Saturday, March 17, 2007

Talladega Nights

Last night we decided to get a movie, and the guy decided on Talladega Nights. The movie is OK if you like your comedy embarrassingly stupid and crude, but it did not go over well with our guy. The first problem was the kids in the movie swearing. Our guy knows that kids are not allowed to swear and it upsets him greatly to see it. He had a similar reaction watching bits of The Squid and The Whale. It brought him to tears to see it, but when we suggested turning it off and reading a book instead, he insisted we keep going. Next there were people shouting and being mean to each other for no particular reason -- another near melt down, another offer to stop, and another insistence that we keep going. Then came the scene where Will Ferrell believes he is on fire but, as our guy loudly pointed out, "He is not on fire!" Shortly after this I has the audacity to laugh at something, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. A major crying jag ensured and the grownups insisted that the movie was over, because there no point watching something that makes you miserable. Our guy, had different ideas. "I need ten minutes to clam down," he told us. "Don't turn it off and don't watch it, just leave it paused. I'm coming back." And with that he went to his room.

We imagined that the "ten minutes" business was really just a graceful exit line, but at the appointed time he was back, fully composed -- smiling even -- and ready to watch the rest. Plot-wise, things get better and more closely approach social norms in second half of the movie, so there were not many more complaints from the peanut gallery and his final judgment was "pretty good."

My wife and I speculated about what was going on. This is the type of reaction that is usually reserved for injustice (either on the screen or in books). It occurred to us that he was upset by the fact that the film was absurd and things did not follow in an orderly manner. This morning, however, when I talked it over with him and tried to explain what "absurd" means, I found myself using as an example the YouTube Poop videos which he loves to both watch and create. These videos take absurdity to the extreme, but he loves it. So I guess it's just social rules, and not rules of narrative logic, that he cannot stand to see broken.

All in all, it was one of those wish-we-hadn't-but-glad-we-did events. On one had, it was stressful for everyone, but on the other hand, he recognized his level of disregulation for what it was and managed to turn it around with style. That was the first time he has ever told us that he needs time to clam down -- it's usually the other way around. My guess is that it was an opportunity to take a step forward.

No comments: