Worth A Look: 17.14%
Just Average: 20%
Pretty Crappy: 27.14%
9 reviews, 16 user ratings
|Story of Us, The
Has Rob Reiner become a hack? I hate to think so, since his '80s movies especially were terrific entertainments, but 'The Story of Us' was dreadful and felt like the work of a hack. Or at least a director completely at the mercy of his screenplay, which in this case is beyond atrocious.Technically I haven't seen this movie in its entirety, having watched bits and pieces during breaks. But I probably missed ten minutes tops, and unless during those gaps the movie suddenly shone with unexpected brilliance, it's safe to assume the crap I saw is fairly representative of the whole.
"Good grief, 'North' wasn't a fluke!"
The story's told very quickly, jumping constantly between present and flashback scenes, and we're given the barest of reasons to feel any sympathy for these characters, or to understand why they fell in love or ever even liked each other to begin with. The flashback scene in which they first meet shows Bruce and Michelle working in the same office; they fall in love when (sic--I swear I'm not making this shit up) he throws paper clips at her and she puts on some retarded hat with flashing lights and sirens, and then they smile at each other, either in celebration of how clever they are or that they're both gonna get laid soon. In the movie's benefit, I'll assume it's the latter.
This movie commits one of the cardinal sins of comedy: it plays funny. That's not to say it was funny, only that it played funny. The best comedies are almost always played perfectly straight; the only exception I can think of to this is 'Airplane!'-type spoofs that intentionally take things over the top. But even then it could be argued that the lead actors in 'Airplane!' largely played their roles straight--that's exactly what made Leslie Nielsen's lines so hilarious. But 'The Story of Us' plays funny, and it's dreadful. A perfect example of this is a scene where Bruce, Meathead, and Paul Reiser sit in a restaurant basically doing a bad comedy skit--dialogue that's utterly unrelated to anything else in the movie. Allow me to paraphrase:
Meathead: My ass was on TV the other day.
Reiser: What do you mean your ass was on TV?
Meathead: I'm telling you, my ass was on TV.
Reiser: Oh yes, yes, I remember this. The Kennedy Center celebrates fifty years of [Meathead's] ass.
Meathead: My doctor put a little tube with a video camera up my ass and we watched it together on a monitor.
Bruce: That's not really the same thing as your ass being on television.
Meathead: Why not?
Bruce: Well, first off all, the networks can't cancel your ass.
Meathead: This is true.
Bruce: And secondly, I don't know what kind of demographics you hope to be pulling down with a camera peeking up that big harry crack of yours.
Ha...ha? It's difficult to say whether the theater would have erupted in laughter at this point, as the only people in the auditorium were me and some chirping crickets.
The characters were like bad stand-up comics riffing on this subject or that. Later in the movie Meathead riffs on his ass again. When two "comedy" scenes revolve around the tubby director riffing on his own ass, you know this isn't a good thing.
After 'The Sixth Sense' Bruce seemed to earn a little respectability, but 'The Story of Us' could likely turn even his most fervent fans against him. To her credit, Michelle plays most of the movie straight, but her character's such a poorly written nag that you can't help but root for Bruce to dump her frigid ass. (Of course even though they clearly--and understandably--hate each other, at the last second they decide to stay married because they share, gulp, memories and familiarity.)
Some of this movie is so bad that, even though it's painful to sit through, it's almost as funny as it is disheartening.
Easily the worst scene took place toward the end, and involved Bruce getting drunk at a restaurant (with Meathead and Mrs. Hanks) and going off on a tantrum about his mother-in-law and what a tight-ass Michelle was and bla bla crap. Rob Reiner went on talk shows and said he thought Bruce and Michelle gave the best performances of their life in this movie, which only adds fuel to my hack hypothesis, because with this tantrum scene alone Bruce Willis gives easily one of the worst performances ever committed to celluloid. It's difficult to describe exactly what's so bad about his acting in this scene; he's trying for big pathos and is lamely riffing at the same time. The combination is one the most rancid and pathetic things you'll ever see. I recommend trying to catch this movie on cable just for this scene alone, because it deserves to be studied and dissected and understood by all, so that, like the Holocaust, it'll never happen again.After drunkenly riffing, Bruce goes outside, the violins pluck, and (sic) he starts weeping. And I swear, I was right there with him, tears streaming down my face. Course I was bolting for the exit bent over in hysterics as a wet patch spread across my groin, but hey, any movie that can provoke that kind of reaction deserves some kind of respect. Eh?
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originally posted: 12/02/99 19:20:03