seems highly unlikely that she will die in the third act of the movie, allowing Sandra Bullock to achieve full self-actualization. She probably just has a cough!
This was my face the whole time:
The whole thing was an entire mess, from the plot to the characters to the fucking dissolves (the fucking dissolves!). Although there are some hints right from the beginning that this movie is not going to turn out well. Namely:
Forest Whitaker? You might think that as a thoughtful, talented actor, Whitaker would turn out to be a thoughtful, talented director. NOPE! In fact, you should keep him away from all of the production aspects of your big Hollywood project.
He messed that up, too!
It seems clear to me that this movie was sold completely on the opening five minutes. The scene in which Sandra Bullock finds out her husband is having an affair on a daytime talk show was probably considered a “killer hook” back in 1998. I mean, I remember when the trailers for this movie came out and the talk show scene was one of the two and a half minutes used to entice people. It probably seemed so NOW!
The problem is that the scene is entirely improbable. Not to get too classist, but these are upper-middle class people. This is just not how they air out their problems. (It’s probably not how anyone airs out their problems. Hasn’t it been shown that most of the “guests” on those shows are just actors?) But even if it was a believable scene, there is still an hour and 50 minutes of movie left! You’re hardly done! But that scene seems to be about where everyone stopped working.
Of course, the movie wasn’t all cliches. Because it can’t be a cliche if it’s so weird and makes so little sense that no one has ever seen anything like it. For example, Sandra Bullock goes into an employment office and basically begs the girl who runs it (who used to be a nerd in high school, and resented Sandra Bullock’s good lucks and popularity, OF COURSE) to help her find a job. “Well what are you good at?” the woman asks. “I used to like taking photos,” Sandra Bullock says. “Well, take some photos over the weekend and bring them into me, and we’ll see what we can find.”
HUH? “Take some pictures over the weekend and bring them into me”?! It is convenient that the employment office lady is also a talented ART CRITIC. And then she just gets her a part-time minimum wage job at a photo developing place? That a high school kid could get by walking in off the street? Good employment office!
Well, don’t worry about it too much, because Sandra Bullock will never interact with the employment office woman again. Just like she will never interact with the best friend who stole her husband again. Because what is the point of following character relationships or resolving plotines when you can just fart around with my life for two hours?
I do like this scene though. It’s just beautifully acted, and emotionally powerful.
HE’S ALL YOURS, WARDEN!
If the plot seems thin to you, you should see some of these characters! Everyone is a simplistic, one-dimensional caricature. Sandra Bullock’s ex-husband is a jerk. Her dad has Alzheimer’s. Harry Connick Jr. is nice. Sandra Bullock is a selfish bitch. (Seriously, when her mom collapses from Unnamed Death Syndrome, the first thing Sandra Bullock says is “this can’t be happening to me.” No, it can’t! Because it’s not happening to you, you shithead!) And then there’s this kid:
Get it? He likes to wear costumes! Interesting character trait. Let’s not work on this character anymore, he’s almost too complex. Also, that is so many fucking costumes. No child has that many costumes. Baby Mummenschanz is like “get serious.” Speaking of that kid, he is Sandra Bullock’s nephew, but he lives with Sandra Bullock’s mom because his mom is dating a pilot (huh?). Fair enough, I guess, except that we never see his mom, and after Gena Rowlands dies, he is just…Sandra Bullock’s son? With Harry Connick Jr.?
And then the movie ends with the first and only voiceover from Sandra Bullock’s daugther? About how hard childhood can be? IT TURNS OUT THIS WAS A MOVIE ABOUT CHILDHOOD ALL ALONG!
Anyway, I am 11 years late on what must have been an incredible Hope Floats ironic-headline writing-party, but let just just say that Hope Floats S(t)inks! (You can’t rush perfection!) Easily one of the 10 worst movies of all time. Maybe even top 5. Put it on the books.