Two Films Offer Great Examples of What Not to Do With Your Life

Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley Kiss the Bride - 2 Stars (Average) Kiss the Bride centers around four sisters from an Italian Catholic family in Rhode Island trying to work out their childhood hang-ups as three of them-all self-centered, self-absorbed and out of touch with reality-return to help their little sister get married. This flick has drugs, alcohol, bad language, some brief nudity and really heavy, dramatic fights that illustrate the frustration and stupidity of the sisters who, thankfully, finally get it together by the end of the film. Kiss the Bride is almost nonstop bickering, fighting and unpleasantness. You wonder if these people are ever going to get their act together.

I ask myself, who needs it? Am I a better person for seeing this film? Are you kidding? You would have to be on crack and standing in the middle of a train track waiting for an approaching locomotive to send you flying to think that time spend watching this film had any redeeming value. Once again we have a writer/director with the same name: Vanessa Parise. She offers proof again that being both the director and writer of a screenplay generally breeds more failure than success.

As if to outdo other writer/directors who have bombed in these dual roles, Parise takes the role of Chrissy as one of the sisters who is self-centered and self-absorbed. Maybe she should try a one-woman show so her wonderfulness could really shine through? Parise (average rating) joins a not-so-exclusive club of fellow writer/directors who have fallen short, including Peter Weir (average rating) for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Nancy Myers (average rating) for Something's Gotta Give, Thomas Bezucha (average rating) for The Family Stone, Michael McGowan (average rating) for Saint Ralph, Jared Hess (terrible rating) for Napoleon Dynamite, Robert Rodriguez (terrible rating) for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Paul Thomas Anderson (terrible rating) for Punch-Drunk Love. See Kiss the Bride only once or, better yet, not at all.

Sideways - 2 Stars (Average) Sideways focuses on two men in midlife crises taking a one-week excursion through California wine country. One is a broken down actor named Jack (Thomas Haden Church) who wants to get laid one more time before he gets married while the other is a wannabe writer and English teacher named Miles (Paul Giamatti) who masquerades as a brooding loser. They were college roommates and now Miles is slated to be Jack's best man.

Both of these poor excuses for role models get into enough trouble in a week to last a lifetime, and leave lasting scars as neither one has a single shred of personal growth during their experience. This movie has some humor, but it is really a drama about two men going nowhere fast, hence the name Sideways. The ending is really weak and offers no redeeming hope that either character will develop a life purpose or a perspective on living other than continuing to occupy space on the planet with their miserable existence. I was anxious to see this movie because it was recommended by Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist for The Washington Post. Krauthammer felt that Sideways was a really good comedy that smart people could appreciate.

There are only a couple of commentators in print and broadcast media that I believe are extremely bright, have tremendous presentation skills and are worth valuable time to watch and read. Charles Krauthammer is one commentator I look forward to seeing on the Fox network and reading his column in the local daily newspaper. Krauthammer was right about his observation. Smart, savvy people loved Sideways. I was just not one of them. Alexander Payne won the Oscar for his screenplay and directed the film as well.

Sideways was nominated for 4 other Oscars, including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Haden Church) and Best Supporting Actress (Virginia Madsen). The film also picked up another incredible 91 wins and an additional 31 more nominations. So what exactly is my beef to have the temerity to give Sideways an average rating? Just this: Both of these birds are going nowhere 1,000 miles an hour, and I would not choose to live their life or make their choices on the worst day of my life. Neither Jack or Miles are even likeable characters. To say that you like these guys and look up to them is ludicrous.

There are so many better examples of people who resolve their problems and get over themselves. Why watch and emulate a couple of jerks traveling through wine country? Am I a better person for having seen Sideways? Hardly. The Academy members can give Alexander Payne all of the Oscars they want. I think he needs to tell a better story with some redeeming value. I doubt Sideways will go down as a classic film anytime soon. In the meantime, a simple film like A Christmas Story will be a classic long after the dust gathers on the can that holds Sideways.

Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. Read my 3-part series on "Secrets Men Don't Want Women to Know" and reviews on the Broadway musicals "Camelot", "Chicago" and "The Phantom of the Opera". These are all excellent films. Find my Blog at:

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