RATING: Is your mold talking to you? Time to switch to a stronger bleach!
Before you start watching a movie, you need to ask yourself why you’re watching what you’re watching. No one just watches a movie, as much as some might believe. That would be like going to ‘restaurant’ to eat ‘food’. If you went into an Italian joint and ordered a taco because you hate pasta, you’d be considered an asshole. The fuck would be the point in listening to someone bitch about the food if failure is set up the moment the critic sat down? If you’re a big Mexican fan, and you order a quesadilla but get spaghetti, then you’d be able to give the appropriate insight. A critic can critique whatever they want, however they’re authority on a subject is restricted to their taste. You should also stop going to fusion restaurants; it’s obvious you don’t like them.
When I see a movie, I enjoy watching a story unfold. Strong characters dealing with complex situations is interesting to watch. The majority of people agree. There’s a reason why the three act structure and ‘Hero’s Journey’ is the standard for writers wishing to do more than brag to their drunk friends about how mind-blowing the ‘risks’ they’re taking are. Three act stories have a progression that’s natural to us. Don’t believe this is true? Tell a story to your co-workers some time. Does your story about meeting that loose blond at the bar start with you walking from the cab to your place her, then, via time skipping techniques and tasteful metaphors, wax on about the meaning of life before ending with the look she gave you before you two went back to her apartment? Or does it start with you buying the drunk chick one last shot to push her inhibitions overboard and progress to you getting the fuck out of there after she freaks out because you shot your man mayonnaise into her contact lens? I know which story I’d rather hear.
Motivational Growth is this ‘different’ type of movie. I don’t like it. It’s boring. This type of film utilizes the medium to create a podium for ideas that the filmmakers wish to discuss. The characters represent an ideal or way of thinking rather than, you know, being actual people. A theme is dissected as the film progresses, which becomes stranger and stranger as the more abstract ideas are thrown in. There’s plenty to talk about since no one shuts up as the monologues reach Spike Lee levels of ranting. The audience is meant to analyze each conversation for the deeper meanings that will, in turn, spark new revelations within them. The audience takes away only as much as they’re willing to put in.
That being said, the film appears to try waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay (I’d put in more ‘A’s to express this opinion, but it sounds better to stretch the word for five minutes rather than type a paragraph that you folk will just skip) to hard to be thoughtful. Artsy title cards span the movie, segmenting the ideas Motivational Growth tackles. At least, that’s what I think they’re trying to do. Most title cards spit an obscure word at you, however if they’re aiming to impress, doing a rudimentary google search turns these thousand dollar words into confusing nothingness (it’s a good thing the budget didn’t allow for million dollar words; those fuck ups might have caused the yuppies to riot). For example, ‘Nomenclature’ introduces the segment where the main character fails to kill himself and tries to find a way to fix his TV. Since this term means ‘to name something, specifically in the scientific field’, I don’t know what fucking mental gymnastics someone has to be willing to make to find some profound meaning. They must be annoying to talk to.
With the exception of Adrian DiGiovanni as ‘Ian’ and Jeffrey Combs as ‘The Mold’, the acting in this film makes the pompous writing sound extra irritating. This cast would be cut from a college drama club’s production of ‘Into the Woods’, yet here they are in a film cycling through film festivals. I don’t believe anything they say for a second. Half the time it looks like they’re just waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can get to their line. The awkward starts and stops kill the pacing of several key conversations, and I’m willing to be that it’s only through Don Thacker’s (writer, director) editing ability that no one steps on each other’s lines. It’s a good thing that ‘The Mold’ doesn’t talk to many people; Jeffrey Combs’s laid back temperament for the character would make the awkward starting and stopping in the middle of actor’s lines stick out like that retarded kid covered in moles in high school.
If you like this kind of thing, great; good for you. There are teachers out there that love to read 10th grade interpretations of Catcher in the Rye, so there’s reason to believe that Motivational Growth has its audience. I can’t say whether or not it attacks its subject well since I’m not a fan of trying to figure out the meaning of every little thing that’s seen or said. I enjoy a movie that makes me think. It’s a wonderful feeling when a movie drives me to do more than passively sit there and let my emotions be manipulated. When a movie pushes lines of thought rather than letting the ideas flow naturally, it feels like a tool instead of art.
Also, the puppet was cool. It’s probably why they couldn’t afford to give Jeffrey Combs a different part.