[Warning: Spoilers for James Wan’s new movie, Malignant, below.]
When I’m toying over what movie will be included in The Revue every week, I generally tend to go with my gut. And while sometimes the details — plot structure vs. game script, quality of the movie vs. quality of the game, clear cut protagonists — tend to match up pretty soundly (I’m thinking Mission: Impossible from last year’s LSU win), sometimes I just go with the thing that I think will be the stupidest and get me the most confused/angry emails (CATS!)
In my two-plus years doing The Revue, this is the first time I can remember being undecided on which movie I thought would match up well. So, for the sake of absolutely no one, I’m going to double this thing up (with a looser Revue up top).
I watched James Wan’s new movie Malignant this past weekend, and I really enjoyed it in a way that is very specific to James Wan movies. After all, how much can one truly enjoy flirting with the margins of cardiac arrest?
Apart from Wan’s general penchant for sadism and religious overtones, though, (and if that doesn’t sound like Missouri, I don’t know what does!) I have to say that I enjoyed Malignant in an even more specific way, in that I did not actually enjoy it all that much. I’m no prude, but at one point a woman does pull apart the back of her scalp to make way for a parasitic twin that’s cracking its way through her exposed skull. No thanks!
Without spending too much time on a movie that most of you will surely not be taking the time to watch — though I’d recommend it if you’ve got the stomach for it — the reason this one lingered so long on my mind as I prepped The Revue (haha, “prepped”) is that one night after watching Malignant, I found the Missouri vs. Kentucky game to be delightfully similar in that I had a wonderful time by not having all that much fun!
Mizzou vs. Kentucky stresses me out, y’all. I get that when we came to the SEC, we were supposed to be a basketball upgrade, but come on, it’s not like the football program was in shambles. And of all the teams Mizzou could find itself getting smacked by year in and year out... it’s gotta be Kentucky? That’s like being gifted an NBA expansion franchise and then spending your first decade getting punked by the Pacers. Sure, they can be good in theory, but come on... like, seriously, come on...
Still though, I can’t pretend that this year’s visit to Lexington didn’t fill me with sick glee. Watching Chris Rodriguez repeatedly and thoroughly cook Mizzou’s defense before fumbling into the end zone twice? Watching Keke Chism drop two pitch-and-catch balls like they were greased watermelons before going up and stealing a corner’s lunch money on live TV? Watching Eli Drinkwitz hoot and holler because Will Levis almost slipped on one of the banana peels he forgot to eat, and Drink thought he faked a kneel down?
This game was silly and putrid and terrible and hilarious and a little bit evil and so much fun. Let’s not do it again.
The (Actual) Revue
Silver Linings Playbook (dir. Eli Drinkwitz)
One of the inherent differences between romantic and a screwball comedies is the reverence to which you hold the very concept of love. Got something vaguely insightful to say about the power of love and how it conquers all? Somebody call mid-2000s Matthew McConaughey, there’s a rom-com getting made! Want to make a comment on the nature of love itself? Resurrect Cary Grant, because you’re making a screwball.
In Silver Lining’s Playbook, Eli Drinkwitz’s second feature of his second year at Mizzou Studios, Drinkwitz tries to walk the tightrope between the sincere, “retooling program,” and and the more self-aware attitude of, “winning now is for chumps, let’s win later instead.” The result is a mixed bag, one whose virtues will only go so far as the viewer is willing to let them.
Because surely, while there are praiseworthy moments from Silver Linings Playbook (perhaps one could call them.................................................silver linings?), there’s a whole lot of mess to sort through here. Blaze Alldredge, factoring in heavily off of his sterling debut as a Mizzou Studios talent, looked completely out of place in a comedy, getting blown off the screen by enemies more often that not. Akayleb Evans, such a welcoming presence in Badie Driver, is nearly nonexistent here despite getting ample screen time.
But, as the title suggests, there’s some goodness to take away from this as well. Eli Drinkwitz takes risks in his direction that he hasn’t dared to take yet (though this Revue-r will continue to advocate for more), while stars like Tyler Badie and Connor Bazelak continue to assert themselves as A-list talent. Working with such a young cast, too, could have been a detriment when mingling with Lexington Studios, a department notorious for little investment in film yet has seen some gains in recent box office returns. And yet, the little known players scrap their way to something adjacent to an enjoyable production!
Overall, Silver Linings Playbook still fails to get off the ground in any meaningful way, mostly because it flubs the landing pretty hard. But perhaps further down the road, once Eli Drinkwitz is making his magnum opi, we’ll look back on Silver Linings Playbook as a harbinger of good things to come. That doesn’t mean we have to watch it again, of course. But maybe the memories will be fonder once we’re done debating the genre of a production because we’re too wrapped up in how good it was.
And the M-y goes to...
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Connor Bazelak as Guy Who Answers the Call
(I was this close to making a Connor Bazelak, “Who You Gonna Call?” image, but it’s late and I don’t have the energy. Another time perhaps.)
Connor Bazelak has been a star for a little more than a year now, and we’ve all become accustomed to him filling his role with aplomb... but no usually more than that. So it was refreshing to see, when Mizzou needed some calm under pressure, Bazelak was ready and willing to settle things down. Not only that, Bazelak made some throws that he couldn’t have last year, signaling perhaps another level to his game that would be a welcome arrival to the Eli Drinkwitz playbookl
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: JC Carlies as The Guy You Meet in the First Scene and then Comes Out of Nowhere Later
You know how sometimes a movie or TV show (or even video game!) will introduce a character to you super early in the story, proceed to kick them to the curb and then later you’re thinking, “man whatever happened to that one guOH MY GOD,” and then the guy comes out of nowhere and tries to take your head off? That’s kind of like what JC Carlies is doing, but without the sudden violence.
Our familiarity with Carlies is passing at best — I only remembered that he had to serve a one-half suspension in the season opener — so the fact that he’s created 3 turnovers in 90 minutes feels like a twist in the script, and a welcome one at that!
Best Screenplay: Eli Drinkwitz (Honorary Award)
As stated above, this is more of an honorary award because Drinkwitz, for all the good work he did in this game script, failed to even try on several fourth and short opportunities, which makes me mad as hell.
EVEN STILL, this was the first time fans got to see Eli Drinkwitz dust off the box where he keeps all of his goodies, and golly gee wasn’t it a fun time? Multiple shovel passes and crazy actions, blended with a steady diet of quick outs and even some shots down the field? As Aaron Dryden pointed out on Twitter during the game, Eli was in his bag against Kentucky. Hopefully he keeps some treats in there for later this season... and adds some fourth down conversations as well!