Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’m going to have to be real with you guys on this one.  I didn’t come CLOSE to getting this movie.   I’m sure it’s due to my unenlightened, media softened, WB, UPN, FOX, reality show pickled brain, but I just didn’t get ‘Old Joy’.  The only reason I made it point to see this movie is because it’s one of the highest rated films on the Metacritic ( at 84%.  An 84 percent Metacritic rating is Sky High.  The film that won Best Picture, ‘The Departed’ clocked in at 85% and the film I personally thought was the years best ‘Children of Men’ received and 84% just like ‘Old Joy’.  In case you don’t know, the Metacritic takes the ratings of the nations leading film critics (Of which I am not one, if you can believe that.  Outrageous!), and adds up the combined scores of the reviews to come to a Metascore.  So when a movie rates higher than say ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and every other Best Picture nominee outside of ‘The Queen’ then I gotta see this movie.  I kid you not though, I did not get it.

What exactly is ‘Old Joy’ about?  Well, that’s a damn good question.  Mark (Daniel London) is sitting in the front lawn sipping tea with his pregnant wife Tanya (Tanya Smith) milling around when he gets a call from old pal Kurt (Will Oldham).  Kurt wants to hook up and hit the mountains for a weekend, so Mark asks Tanya for permission and then we actually get to see Mark drive across town, listening to the radio for about five minutes on his way to pick up Kurt.  Mark picks up Kurt, they make some small talk getting reacquainted, and proceed to drive to the mountains, saying very little to each other of any worth.  They pick up groceries and supplies, literally, we see them walking into the store, loading up the car, closing the door, pumping gas, throwing sticks to the dog, getting lost, while saying very little to each other.  At least as far as I could tell.

After driving around the back woods of Colorado, or Washington State, or wherever the hell they were, they get the camp site and proceed to walk through the woods for a good twenty minutes, throwing sticks and now saying nothing, as opposed to next to nothing, until they reach the hot spring.  Then they get naked and relax in the springs for the next 10 minutes.  Then they hike back to the car for about 10 minutes, Mark drops Kurt off, Mark drives home listening to the radio for a couple of minutes while Kurt walks around town for a minute to close the film. 

You know what, I’m going to go ahead and say it.  This movie sucked ass.  Seriously.  It wasn’t about anything!  There is no freaking way that 40 or so film critics across this great nation of ours could have ‘gotten’ this thing.  No Freaking Way!  What happens is, and I’m totally convinced of this, is that some critic of note gives this thing a good review, then another critic, not wanting to look like he didn’t ‘get it’, gives it a good review, and then what you have is virtually every critic in the country piling on praise for a movie that most of them though was pointless and stupid.  Trust me, it’s pointless and stupid.  For example, I was talking to a friend of mine who reviews for a local news rag.  He saw the movie ‘I Think I Love My Wife’ and gave it a very good review of 4 stars out 5 for this newspaper.  His editor, however, seeing that the rest of the nations reviewing press didn’t care for the movie too much, elects to drop his rating from 4 stars to 3 as to maintain the ‘integrity’ of the newspaper.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Is this what this crap has become?

I’m sorry, but the emperor ain’t got no clothes on y’all.  ‘Old Joy’ was NOT any good, it wasn’t about anything, and it wasn’t particularly well acted or well shot.  When Mark and Kurt where sitting in the woods talking about nothing, I thought the conversation would lead to some revelation about some relationship, or hidden secret or something, but it never materialized.  Then I thought that maybe these guys are secret gay lovers or something, and they would soon start necking, but no, it didn’t happen.  After a while I was hoping these two clowns would start going at it just break the freaking monotony! 

There you go, this movie sucked ass, and I am not afraid to say it.  There may be a few of us out there that can grab the subtle meaning of two guys walking in the woods for 75 minutes saying nothing to each other, grasping the underlying subtext, but I’m not one of them.  Fuck it.  I’m going to go watch ‘Demolition Man’.

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