Tuesday, July 5, 2016

[Movie] Priceless

Short Version: It's a movie that's the Pretty Woman for gold diggers.  It's a Comedy.  Everyone lives happily ever after. 

Medium Version: A woman whose whole existence seems to move from one rich gent to the other eventually goes too far when she flirts with a hapless member of the hotel staff right in front of her current patron; causing her too lose everything.  Mr. Hapless feels guilty and also has no meaningful life on his own so he spends his life savings buying her things only to be seconds away from prison.  Another woman uses him as a boy toy, and through a series of fortunate events, they end up together at the end.

Verbose: So, I've discovered that I like French Comedy.  Maybe I need to go back and see Jerry Lewis again to see if its something I appreciate.  I think the resemblance between Pretty Woman and this for me is interesting; but on multiple levels.  I think the author of the script clearly had to have met this kind of person, because the shallow dishpan level mentality of using another human being (often equally shallow) who seem to just want as much pretty crap as they can get or who believes that by being around a young person by proxy they will be staving off death.  It's actually really really morbid, but once you see it, you can't unsee it and its echoed in the beaches around Miami or in any number of works of fiction.  It's not just about an elderly person 'purchasing' a younger person for sex, but the very definition of toxic codependency.

There are a few things that bother me about the story though.  Amelee gets away with a lot of what it does with a minimum of coincidences, but at the same time its ABOUT fate.  Strong writing (ie Pixar) uses coincidence to make life difficult for their protagonists, never solving it for them.  Mr Hapless has at least three incidents where he is helped by luck.  The first one makes sense, since mistaken identity is going to occur on a regular basis, the second one is a bit of a stretch since how many regular human beings randomly have older people suddenly willing to pay their bill? It does give a second act to what would have otherwise been an interesting if tragic short film.  But the third one in which the first electric gigalo just happened to be there for Mr Hapless to woo for Hooker with a Heart of Gold?

I don't buy it.  The truth is, they didn't need him.  It's like the unfortunate experience I had cowriting my fourth novel in which we had to reuse EVERY character no matter how pointless in the 2nd act.  I put WAY too many characters into my third novel, but the opposite is just as much of problem.  Comedy allows for a certain number of coincidences to make a plot interesting and surrealistic or whimsical comedy does that more.  The first two work; the third doesn't, but it is presented as a complication rather than helping things a long, so perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

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