Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "Sucker Punch" Syndrome

I’m probably going to get burned at the stake for this one, but here goes…

Last night we went to see Sucker Punch at the theatre. Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I laid eyes on the initial trailer, so I was disappointed to see that it had garnered a whopping 11% on rotten tomatoes, and many scathing reviews. Still, we plunged onward with our plan to watch and enjoy the latest and greatest from visual-ultra-stylist Zack Snyder.

I loved it.

Here’s the thing. When I went to the theatre to watch Repo Men or The Losers I expected loud explosions, plenty of hero shots and a few dialogue zingers. Car chases, muscled men in tight black t-shirts, and a possible damsel in distress all fall within the realm of acceptable and expected elements.

When my girlfriends decided that “He’s Just Not That Into You” was next up for girls night, I expected love scenes, game playing, fashionable shoes and the break-it-right-before-you-make-it relational climax. Witty banter, misguided sex, and self exploration are all on the menu.

What I did not expect from any of these movies was depth of character, intricate plot twists or details, multi-layered story arcs, or anything else worthy of an academy award. This is why it astounds me when people slap Sucker Punch with a sour review claiming “I expected so much more.” Really? Because, you saw the same trailer I did, right? The one where a blonde girl named “Babydoll” wears a two piece Sailor suit and kicks Nazi-Zombies to the curb in an imaginary dream world? And you expected that to be what…Inception?

I feel like this one was all about expectation. People saw 300 and said “Zack Snyder is a visionary director with groundbreaking new visual techniques” then they saw The Watchmen and said “Snyder did the impossible, and made the movie that ‘could not be made’ and people LIKED it” (granted many also hated it, but that’s a whole different sack of hammers). Then Sucker Punch was announced, and it seemed like there was a whole stream of people who decided that this would be the next link in the evolutionary chain of Zac Snyder films.

Sometimes, a movie is just a movie. Cotton candy. Buttery Popcorn. When you go to McDonald’s, you don’t expect a steak. When you go to the Keg, you don’t order a Salisbury steak. It’s all about reading the menu and knowing what’s being served. I guess what I’m getting at is that Sucker Punch earned a bad rap because people chose to write their own future for it, before they saw it for what it was.

Yes, the movie had problems. Yes there were a few shoddy connections, and more than a few moments that left me wanting. But you know what? By the end I didn’t care, because I was fully engaged in a no holds barred, action-packed thrill ride…with girls….and burlesque…and awesome music. I went to Sucker Punch to be entertained. That was it. It achieved that, and I’d watch it again tonight. Just because it doesn’t fall under the genre-tastic ├╝ber classifiers like Action or Chick Flick, doesn’t mean it can’t just be fun, outrageous, and awesome.

For what it was, and what it was meant to be, I give Sucker Punch both my thumbs up. Just don’t go in with your box of tissues expecting the Kings Speech. That one is probably still playing just down the hall, where Oscar lives.

--HUGE props for this go to Derek Langer for Inceptioning this post’s idea into my head (Somebody better be adding that word to Urban Dictionary right now) and talking this whole post out with me. Twice. --

Friday, March 25, 2011

Enjoying a bit of EpicFAIL

Today is one of those days where I can only see my failures looming up before me. Something akin to the giant inflatable beavers used in the Vancouver Olympic ceremonies. I didn't invite them, but they showed up just the same.

On days like this I can only focus on what I haven't yet accomplished. Today the top five are as follows:

1. I haven't finished my re-writes for our NSI Totally Television Submission or finished the application a month in advance, as I would have liked to. Now I must scramble, with a deadline looming.

2. We didn't pitch for Crazy8's this year, interrupting what would have certainly (ha!) been our "Third time's a charm" pitch. I was still recovering when the deadline came around and couldn't fathom getting a pitch together in time. Somehow this valid reason doesn't hold sway over the coulda-woulda-shoulda remorse.

3. I have yet to receive any income from my writing this year, and have succeeded in getting my name in print only with respect to being viciously print-slapped by Vanity Fair Magazine in an attempt to defend the wonder women of new media, thinking the establishment must be on board with this vast new wave by now. Precious little petal...

4. I have not finished my current spec. Though it is close to being first draft complete and next in line after the NSI deadline.

5. I have not yet been offered my own television series due to my extremely enlightened and witty tweets in manner of Sh*t My Dad Says (It's an actual show Dad, I promise). I guess I should work on the enlightened and witty tweet part here...

Despite the fact that I have reasons for falling short of all of these idealistic goals, I cannot help thinking that perhaps I am veering wildly off course by not yet accomplishing them yet. I question my commitment to the only career I can fathom doing for the rest of my life, and wonder if I haven't succeeded by now...will I ever? (It is marginally possible that having my birthday this month has pushed me towards creating unrealistic deadlines in my mind, and convincing me that I should have accomplished more by now. At least that's what Freud told me in his recent email.)

Just as I am about to disable my Twitter account -I jest, I jest- I realize that the Canadian minority government has been dissolved, and think that maybe it is just Friday and the whole country is experiencing epicFAIL. If they can carry on, I guess I have to. Besides, I can't for the life of me think of anything else I want to do with myself, so what choice do I really have anyway?

So I bid yesterday's failures a very pleasant good morning and continue haphazardly charging forward, attempting to mold them into today's triumphs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Over the last few months I have been offering free coverage on Twitter and my blog. I am convinced that one of the most effective ways to become a better writer is to read read read. Now that my class has come to completion, I am ready to do some more coverage. I am planning to start offering script coverage as a paid service eventually, but right now I am operating on a donation basis. I have experience writing coverage for colleagues, as well as production companies on a volunteer basis.

If you are looking for notes for a feature, short film, TV pilot or spec episode, I would love to provide it, then, based on my turnaround time and the value of the notes you can decide what you think it is worth and donate (or not donate) via the paypal button on this site.

Feel free to contact me via Twitter (@rachlanger) or send an email to rachlanger2@gmail.com if you're interested.