The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

Colombiana vs. Our Idiot Brother

Every movie you've ever seen exists in its own universe. "Star Wars," "Steel Magnolias," "Pirates of the Caribbean" - they all created a world in which they could reasonably function.

You may be saying, "Duh," but you only really admit it when the movie's bad enough to make you yell, "Fake!" Movie worlds may look like ours and function like ours, but even when they're good there's a moment when you have to suspend your understanding of reality to enjoy them. And that's very true of the two movies I watched this weekend: "Colombiana" and "Our Idiot Brother."

"Colombiana" is about a young girl who witnesses her parents' murders by a drug cartel, and grows up to avenge their deaths. Zoe Saldana plays the lead, Cataleya - an adult who's pretty much nonfunctional when she isn't parkouring her way through the Colombian slums or slinking across prison rooftops.

And that is one of many problems with the world of this movie. Despite Cataleya's claims about her parents' deaths in the movie's trailer, her parents aren't killed in front of her. She hears them dying and then goes flying out a third floor window after stabbing their attacker.

Along the way her uncle teaches her lessons about being a "smart" killer by shooting up a stranger's car in broad daylight and just walking away as the cops arrive. If that had been all that was wrong with this movie, I might have enjoyed it. And the sad thing is, I really wanted to enjoy it.

Tragically, the dialog is horrible, weird and stilted throughout the film as if it were written after the storyline was put together, so nothing comes out sounding natural. Cliff Curtis (the Maori actor who has played every single ethnic minority in the world) has an unintelligible Latino-ish accent and Callum Blue has a terrible American one. And then we're robbed of any of the continuity that's necessary to make even hardcore action movies entertaining.

These are episodes in her life that just happen to be shown in order on the screen. There's no graceful movement between plot points that makes you care - at all - about what's happening and the fighting is shot haphazardly so you don't even get a decent look at the action you're paying for anyway.

In happier news, "Our Idiot Brother" was enjoyable. It's about a man who has probably smoked so much weed in his life that his brain functions fastest at Whoa-speed and the three self-absorbed sisters who have to deal with him.

Paul Rudd succeeds as the happy hippy that just can't do the right thing, but still seems more together than anyone else. He never loses his childish innocence, overwhelms your sympathy even if you want to hate him and has some hilarious new age arguments with his co-op ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

However, everyone else seems like an old person's caricature of all them young whipper snappers today. Or like a modern version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, except the dwarves are named Slutty, Alcoholic, Oblivious and Bossy.

At one point I even found myself wondering if maybe all four of them had been molested as children (the characters, not the actors). Maybe that's the reason they're all so dysfunctional.

Both movies exist in their own universe, where it's absolutely normal for everyone to know the name of a rare orchid and for a trained assassin to put together an intricate prison bust when we see that she could have just cut out the whole part that eventually tips her identity to police by just crawling in through the ventilation. Or where truth-telling hippies are the ones that save the day, man.

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But if I have to choose a universe, I'll take the one with the clueless brother over the sultry assassin any day.

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