I have on three separate occasions in the past week, been invited to go to the movies, and (as a result of recent events) had the time to spare. And on each of these three occasions I did not end up going to said movies, because there was literally nothing to see. Now I could wax poetic on why I would never ever go see Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Definitely, Maybe, or Hannah Montana in 3D – but I suppose that anyone who knows me (or at least knows me to the extent they’ve either read my previous pieces or skimmed my intentionally Spartan profile) will understand that the reasons are obvious, and the humor derived therefrom would be intellectually lazy and cheap. Seeing, however, as I am still in the target demographic for the latest hype-fest, CGI effects-laden action thriller Jumper (18-34 year old males), and how two of the three times I was invited out I was invited to see that particular movie, I thought I’d describe precisely why I will not go to see it. This, despite the fact that I’d go to see Samuel L. Jackson in just about anything, solely on the off-chance that he might mutter some version of "... and you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!" You see, I hate Hayden Christensen.
It’s not that I dislike his look or that I’m jealous. Believe me, I don’t want to be Mr. Christensen (It's not that I'm not prone to jealousy, I do, at times, want to be John Cusack, but that’s a topic for later). My hatred stems from two simple reasons: (1) the DeCaprio effect and (2) he killed Star Wars.
The DeCaprio effect. As a member of media generation, I expect my stories to have a certain level of believability to them – which is not exactly what it may sound like. It’s not that I need my stories to be plausible, I don’t. It’s escapism, for God’s sake, and I know damned well that Tom Cruise didn’t pull through an inverted 4G inverted dive one meter above a MiG-28 and just as well that the Fantastic Four didn’t get superpowers by flying their spaceship through a "storm of cosmic rays"! I mean that I need to be able to believe in the characters. It’s why Michael Keaton and Christian Bale are believable as the Batman (they’re angry enough), why John Travolta and the aforementioned Mr. Jackson are believable as criminal strong-arms (they’re crazy enough) and why Sean Connery’s Scottish brogue is believable as an English accent in any number of Bond flicks (he’s cool enough). On some level I need to believe that a leading man is just that: a leader. I haven’t seen Leonardo DeCaprio in a film since Titanic – which he single-handedly almost ruined for me (this, coincidentally, may also have been the last “chick flick” that I saw without a date and the quid pro quo promise of some seriously good-lovin’ afterwards). Leo is about as masculine as a Juicy Couture sweatsuit. Seriously. It’s not that he needs to be all beefed up and muscled out, or that he doesn’t kill enough stuff in his flicks, neither of those have or will save him from my disdain. He’s just one of those unfortunate blokes who is quite simply more woman than man. Honestly, he’s about as rough as a cashmere blanket. If there were a fight between L. D. and the Snuggle teddy bear, I’d take the bear… in the first round and by knockout. His attempts at rage come across as petulance, and his attempts at romance look like the 15 year old greaseball trying to get lucky with your favorite niece. What worse, Hollywood (in an attempt to attract a larger female audience, perhaps?) keeps foisting these “Shiela”s onto me as leading men: James Marsden, Ryan Reynolds, and now, Hayden Christensen. Listen up, movie execs: I’M NOT BUYING. I don’t care how many Jessica Albas you package them with, how much marketing money you spend, or how good the special effects are; if you cast one of these “leading ladies” as a leading man – I’m going to download a pirated copy of your movie and hand it out to the high school kids near my house. Ok?!
Killing Star Wars. Okay, I’m a member of the generation which both feverishly demanded and was destined to be disappointed by the Star Wars “prequel trilogy”, I know that. There was no way that any movie could live up the scale which we had built up the original three movies to in our heads. We saw them when we were 8, 12, 14, etc… and they were a seminal part of our childhood – which always seems smaller when we revisit it years later. (Ever been back to your high school more than ten years after graduating and thought: wasn’t this bigger?!) It’s why I will always think Mark Hamil is cool, and that Carrie Fischer is sexy (despite the fact that both conclusions seem dubious now). But beyond that, I needed Darth Vader to be deeply, purely, and terribly evil. Little boys need black cowboy hats as much as they need the white ones. They need indians for their cowboys, and robbers for their cops. I don’t need Darth Vader to be an otherwise good guy with some mommy issues. NO! I need him to be bad. Ruthless bad. I need him to be a bad seed with a bad streak which ultimately consumes him. Hayden Christensen is about as evil as a My Pretty Pony collection. Seriously, this kid looks like they ripped him straight from the pages of Bop! Magazine next to the Corey Haim spread (…ah, the joys of having a sister while you’re an adolescent). More comfortable in makeup than without it – even with all the effects, he’s about as bad-ass as string cheese, Go-gurt and juice boxes (…actually, come to think of it, that would have been a pretty kick-ass lunch when I was 10…). I could have suffered the disaster that was Jar-Jar Binks, and Samuel L. Jackson’s purple lightsaber if I could have had some evil to balance it against. Sure, the Emperor was there – but it was always, truly, about the Vader: the mask, the cape, that wonderfully ominous breathing (come on, who amongst us has imitated that at least once?). I, honestly, expected Hayden to start whining at any moment in the movie, and the dialogue that was supposed to seem hardened and stoic, seemed forced, affected and silly. It was like having Emilio Estevez play Judd Nelson’s character in “The Breakfast Club”, or having Templeton Peck captain the A-Team… it just doesn’t work. Listen, the pretty boy or the “face man” is there to be just that. Star Wars didn’t need a better hero, it needed a darker evil for the heroes to overcome – and H.C. just wasn’t even close.
Okay, so I’ve been advised that every negative needs a positive (or some such blather that life coaches are always firing at me). As a result, I don’t want to simply rant on and on without advising on some similar, related matter which I do like. So here we go: I love John Cusack. Not in the “I’d like to marry him” way, but more in the creepy sort of “Being John Malkovich” way where I’d like to be him. I imagine, in my best moments, that I’m a little like him. I would seriously consider seeing The Notebook, P.S., I Love You, and 29 Dresses, consecutively, if John Cusack starred in them. I’m not joking. I know this because I paid to see both Serendipity and High Fidelity and would pay to seem them again. Think about how Hayden would have been in those flicks: disastrous, anybody? I think John Cusack deserves some serious consideration to be the next James Bond (once we inevitably tire of Dan Craig). "Why?" you ask. He’s not particularly big, tough, or strong. He’s usually clean-shaven and less-than-sharply dressed. But he’s enough of all of us real guys that we’d buy him a beer, and enough cooler and badder than us to make us take his advice on just about anything. Don’t think he’s bad enough? I submit Grosse Pointe Blank, where he killed a guy with a ballpoint pen… and for God’s sake, that was a comedy! He’s enough of an underdog that I always want to root for him and enough of a favorite to be a really good bet. He knows just the right thing to say, and gets it out of his mouth about eighty percent of the time – which is enough more than me to be inspirational and enough less than perfect for me not to want to kick his ass. I could watch Better Off Dead a hundred times, and really never get tired of it (and I, incidentally, finally found the great song from that school dance scene – One Way Love, by E.G. Daly, if you’re interested). I truthfully believe that the most romantic thing that anyone could ever do is to stand outside your girl’s place in trenchcoat with a boombox over your head playing Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes at max volume. I’d follow John up a hill into enemy fire, and let him call touch football plays in the dirt. He’s the kind of believable that I’ve always wanted in my heroes… and I hope he keeps making movies so that I can someday take my son to the theater and not spend the whole ride home talking him out of eyeliner, skin cream and hair dye.
Despite all the hype, the ridiculously hot girl (who spends at least one scene soaking wet – nice touch, director guy), and the presence of Samuel Jackson with an even worse hairdo than he had in Star Wars – I’m not going to see Jumper… but I may consider seeing the sequel, provided that this time an ageless Sam Jackson stars alongside an older (and markedly cooler) main character played by that Lloyd Dobbler guy.