Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

9/21/1999: Short Takes: The Matrix, Analyze This, and Office Space (FLASHBACKS)

Movies, movies everywhere – and no time to review them. Let’s just look at movies on video this week, OK?

The Matrix: In my initial review, I mentioned how this film – true action insanity that’s like the best John Carpenter film John Carpenter never made – has fun with puns, like the computer “bugs.” (Huh huh, heh heh, cool.)

Here’s another of those puns: Remember Carrie Anne-Moss? She was the striking actress – it’s for people like her that they coined the term “striking” – who played freedom fighter Trinity.

The pun? In this film, she’s basically a more beautiful version of Keanu Reeves.

Analyze This: Even if nothing else in this funny film had worked, it would’ve been worthwhile because it shows someone remembered: Robert DeNiro can be funny! A photo of him, where he’s just shrugging with a “whadduya gonna do” grin at the big mob meeting at the end of the film, now hangs at my desk. It makes me smile.

Maybe the plot-motivated stuff (the authorities trying to bust the mob men) isn’t all that funny, because it’s just functional as it moves the movie along, but DeNiro and Billy Crystal make up for it.

Analyze also makes me ask, no, demand, this: put Lisa Kudrow in a drama*! Yes, she’s built her career on playing ditzes in comedies, but her best moments in Analyze This are her being mad-as-hell instead of being funny.

And the title is cool, too.

Office Space: Mike Judge rules. I practically gulp air while laughing at Beavis and Butt-Head, and King of the Hill is gratifyingly askew, funny in a low-key way but which still reminds us that Hill was co-created by a Simpsons producer.

Here, Judge makes his live-action debut directing and writing a spoof on work. Ron Livingston of Swingers is the Everyman at the center of the film; he does programming at a business whose corporate logo is a square peg in a round hole (I’m not kidding), and he hates his job until he decides simply not to do it. Not that he quits or anything; he just shows up each day and does nothing productive.

And gets promoted.

No, I won’t say why. But as always with Judge, the humor is really in the details (even in something as broad and vulgar as Beavis and Butt-Head). There’s a small gag with a phone, for instance, where the phone does something that I don’t think a phone can do.

And in keeping with Judge’s work on things like Hill, Office Space has the feel of a low-key cartoon; there’s Stephen Root as the walking cartoon character Milton, who Judge created for animated skits for Saturday Night Live. Here he’s this huge, squat man with a tiny voice who always looks lost, and who gets shuffled from desk to desk to help the company (but not him) be more efficient.

The nicest Office Space moment for me isn’t even the funniest: Livingston having a revelation about his life that leads to his aggressive slacking. You simply see something seem to change in his eyes, and he slowly (slowly, slowly) smiles a quietly blissful smile.

* Which has happened a few times, thank goodness: Wonderland with Val Kilmer comes to mind...
Tags: film reviews, flashbacks

  • Meat-Ghost

    Meat-Ghost by Christopher Walsh, 11/13/2023 Becoming a Meat-Ghost: unseen, untracked, You and UnYou, seemingly There and Not-There at once, a…

  • A short, short poem

    Mea Culpa by Christopher Walsh, 6/23/2023 I used to care about that? Really? Really? …really?

  • A poem, thinking of flames

    From a Coast by Christopher Walsh, 2/19/2023-3/15/2023 A night, a beach, a fire: We pull in from larger to smaller to you. The sky and the…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.