Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 5: Defendor

I thought a movie where Woody Harrelson dressed up like a superhero and fought "Captain Industry" would be a pretty popular, only it didn't get much of a theatrical release. Which is a shame, because it's great. The trailer presents it as a comedy, which it definitely is for the first third and little bits of the other two. He tells Kat Dennings to "make like a rocket and take off," his weapons of choice are marbles and jars of angry wasps, and he has a VCR strapped to his back; the premise is so silly, we're caught off guard when things turn more serious.

It turns out Harrelson's character is retarded. Not "heavy-handed substitute for lame" retarded, but actually, Forrest Gump retarded. He has that Gump charm as well, except that this movie isn't total shit. A better comparison to both character and movie would be Lars and the Real Girl.

In that, we get the same comedy feel for the first part, when Ryan Gosling buys a RealDoll, named Bianca, and treats it like his girlfriend. But when he takes Bianca to a work party, we expect everyone to ridicule him; instead, they play along, not mockingly, but wholehearted and genuinely. Suddenly, we're not laughing at how ridiculous it is, and when Lars's "girlfriend" falls ill, we're worried. Though we know that it's just Lars imagining things, probably because he's falling for one of his co-workers and is perhaps sub-consciously choosing her over Bianca, we've been with Lars for all of it, and we care about him, and we might even care about Bianca.

That's what happens with Defendor. Once we discover his mental incapabilities, we don't root for him because it's funny when he spits out terrible one-liners in a deep pitched Batman voice, we root for him because he honestly believes that he can stop Captain Industry from drug and sex trafficking. He believes that the whole drug dealing world is run by one man, and that with him gone, kids won't have to worry about their mothers being taken away by drugs and prostitution.

In all honesty, it's Harrelson that drives the whole movie. I'm still not convinced Kat Dennings is any good, and the scenes without Harrelson don't really go anywhere. I think it's just a matter of time before he wins a major award for one of his movies.

Note: I do not count MTV's 1993 "Best Kiss Award" as major.

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