Review No. 503
TV facing south, pistol facing “North”, bullet racing north, TV euthanized.
DIRECTED BY ROB REINER. PRODUCED BY REINER AND ALAN ZWEIBEL. SCREENPLAY BY ZWEIBEL AND ANDREW SCHEINMAN, FROM ZWEIBEL’S NOVEL, “NORTH: THE TALE OF A 9-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO BECOMES A FREE AGENT AND TRAVELS THE WORLD IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT PARENTS”. NARRATED BY BRUCE WILLIS. STARRING ELIJAH WOOD (NORTH), JON LOVITZ (ARTHUR BELT), JASON ALEXANDER (NORTH’S DAD), ALAN ARKIN (JUDGE BUCKLE), DAN AYKROYD (PA TEX), KATHY BATES (ALASKAN MOM), FAITH FORD (DONNA NELSON), GRAHAM GREENE (ALASKAN DAD), JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS (NORTH’S MOM), REBA McENTIRE (MA TEX), JOHN RITTER (WARD NELSON), ABE VIGODA (ALASKAN GRANDFATHER), AND WILLIS (THE NARRATOR – EASTER BUNNY, COWBOY, TOURIST, SLEIGH DRIVER, JOEY FINGERS, FEDEX TRUCK DRIVER). ALSO STARRING MATTHEW McCURLEY, KEONE YOUNG, LAUREN TOM, BEN STEIN, ALEXANDER GODUNOV, KELLY McGILLIS, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, AND JESSE ZEIGLER. DISTRIBUTED BY COLUMBIA PICTURES ON JULY 22, 1994. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 1 HOUR, 28 MINUTES. SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.
NORTH WAS WATCHED ON JUNE 14, 2013.
“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” –Steve Martin
It’s sad when a movie feels like it was written by an eleven-year-old. It’s even sadder when the ending freely confirms that theory, and that the eleven-year-old is the main character himself. What’s saddest, the eleven-year-old in this movie is (apparently) a very well-rounded, knowledgeable, intelligent student. So by those standards, North was written by a four-year-old, which makes sense, too.
I believe that four-year-old happens to be the slowly aging title character in Rosemary’s Baby, or the son of Satan, if you will. Man simply cannot take a talented cast, lure it into a horrible screenplay, and force it into lobotomized roles. I’m referring to Jon Lovitz, Jason Alexander, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Graham Greene, Jon Ritter, Abe Vigoda, Bruce Willis, and Kelly McGillis. There may be even a few more, but these are people from the Award Winners and Other Great Actors clan. And, Lord have mercy, Elijah Wood starred in this film at the age of thirteen; Scarlett Johansson debuted here at age ten. If you recognize those names, or that they still have careers, then hold up, Samuel L. Jackson, here’s some divine intervention you’ll never believe.
Watching this movie is a pain. I managed to stay awake through the entire movie. And I’m sure if Alex didn’t have his eyelids peeled open in A Clockwork Orange, he would’ve fallen asleep in the theater. Why would I force myself into the sadism that is being looked for? I have no idea, but I feel as stupid as Rob Reiner probably does for directing this. Yes, the same Rob Reiner who directed This Is Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men…
The downside to forcing yourself to stay awake is, your mind almost erupts from the redundant thoughts it’s being infested with. If I were to narrow it down into one, single thought, I want to know how in pluperfect hell this poor excuse for writing was ever green-lighted. Last I checked, less than 50% of screenplays submitted to Hollywood producers actually make their way to the silver screen, and when a movie like North proves to us that it’s perfectly legal to disguise psychological torture as a family movie, it’s a sign of the apocalypse. And this movie was released back in ’94, so we should all feel lucky that the end of the world has not arrived.
North is a movie that starts beautifully…and then the Castle Rock Entertainment logo disappears. Seconds later, madness. A story about a kid named North (what the hell kind of a name is that?) whose parents constantly neglect him, so he gets a lawyer. He’s eleven, he has no adults around, and getting a lawyer takes him five seconds. Apparently this kid is super-intelligent, but not intelligent to know that he’s probably a lawyer…though apparently he is, okay, anyway, yes, I hate logic, too, yadda, yadda, yadda, moving on now.
So once his story, a plot to flee his parents forever in order to travel around the world and find better ones, reaches the newspapers, his parents read it and faint. Why they even reacted, I have no idea, as their carelessness was what caused North to run away. North, feeling excited (I’m assuming, since he didn’t have many facial expressions), runs off country to country. He sees the same guy in each country. Or are they different guys? I mean, they’re all played by Bruce Willis, and they seem to recognize North each time they see him, as if they were best friends with him, but they claim to have no clue who he could be. But whatever. Bruce Willis first appears in a bunny suit. As a Donnie Darko fan, I couldn’t resist shouting, “Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?” at the TV, but we all know that means he gets his chance to insult me in return for wearing “that stupid man suit.” But anyway, this scene is when you get the urge to get up and check the calendar to see if it’s hunting season, so you know whether or not it’s legal to shoot a bunny. And, in turn, euthanize your TV.