Yesterday, I was taking a break from working on a video project and watching some music videos on VH1 Classic, while eating a hot dog. A crappy video from Christopher Cross came on, so I started browsing the on-screen guide to see what I could be watching if I wasn't alternately hatin' on Cross while singing along to "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)". I got to HBO and saw a movie I'd never heard of, so I did what I always do -- click "INFO" do find out what it is.
Standard Sunday-afternoon fare, a romantic movie for the ladies to enjoy while guys watch sports or something else cool. But something caught my eye. The lead actress shared her name with someone I'd met a week before in Pittsburgh. I laughed out loud at the coincidence, and kept going through the guide until Cross was done singing and a cool video came on -- in this case, INXS.
But my mind kept wandering back to that movie on HBO. Never in my life had I come across a movie starring an actor/actress with the same name as a person I know. I mean, if there was ever a movie starring a dude named Max Univers, it could be the worst movie ever -- for instance, a Broadway Showtunes version of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor -- and it would still be my favorite movie ever, purely because my name would be in the credits. So part of me wanted to watch a snippet of the movie, just to see what it was, if the actress was hot, etc. But I resisted the urge, and took a nap on the couch just as a Hall & Oates video came on.
Sunday night I watched some fantastic fireworks from my deck -- a homemade show fired from a boat on the lake a block from my backyard -- and I have to tell you, it was as good as any commercial or municipally funded show I've ever seen. I mean, it lasted for a half hour! Good stuff. If you saw fireworks in the vicinity of 144th and Maple, it was this one, from the lake in my subdevelopment. Good stuff. Sitting by myself, I wandered out and watched with my neighbors. Nothing lamer than having to go "that one was awesome!" and "dude, that was gnarly!" out loud to no one but yourself.
After the fireworks, I headed to my basement where the grand scheme was to watch a movie. There's this brilliant thing called "HBO On Demand" where you can watch, for free, all the movies on HBO that month any time you want. Searching through my choices, lo and behold, what comes up? That same movie starring the actress with the familiar name. I was not able to say no. Had to watch.
Here's the HBO synopsis of the movie.
THE GIRL IN THE CAFE
He's a shy civil servant working for the British delegation to the 2005 G8 Summit. She's an alluring young woman he meets at a cafe--and invites to the Summit on a whim. Together, this unlikely couple might just change history. From award-winning screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love, Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) comes this funny, poignant love story that delivers a powerful humanitarian message. Bill Nighy stars as the lonely civil servant Lawrence whose chance meeting with the mysterious Gina (Kelly Macdonald) results in a life-changing relationship. When Lawrence impetuously invites Gina to join him at the Summit, their newfound attraction is put to the test by an emotional conflict between personal conviction and professional obligation. Ken Stott, Anton Lesser and Corin Redgrave co-star. Directed by David Yates. Widescreen HDTV. Romance. TV14, ADULT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE, BRIEF NUDITY.
That's the double whammy, ain't it? Chick flick wrapped into a nice political activist storyline sandwich. Written by the screenwriter of two certified chick flicks. And I sat down to watch it.
Twenty minutes in, I should have been savvy enough to say "Hey, you've determined what this movie is, and that the actress is indeed hot. So turn it over to SportsCenter already." But instead I was intrigued by the mismatched characters -- the stiff old dude and the just-paroled outspoken young chick. It was a hilarious series of events. Brits talking in heavy british accents. Meeting the girl at the cafe. Calling for three dates in one day. Then inviting her to Iceland to the G8 conference with him at the end of the day. Only to discover they would be sharing a room. And the horror of deciding who got the bed and who got the couch.
Old Stiff Dude, meet cute ex-felon girl.
At the 30 minute mark, the remote was not even in my sights, I really wanted to see how it ended, the impossibly stiff guy and the just-out-of-prison girl.
At the 45 minute mark, the girl had just told off the Prime Ministers of two European nations at dinner because they weren't doing enough to solve poverty in Africa at the meetings earlier that day, something you don't often see, even in a chick flick.
At the 50 minute mark, on the third night in Iceland, she took her shirt off and climbed into bed with the old guy. Actual frontal nudity, in a chick flick. God I love HBO. Incidentally, at this point, I could tell you how this ends. Stiff old guy married to his job meets impetuous unpredictable young woman. Young woman teaches old dude to lighten up. Old dude quits stale government job, now that he's not so stiff anymore. Young woman leaves, saying the relationship can't work out long-term. They both share a cry. Roll credits.
Except usually when I see these predictable chick flicks, I'm sharing the couch with a girl because I'm on a date, and there's some greater purpose to watching the movie other than finding out if I'm right in predicting how it ends...but alas.
That's better than my fake-heart tattoo. Seriously.
At the one-hour mark, the Prime Minister of England flips out at the old guy -- delivering this impassioned speech about how they came to Iceland to get away from protestors and now he'd brought a protestor into the damn summit. Decent acting. Convincing anger.
At the 1:10 mark, she interrupts at a fancy banquet to interject more of her activist views. And that, along with watching the girl continue running her mouth, pissing off the leaders of no less than eight nations and nearly getting the old guy fired, sucked me into finishing the movie. When he drops her at the airport at the end, and stays behind instead of going home with her, it finally occurred to me that I was watching a romantic chick flick and not a dramatic movie. And I got really really upset.
I had just spent 93 minutes watching a made-for-cable chick flick that, while it did feature better production values than most TV movies, decent acting and a hot british chick and brief nudity, was something I should be ashamed for watching.
If it hadn't been for her name being the same as a girl I met last week in Pittsburgh, I wouldn't have even had the urge to watch even 10 seconds of it. Instead, I watched what I intended to be 5 minutes, and got suckered into watching the whole damn thing.
Now, to be fair, this movie is HBO's contribution to the recent Hollywood call-to-action before the G8 conference, with the Live 8 concert Saturday being the most visable. The movie takes place at the 2005 G8 conference. The website has the same "snapping fingers" public service ads that were showed so many times during Live 8. There was even a scene in the movie where the young woman does the finger snap routine in an attempt to convince world leaders of her point.
No matter. Its a chick flick and I got suckered into watching it by myself. There is no excuse. For this, I award myself the "Moderate version of Bob Novak with less wrinkles and more hair Deuchebag Of Liberty" award.
As I told my buddy Donovan in an email last night, "I'm so ashamed of myself I can't even bear to tell you about it. I need to go drink a High Life, watch some Spice channel and listen to Metallica, and then perhaps I'll be man enough to write about it online. I'm better than that. Dammit."
I'm better than that. I'm better than this. Dammit.
So I win the Deuchebag award. And that's one scenario where winning is really losing.