January 24th, 2012

what?

How NOT to Tell a Fairy Tale Story

I'm still in allergy la-la land. It's supposed to rain tonight, so if it is all the mountain cedar that got blown in from west Texas, I should feel better tomorrow. If it's a cold, maybe it will have run its course by then. I may have to start wearing a hazmat suit to direct the children's choir. Supposedly, after the first year or so of working with kids, you stop getting sick so often because you've built up an immunity to all the germs they spread around. I'm actually worse in my second year. As much as I enjoy working with the kids, I may have to reconsider it if it keeps making me sick.

Last night, since I wasn't feeling up to much of anything else, I decided to watch Red Riding Hood on one of the HBO channels. I hadn't heard great things about it (most of the reviews considered it a Twilight take on fairy tales), but I'm on a bit of a fairy tale kick lately, and there wasn't anything else on, so I gave it a shot, and I discovered The Movie So Bad That HBO (or maybe the satellite) Attempted Suicide Rather Than Show It. About halfway through the movie, the picture started pixilating badly, sometimes blacking out entirely or wobbling. At first, I thought I was losing yet another converter box that wasn't able to unscramble the signal, but all the other HBO channels seemed to be working fine. It was just this one movie, and it was to irritating to watch that way, so I gave up (and possibly preserved my sanity).

This was essentially a SyFy Saturday night movie, with bonus teen love triangle. We had the quasi-medieval setting, using what looked like the infamous Ye Olde Renn Faire Village set from all the quasi-medieval worlds ever visited on the Stargate series. We had attractive young people carved from wooden planks in the lead roles, capable Canadian actors with science fiction pedigrees in the supporting roles (Michael Hogan from Battlestar Galactica and Michael Shanks from SG-1 -- making me feel very old because he's actually a bit younger than I am and was playing the father of one of the love interests), and an acclaimed British actor slumming it in a highly promoted cameo role while feasting on the scenery. We had bad CGI monsters that only pop up occasionally because of budgetary reasons, so most of the movie is people acting scared of the monsters that might be out there. And we had absolutely horrible dialogue that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be hip and modern or quaintly old-fashioned, so that only the Canadian pros with extensive science fiction experience and the slumming British actor feasting on the scenery could pull it off with any aplomb. The carved wooden puppets playing the young people didn't stand a chance.

I think the SyFy Saturday night movie would have trimmed out the love triangle because it had very little to do with the plot and, besides, who needs character development when there are monsters? Not that the triangle really added any character development or even was a real "triangle." Our "Red" was in love with the brooding loner who had a knack for getting her to break the rules, but her family was betrothing her to the guy with a steady job who came from a well-off family. Her plan to run away with McBroody was foiled by a wolf attack on the village. Note to filmmakers: when casting for the two points on a love triangle, it's a good idea to get actors that the viewers can actually tell apart. Both were sort of low-rent Robert Pattinson types with similar coloring, who wore similar clothes and who had both made copious use of Ye Olde Hair Gelle (for that artfully tousled, semi-spiky look that was very in during the Middle Ages). When "Red" was upset about the betrothal, I couldn't figure out why she was upset because it looked to me that she was being made to marry the guy we'd just seen her running around the woods with. It took me a while to realize there were actually two different guys. I say if you can't tell them apart, go for the one with the job.

Then there was the rave scene. Seriously, they're celebrating killing what they think is the wolf that's been terrorizing the village (but obviously isn't because there's still an hour to go) by holding a rave, in which the kids dance together in what looks a lot like the dancing in the episode of Parks and Recreation where everyone got drunk on "Snake Juice" at the Snakehole Lounge and Ann and Leslie were fighting while doing very aggressive dancing with whatever guy they could drag to the dance floor. Only this movie wasn't supposed to be funny. Meanwhile, Ye Olde Village Bande is playing modern-sounding goth-lite rock on their authentic period instruments. Even aside from the dance scene, this movie had to have the most jarringly anachronistic score since Alan Parsons did the soundtrack for Ladyhawke (I love Alan Parsons' music outside of movies, but I would love a recut of that film with a more appropriate soundtrack because the music nearly ruins it).

Unfortunately, HBO started throwing up right when Gary Oldman showed up (maybe he was gnawing on the pixels instead of the scenery), so I'm sure I missed the really epic awfulness. I bet the girl ended up with the brooding outsider because that's how this sort of thing goes. I hope the other one didn't get killed because I liked him better.

And I still want to write a SyFy Saturday night fantasy movie. Maybe if I throw in a teen love triangle, I could get it on the big screen!