Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A very, very bad movie ...

I have the sort of sense of humor that makes me believe that a really funny comedy could be made about Columbine. Duck! The Carbine High Massacre is not that movie. One of the sloppiest, half-assed movies I've ever watched, Duck! mistakes making a cheap, thoughtless film about the massacre as subversive. It isn't subversive in the least: it buys wholesale the standard myths that the killers were bullied Goths, and throws in a few weak suggestions of satire about the media and high school life that don't even reach the level of sophmoric: they're freshmanish. The film is also so poorly made, with loose dialog, awful editing, shitty sound and retarded framing and blocking, that it took me four tries to get through the whole thing.

"Okay, smarty-pants, then how would you make a funny movie about Columbine?"

Almost everything worth making fun of about Columbine happened after the massacre. That's why the funniest parts (I'm using that reletively) of Duck! happen at the end: a newscaster proclaims it "exciting ... I mean tragic" and one student's dying moment is endlessly looped on the news.

But "the media is bloodthirsty" is such a "Level One" form of satire ... it's the joke that ruined Natural Born Killers. The truth that needs to be dug out is that the media is bloodthirsty because we are. So, yes, mock everyone who tried to come up with a cause for the killing like Marilyn Manson, bullies or a lack of Ten Commandments in schools. But try to show some imagination.

A non-linear form would be best. Cut between the investigation and all of the hand-wringing and the massacre.

What's funny about the massacre. A point brought up by writer Dave Cullen (although I should stress that he never, ever suggested that he found it funny): while the outside world was shocked and staggered by what the killers did, they died failures. Their plan was to kill hundreds of students. They killed thirteen. So they peevishly killed themselves, doomed to be remembered as school shooters instead of the mass murderers they wanted to be.

Doesn't sound like a knee-slapper, does it? Well, comedy is hard. It's a lesson the makers of Duck ought to learn.

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