Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Love means never having to say "Put Down That Meatcleaver"

I am already well aware that people will think I'm an insensitive Communist bedwetter for the opinion I am about to share.

So be it. I've got my rubber sheets and my Manifesto ready to roll, so here we go.

Let me preface this by saying that I read both Love Story and its sequel, Oliver's Story. I read the sequel first because I just did...when you're in the fifth or sixth grade you're inclined to be ignorant of literary etiquette and just read any damned thing you get your hands on.

I read Love Story the summer I was preparing to start junior high. In the grand spectrum of things, I was probably at the right age to appreciate it. I knew just enough about sex to pass a health class. I wanted the kind of goopy, feisty, pre-fabricated love that Erich Segal captured on those pages. I wanted the "preppy" East Coast life to begin with, which was pretty scary.

When I was twelve, I wanted a boy to love me just like Oliver loved Jenny. I wanted Ryan O'Neal to quote me poetry. I knew the general story anyway from being a carbon-based organism with older cousins that had seen the movie even before reading the book. I just thought this was the pinnacle of what LOVE should BE. Oddly enough, whenever the movie was on TV, there was always something on that outranked it at that particular time, so I never experienced it cinematically. Why should I? After all, love means never having to say you're sorry. Follow the bliss, baby...that's what it's all about, after all.

However, whilst flipping through my OnDemand options the other night, I saw that "Love Story" was there. "Why not?" my inner child cried. I could appreciate seeing a pre-Farrah Ryan O'Neal on screen in all his strawberry blond glory. I could appreciate the Ivy League setting. Let's go!

Oh...did I mention that I wound up HATING IT????? Let me list the reasons.

  1. First and foremost...ALI MACGRAW. Why? She can't act for donkey doody. I'm serious. She SUCKED. Maybe she got better after marrying Steve McQueen, but she sure sucked here. Her line delivery was, at best, one-note. It seemed like she anticipated her entrances, and she said them like she was reading off of cue cards. I think she was hired because she could cry really well and still look beautiful...not like the rest of us whose faces shrivel up like rotten fruit. Oh, that, and I think she was married to Robert Evans at the time, who was HEAD OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES when this lovely, oh-so-true to life film was Paramount Pictures.
  2. The character of Jenny Cavalleri herself (in the flick...and a little less so in the book) is too perfect and accepting of herself. Oliver Barrett IV is the one with all the hangups about his moneyed family, rebelling against his father, etc. Jenny maybe tries to prove herself a little bit too much by calling him "Preppie" all the time, but all in all, she's just this perfect little icon of how love SHOULD be. She (supposedly) teaches Oliver about love...but how much does she REALLY know?
  3. The stupid tagline of "Love means never having to say you're sorry." bullshit meter is going off and shining brighter than a baboon's ass. This sentence permeated many years of '70s culture, and it's the dumbest damned concept I've ever heard. You know what love means? Love means ALWAYS having to say you're sorry for things large and small, and MEANING it. Love means you have to look out for your partner's interests as well as your own. Love means so much more than one pithy statement.
  4. The death scene...I didn't believe Macgraw's performance. Apparently, the Academy of Motion Pictures did b/c Macgraw was nominated for an Oscar, but that doesn't mean doodly to me. O'Neal was quite believable...maybe I'm biased b/c I think O'Neal's hot, but as far as other actresses go, I think there were several that could have played Jenny a lot better. According to IMDB, Barbara Parkins ("Valley of the Dolls") was offered the role, so she might have been a good choice. Who knows? I just wasn't impressed with Macgraw.
There are a few good things...very few...

  1. Ryan O'Neal...he has those endearing, non-perfect good looks that I find myself drawn to. He had his dramatic faults...he could be a little wooden as well, but not as wooden as ol' Ali. All in all, though, he was WAY better than Macgraw. I'm not sure why...maybe because he showed his vulnerability and human-ness better than she did. Oh, that, and he has a nice ass. And he's not afraid to get out there and beat up other hockey players.
  2. Ray Milland. I didn't even remember that he was in the film but there he was. He was also very good in his role. He plays the stuffy banker type quite well, and his eyes are so expressive. I have a soft spot for him, I must admit...thanks to "The Lost Weekend", I know that he has quite the range. His interactions with O'Neal are pretty can see him holding back so much, and the delivery of the cutting remarks he makes are pretty cool. I'm not sure I totally believe the end when there's this tearful reconciliation, but miracles do happen.
  3. The music. I really like the seems to fit the whole mood of the film. The "classics", and the irony that Jenny is passionate about classical music yet is not rigid in her feelings about life and love. However, I really hate the lyrics to the theme from "Love Story". Where do I begin? Two words for that answer: just don't.
  4. The screenplay. I think the author of the book was also responsible for the screenplay but I could be wrong. At any rate, it was very true to the book in some places with a couple of minor scenes missing. All in all, it was true, and that's good.
  5. TOMMY LEE JONES! He has a bit part, and he looks so young. He's got HAIR! He's hot either way, but he's very do-able. Almost as much as Ryan O'Neal.
However, when push comes to shove, the hate won over the love (very sad, but true...and the rhyme was unintentional) and I had to turn it off.

Sorry...I guess I just don't believe in '70s preppie Harvard love and stuff. However, I'm down with hockey. I guess that means I have to whip out the "Slap Shot" DVD again and drool over Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean...rowr...

That's all for today.