Thanksgiving greetings from What Does The Protagonist Want

For your holiday family viewing pleasure, I recommend taking your siblings and parents to Margot at the Wedding. It is neither heartwarming nor life-affirming, but I will promise you this: no matter who you are or what your family is like, there is not a chance in hell that they are as screwed up as the family in Margot at the Wedding. Seriously, you could have a sibling who, I don’t know, tortures animals for a living or something, and if you took that sibling to see Margot at the Wedding, I guarantee you, after the movie you will turn to that sibling and hug him or her and say “Thank you for being such a wonderful sibling.”

(Margot at the Wedding is a great family movie in the same way Your Friends and Neighbors is a great date movie. Anyone in any stage of any relationship could go see Your Friends and Neighbors and walk out feeling like they were with the warmest, kindest, most understand person on Earth. You could be dating a serial killer, and go to see Your Friends and Neighbors, and want to cuddle up nice and snuggly next to them afterward.)

So, Margot at the Wedding is about a really, seriously crazy woman who shows up to ruin her sister’s wedding. And that sounds like a facile movie cliche, but let’s not forget, Margot at the Wedding is written and directed by Noah Baumbach, who wrote and directed the shining miracle The Squid and the Whale, one of the greatest movies of this young century. Margot, in some ways, is almost a sequel to Squid, it’s like we follow that neurotic teenage boy and his even-more-neurotic middle-aged mom on an adventure in the country.And it’s one thing to say “crazy woman at the wedding,” but nothing I could say could prepare you for how sharply, finely-drawn this character is in her craziness. I’m assuming that she’s based on Noah Baumbach’s mother, and I’m kind of sorry that he had to live through that, but I’m glad he did and I didn’t, and I’m extra-glad that he at least inherited her talent for turning family trauma into great writing (if you see the movie this will all make sense).

The acting is wonderful throughout, but I just want to say, that Nicole Kidman? Boy she sure can act.

On a completely unrelated topic, I also watched Knocked Up this evening. I had missed it in the theaters for reasons having nothing to do with its qualities, which are supreme and abundant. I laughed, I cried, I recognized humanity.

Nicest of all, I got to watch both of these movies, for free, in the comfort and privacy of my own home. Why? Because I’m a member of the WGA, that’s why, and the studios send me all kinds of stuff to watch in the hopes I’ll vote for them for a writing award. That’s right, the studios care that I might like the writing in their movies, so they send me free DVDs.

And that’s why the WGA has to win this strike, because if the studios breaks the union I won’t get any more free DVDs between Halloween and Christmas.

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11 Responses to “Thanksgiving greetings from What Does The Protagonist Want”
  1. nom_de_grr says:

    Can settle a bet for me? I contend that Noah Baumbach is in fact actually a Whit Stillman pen name. The guy seems to borrow heavily from Stillman, from his dialog to his casting choices.

  2. adam_0oo says:

    Ten word review for Knocked Up? For shame, for shame, that was some good movie.

    • Todd says:

      I mean no disrespect for Knocked Up — I found it to be an unalloyed delight. I just know that I’m late to the party on this movie and have little to add to the avalanche of critical acclaim it’s received.

  3. craigjclark says:

    I would love to see Margot at the Wedding this weekend. Unfortunately, the powers that be have decided that southern Indiana isn’t quite ready for it yet. (Heck, we just got No Country for Old Men, which I saw last night, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, which I’m planning on catching this weekend.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great read, thanks. 🙂

    And my granny used to drink advocat and lemonade all the time. Lovely stuff! lol

  5. teamwak says:

    Happy Thankgiving to our former colony

    Much turkey and subjegation of the indigenous peoples to you 😉

    And Knocked Up really was great. I have high hopes for Superbad and Walk The Line, both of which have received some really good reviews.

    MArgot looks very good. I also can wait to see Kidman in The Golden Compass. And Bond as well, for that matter! Very interested in that one, indeed!

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  6. Hey Todd-
    Hope you and yours are holding up alright over there on the other side of the world (or country)…

    I couldn’t hold my tongue on this one-
    I haven’t seen as detestable a movie as Margot at the Wedding in a very long time. Noah Baumbach took everything that was fresh and interesting about The Squid and the Whale and spewed all over it. I just can’t get with his 10th rate JD Salinger cribbed, sadomasochistic, every character is a gaping wound schtick and not feel like I’m being fed last years fish. Oh the humanity…

    I prefer my feel bad movies to come with a much higher artistic standard à la No Country for Old Men.
    Talk about taut!

    • Todd says:

      I knew I could count on you for some good counterpoint. We should make it a regular feature.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ll bring the prunes…

        • …that’s me with the prunes- some people just don’t know how to log on before posting comments…i think it’s a genetic defect…
          i’ll take my vitamins and carb up for the next great debate

          btw- as long as you’re on a Sturges kick- I think The Palm Beach Story is a far superior look at weddings & wedded life gone awry than Margot– and way funnier!

          • Todd says:

            Now there’s a pull-quote for the Preston Sturges box:

            The Palm Beach Story is way funnier than Margot at the Wedding!” — McBoing-Boing