SERENDIPITY (2001)

Serendipity 3

Elizabeth

I imagine most people who’ve seen Serendipity saw it because of a desire to see charming John Cusack and charming Kate Beckinsale brought together by fate and fall in love and live happily ever after. So I also imagine most of those same people were extremely disappointed because instead they got a Lloyd Dobler-wannabe and a waif being total childish assholes.

If you’re like me, you knew the whole thing starts with Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meeting because they both grab the same pair of gloves at Bloomingdale’s, causing them to go on a are-we-fated-to-be-together journey. And that’s true, but here’s how it goes down: Jonathan, who is in a relationship, grabs the same pair of gloves to buy as Sara, who is in a relationship. Despite said relationships, they get ice cream together. They leave the ice cream parlor (called Serendipity 3, ugh) to go on their separate ways, but they find each other there again after they both realize they’ve left something behind at the ice cream parlor. Again, despite their relationships, Jonathan and Sara take this as a sign that they should . . . well, not be together, but enough to go on a more extended date around the city. At the end of the night, Sara, who is in a relationship, gives her phone number to Jonathan, but the piece of paper flies away in the wind. Sara also takes that as a sign, and I guess negating the previous signs of the gloves and the ice cream parlor, so she has Jonathan write his number on a $5 bill that she immediately spends and she writes her number inside a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera that she has in her purse for some reason  with the intention of selling the book to a used bookstore the following morning. IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH OF THE FUCKING SIGNS FOR YOU, THERE’S MORE! Jonathan, who is in a relationship, decides that they should go into the Waldorf-Astoria together, get on elevators, and if they choose the same floor, they’re meant to be! Luckily for us, they do choose the same floor! So the movie should be over, right? Wrong, because that’s idiotic because of course something is going to happen in an elevator, like a child pressing all the buttons in Jonathan’s elevator, so they . . . DON’T end up together! So the movie should still be over, right?

Wrong. Years later, Jonathan is engaged to someone and Sara is engaged to someone. Despite that, for some reason (ie they DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED TO THE PEOPLE THEY’RE WITH) they decide to try and find each other again. After both receiving sign after sign saying they should be together and they shouldn’t be together, ultimately they finally fucking get together because jesus christ make a decision already. And how does Jonathan find Sara again? His sad, unknowing fiance gives him the copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with Sara’s number in it as a wedding gift. Thanks, fiance, and fuck you!!!!!

similar (not identical) situation is presented in the Richard Linklater’s Before series: the characters don’t exchange information but instead choose to meet at a certain time and location, and if it works they’re meant to be together. It doesn’t work, but they still end up together, but only after both admitting how childish and naive of a plan that was. Instead of basing their entire lives on this one thing, they move on, find each other again, and admit that they were stupid to think their big fate idea would ever work in the first place. Serendipity could really use a dose of that self-awareness.

Christopher

This is a movie I thought was around longer than it was. For some reason I thought Sandra Bullock was the female lead but I was totally wrong since it’s Kate Beckinsale. But it’s a romcom where I really don’t know why anyone would like it? It’s full of too many terrible people that shouldn’t be getting married.

A trope that shows up almost every time is that the conflict comes when the main character is supposed to marry someone other than the one they want. WHY IS THAT A STORY? Why can’t these characters just be real people and call it off? Why do they need to put the other person through so much shit, just in case the other romance doesn’t work out?

I’m glad I saw this since I’ve seen the cover forever but the idea that anyone would be invested in these people’s stories seems like a joke.

THE WEDDING PLANNER (2001)

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Elizabeth

Over the years, I’ve spent a good amount of time defending Matthew McConaughey and his acting. It started when I was way younger and thought he was one of the best looking and well-built guys on the planet. And then in middle school I read A Time To Kill, which made me see the movie, which made me really fall in love with McConaughey because he was just so good in it. I usually cited that and Contact as examples whenever anyone made fun of him for doing movies like Sahara, Failure to Launch, or How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days. Or . . . The Wedding Planner.

Although I would be lying if I said I hated this movie when I first saw it. I was thirteen when I saw it in theaters, and I’m starting to think around thirteen and female is the true target audience for romantic comedies (especially PG-13 ones). I thought Mary (Jennifer Lopez) was sort of annoying, but mostly cute and charming. I thought Eddie (McConaughey) was kind of a jerk, but mostly cute and charming (and hunky). And watching it again now, all of that is still sort of true. There are definitely worse and more offensive romantic comedies. Buuuuut that doesn’t really make The Wedding Planner a good movie.

Mary is the wedding planner in question. She is Italian-American, despite Jennifer Lopez being arguably the most famous Latina woman in the US – especially in early 2001. And her Bronx/Latina accent didn’t really help sell the whole Italian thing. She meets Eddie, a seemingly perfect pediatrician whom she hits it off with and nearly kisses. She then finds out that Eddie is the fiancé of her new client, Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). She continues to plan the wedding, and Mary and Eddie continue to love-hate each other the entire time. In the background, Mary’s father Salvatore (Alex Rocco) is extremely concerned that Mary is in her thirties (Lopez was 31 when this was filmed) and unmarried. So throughout the entire movie, Salvatore tries to convince Mary to marry an Italian guy she just met, Massimo (Justin Chambers).

Unfortunately, McConaughey’s character was the hardest for me to get behind. He didn’t kiss Mary that first night they met, but he straight up went on a date with her, slow danced with her, and leaned in for a kiss. I’m not saying it’s the same thing as sleeping together, but from what we saw, he (at least emotionally) cheated on Fran that night. So we know pretty early on that he’s not that great of a guy, and is actually kind of sleazy. At first Mary and Eddie try to hate each other, but the more time they spend together, the flirtier and friendlier they get, until they’re spending time together without Fran at all. One day, while shopping for flowers, Eddie and Mary run into Mary’s ex, who cheated on her and is now married with a baby on the way. Seeing him puts Mary into a manic depressive state that ultimately results in her getting drunk. Eddie valiantly brings her drunk self back to her house, where she quickly seems much less drunk, to comfort her. To do this, Eddie decides they should roast some marshmallows.

Wedding Planner Clip 1

Can someone explain to me why anyone would ever think it would make sense to roast marshmallows over a scented candle . . . when you have a ROARING FIRE literally right behind you?

Anyway, this marshmallow date causes Eddie to essentially tell Mary that he like-likes her, but she turns him down because of, you know, being nearly married. To help cope with her loss of Eddie, Mary decides . . . to go ahead and marry Massimo! You know, the Italian guy she doesn’t really know but her dad was forcing on her and was honestly extremely annoying and childlike! She even puts on a wedding dress and goes to the court house with him. Luckily, she decides to get married on the same day of Fran and Eddie’s wedding, who realize that they probably shouldn’t be getting married. Even luckier, Mary comes to her senses and bails on her ridiculous plan. All so she and Eddie can end up together! Fuck you, Fran!

So yeah, like an odd number of romantic comedies, the main relationship here is based on lies and cheating. And McConaughey is charming – but almost to the point of being creepy once we realize he’s not all that great and nice. So is this the worst movie ever? No . . . but really not that great.

Christopher

When I think of this movie I think of it playing on TBS and I think of my sister watching it a lot when we were younger. Watching this movie now, it’s hard to think that that’s the same Matthew McConaughey from True Detective. The thing that stays the same though is how I feel about wedding movies and the people in them. Aren’t weddings just a small event that kicks off being with the person that you love for the rest of your life? In movie like this it’s never about that, it’s just about the event, a wedding.

In all of these films there is always someone, generally a lady since apparently the wedding day never has anything to do with the man, who obsesses over having the perfect wedding but never really seems to care about who they want to marry, just that they need to marry to have the party. It seems so stressful and not that fun.

This movie was just way too boring to put to much effort into. I’m falling asleep justjjjjjjjjs jksd

LEGALLY BLONDE (2001)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I think Legally Blonde is severely underrated. It was such a popular movie that I’m sure most people who haven’t seen it only know what saw in the trailers that played repeatedly. And those trailers pretty much highlighted one aspect of the movie: blond girl goes to Harvard! Hilarious!

Because really, Legally Blonde is much more powerful than that. Yes, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is rich and gorgeous. But it’s still a movie about acceptance, and really more than anything having the confidence to come into your own. Post-undergrad Elle thinks her boyfriend, Warren (Matthew Davis), is going to propose to her but he dumps her instead because he needs someone “more serious.” And it sucks, because Elle loves him, and anyone who has been in a relationship where their love was completely unappreciated can feel the pain that would come with getting dumped when you truly thought you were getting proposed to. And, like many a 22 year old, Elle decides it’s a good idea to attend Harvard Law School, where Warren is going, to win him back. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say I’ve been in relationships where I thought of every possible way to “get him back” and would have, at certain times, done anything. So even though Elle is very outwardly confident and outgoing, uprooting her whole life just to follow a guy who’s not even nice to her shows her vulnerability and true lack of confidence.

Everyone at Harvard thinks she’s stupid. I graduated from an art school as a Writing major and I can’t do anything visual arts related with any kind of skill, which doesn’t exactly make you popular at art school. Particularly in my freshman year, once my lack of visual skills was apparent (usually within the first class), most of my classmates would not give a shit about me. It was like it meant I wasn’t interesting enough to talk to or worthy of their time or something. So when everyone treats Elle like shit because they think she’s stupid (even though she got into the same school they did), it felt very real to me, despite Elle’s looks. She befriends a local manicurist, Paulette (Jennifer Coolidge), who is the first person in Cambridge to treat Elle like she’s a person worth even looking at. Paulette is incredibly shy and has next to no self-esteem, which Elle continually helps her with. But Elle isn’t taking pity on Paulette, she’s helping her but also helping herself. Elle is the kind of character that wants to help and gets genuine joy from it, so everytime she helps Paulette she’s really giving her own self-esteem a boost, too.

When Elle realizes she “will never be good enough” for Warren, she starts excelling in school. When she gets an internship at a prestigious law firm, she very slowly starts to become more accepted by her peers. But when she wins the case completely on her own, it finally comes full circle. By the end of the movie, Elle has graduated, long forgotten about Warren, has friends, and a healthy relationship. It’s extremely satisfying to see. Elle in the beginning makes sense, but when you see Elle in the end she truly has grown and become a better person.

What I like most about Legally Blonde is the fact that Elle is never mean. She sticks up for people she doesn’t know, she’s nice to people even when they’re mean to her face, and only when she’s tricked into wearing a costume at a non-costume party does she call someone a bitch (and it’s warranted, come on). She also never changes everything about herself, even if that would have made so many things easier. Elle wins her big case by combining what she’s learned in law school with what she knows just from being herself (she catches a witness lying once she realizes that the witness said she showered right after a perm). I just love it and I think that Elle is a deceptively good role model for women and a just a great character all around.

Christopher

When I think of this movie I think of TBS. I remember this being played on that channel non-stop. I never really had any desire to watch it. I thought it would just be cheesy and lack any kind of humor it might think it has. However, I really liked it and it was solely due to Reese Witherspoon. She did a great job acting and her character was fantastic. She was smart and likable. It’s terrible how female characters are represented in movies so often. I think many could take a hint from Legally Blonde on how to do it well. The whole premise of the movie was pretty great and funny. Not what I was expecting at all.

ON THE LINE (2001)

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Elizabeth

I knew On the Line was going to be bad because I remember when it came out and I had zero interest in seeing it then, even though it came out in 2001 at a time when I was prettyyyyyyyyyy obsessed with *NSync. If you don’t already know, On the Line stars Lance Bass and co-stars Joey Fatone, two members of *NSync. And I really loved Lance Bass. And despite all that, when it came out, I did not want to see it. Was I smarter as a 13 year old than I am now? Hmmm . . .

But I will say, On the Line was sort of great to watch because it’s so pathetically terrible. Sammy Sosa is also in it, as himself, which is bizarre (granted he only has one line, but still). The characters are borderline retarded, there is no chemistry between anyone (except maybe Lance and Joey), the characters are mean . . . it’s just weird.

I do think this is worth watching though, because it’s such a weird time capsule of 2001. It’s sort of bizarre.

Christopher

I had no idea this movie ever existed. If I had known there was kind of an NSync movie, I would of wanted to watch it far before now, probably the same weekend Elizabeth and I watched Spice World.

This movie is super dumb. It’s hard to not notice the main characters’ lack of chemistry with the love interest. It’s hard to ignore Joey being a moron and farting all over the place. It’s hard to remember most of this movie actually.

On The Line was mostly boring but I think it’s worth checking out. If nothing else you can listen to a How Did This Get Made episode after!

GLITTER (2001)

LOOK AT ALL THAT GLITTERRRRRR

Christopher

Glitter is a film I have been trying to watch for some time and I finally got the chance to live my dreams! The film is a basic story of pop star fame but my favorite part is that Mariah Carey is the most famous person in it? It was almost (definitely) like she didn’t want anyone bigger than her on set. The only other star even close, and I’m sure not as big as he is today was Terrence Howard, who plays a sleazy producer. The main love interest is played by Max Beesly who you might know from Torque?…maybe? This idea that it truly was a bunch of Everyday Joes with Mariah Carey in the mix was extremely distracting. The other distracting part of this film was the sliver streak. In I believe every scene, Mariah Carey, has a silver streak on her body? It changes spots but it’s always there. Elizabeth and I tried to look up why but we were unsuccessful so I am going to start the rumor right here that it has to do with her religion that is a mix of 80s fashion with the belief that aliens are our saviours. Mariah Carey is worshipping her alien gods in each scene through the act of painting a silver steak on her torso.

Now of course we did not go into this hoping it was good, more so the exact opposite, but it was only mildly entertaining, so I would not say this is a must-see. Of course I am still trying to get off my Simply Irresistible high so that might have something to do with it.

Elizabeth

The pointlessness of Glitter is mind-blowing. When reading a script like this and one asks oneself, “Why do we need to tell this story?” and one does not have an answer, I would like to think that the script would stop there. But, of course, if it did, we wouldn’t have masterpieces of misfortune like Glitter.

The story of Glitter is nothing special, except that it’s just kind of stupid: a mother gives up her young daughter because the mother falls asleep with a lit cigarette and burns down their house. It’s implied that the mother is an addict of some kind, but other than cigarettes, there’s no evidence that she’s addicted to anything. So the girl (and her kitten) goes to some kind of orphanage where she meets two scrappy, racially ambiguous friends that latch onto her forever.

The story lurches forward to 1983, and if they didn’t have that time stamp on the screen, you would never, ever know it’s the 80’s. I would think the 80’s would be one of the easiest and most fun decades to costume a movie for, especially a movie that takes place so much in dance clubs. Instead, everyone, throughout the whole movie, is dressed like it’s 1997. Which begs the question: why the hell did this movie take place in the 80’s and not the 90’s? Or just present day? Was the real-life Mariah Carey too omnipresent in the 90’s to where her fictional counterpart couldn’t possibly inhabit the same era? Or were the filmmakers just fucking lazy? I think we all know the answer.

Another weird problem the movie has: Billie (sometimes spelled Billy), played by Mariah Carey, gets increasingly famous as the movie goes on: a number one single, performing at award shows, and finally selling out Madison Square Garden. Yet, her life does not change at all. No one recognizes her on the streets, she doesn’t have an entourage beyond her producer boyfriend, Dice (Max Beesley) and her label-appointed publicists, and she and Dice still live in the same apartment, with no changes, until Billie/Billy moves out (with her now-cat, the real star of the film) and back in with her racially ambiguous orphan friends and their shitty apartment. Does all of this show how grounded Billie/Billy is, that she is the same person despite mass amounts of fame and fortune? Or does it show, again, just how lazy the filmmakers were? The answer is as clear as the silver streak of paint Billie/Billy always has on some part of her body for some unexplained, not even addressed, reason. (True.)