Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Charlie Jane Anders: Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie

Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie
by Charlie Jane Anders


Michael Bay understands that summer movies are about two things: male anxiety, and pure id. That's why he casts Shia LaBoeuf, that supreme avatar of pure male inadequacy, in the lead role. LaBoeuf projects a pathetic, wall-eyed dorkhood, when he's not babbling like a tumor removed from Woody Allen's prostate that somehow achieved sentience. I imagine the DVD of ROTF will include a whole disk of outtakes where they had to stop filming because LaBoeuf was drooling on camera. As it is, the film includes several extreme closeups of LaBoeuf's dazed stare.

Where was I? Oh yes. So LaBoeuf, who's actually a fine actor, is the stand-in for the male viewers' greatest fears about themselves. No matter how great a loser they might be, they can't be as losery a loser as Sam Witwicky. And yet, Sam has awesome giant robots stomping around telling him he's the most important awesome person ever. And he has the hottest girlfriend in the universe, Megan Fox, for whom banality is a huge aphrodisiac. The more pathetic Sam gets, the more Fox's lips pout and her nipples point, like little Irish setters.

To make matters more awesome for the insecure males in the audience, Sam actually tosses aside his giant robot fanclub and his walking-pinup girlfriend, so he can have a normal life. Of course, this only leads to other robots and hawt chicks (who turn out to be robots too) throwing themselves at him and telling him how important he is. In the end, everybody learns to appreciate Sam just a bit more than they already did, and a booming voice tells him he's earned the "matrix of leadership" through his courage and stuff.

And then there's the "id" part, which is the part where stuff blows up real good, and huge machines smash each other up. And every single performance is so ridiculous that it looks down on "over the top" as if from a great height. It's the part of your brain that thinks it would be awesome to see robots with giant dangling testicles, or hot chicks turning into robot tentacle monsters, or "ghetto" robots that talk in inept hip-hop slang and smash each other playfully, or funny Jewish men who talk about their "schmear" and randomly strip to their G-strings. Is that going too far? Then let's go 100 times farther than that and see what happens!

Transformers: ROTF is so long, you'll need to wear adult diapers to it. But the movie's pure celebration of the primal urge, and unfiltered living, will make you rejoice in your adult diapers. You'll relieve yourself in your seat with a savage joy, your barbaric yawp blending in with the crowd's screams of excitement.

And yet — and here's the part where I really think ROTF approaches "art movie" status — the movie's id overload reaches such crazy levels that the fabric of reality itself starts to break down. Michael Bay has boasted about how every single shot in the movie has so much stuff going on in it, it would take your PC since the dawn of time to render one frame. After a few hours of this assault, you feel the chair melt and the floor of the movie theater becomes an angry mirror into your soul. Nothing is solid, nothing is real, everything Transforms.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

No comments: