Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Garfield performs "graceful pirouettes?"

Probably bored after years of heaping lukewarm praise onto inane Hollywood pablum, Roger Ebert recently wrote this reveiw of Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties in the character of Garfield himself. This isn’t exactly a film critic first, as Leonard Maltin obviously channels Odie while updating his Movie Guide each year. Wouldn't you know though, in Ebert’s hands, Garfield’s tone strikingly resembles that of a certain slightly haughty movie critic; one who seems more interested in zinging Ebert’s “colleague” Richard Roeper (surely a spiritual cousin of Jon Arbuckle) than pursuing familiar interests like eating lasagna, sticking to car windows via protruding suction cups, and, uhm… practicing denial?

On a personal note, however, this particular review brought back some bad memories for me. Whilst reading it I flashed back to a traumatic childhood experience viewing a film starring another wisecracking feline adventurer -- Heathcliff: the Movie. I was seven when I was taken to see this cinematic adaptation of a show my not-too-picky young self often watched on late afternoons. Was I particularly excited beforehand? I can't recall, nor can I recall many details about the Heathcliff cartoon itself. I seem to remember Heathcliff transforming into a giant tape deck and being interviewed by Merv Griffin a lot, but I may be getting my shows mixed up here. The point is, once the movie began it quickly became apparent that it was nothing more than a mishmash of old episodes I had already seen on tv, linked together by a brief, tossed-off narrative framing device. As the film wore on I sat there in shock; angry, perplexed and a little queasy (although queasiness wasn't uncommon for me in those days, I admit). How could the Heathcliff producers do this? How could they be such cynical hacks as to charge kids' hardworking parents for material that had already aired repeatedly on free tv? Did they think that sheltered, deathly pale children like me who had nothing better to do than watch their shitty cartoon wouldn't notice? Or care?!? Well, the experience taught me a bitter lesson about corporate culture and left me a severely disillusioned seven-year-old. The very next day I dropped out of grade school, firebombed my first cop car and started freebasing cocaine. Darkness enveloped me and I slipped into an unrelenting downward spiral, finally bottoming out in my teens when I found myself a bloated, drug-addled vagabond, violently wandering the deep south in Cormac McCarthy-esque fashion and only occasionally finding honest work as a third-rate Dusty Rhodes impersonator. It was a long, hard climb back to health and prosperity from that hellish nadir but somehow I made it. So screw you, Heathcliff. To paraphrase Emily Bronte, my hatred for you is like the eternal blog beneath: a source of little visible delight, and apparently hard for some of my readers to look at without highlighting.

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