Trigger Happy

I’ve been thinking about how the Internet has negatively affected me as a movie fan. A lot of people online are fixated on ratings and analyzing movies to excess. I got caught up in that for awhile. Every time I finished watching a movie, I made all this extra work for myself. First, I’d have to determine why it should be deemed ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Then, I had to figure out an appropriate star rating or number out of ten to assign it. Lots of pretentious judging. I think it’s better to politely and maturely explain one’s reaction to movies, instead of just arrogantly dissecting, labeling, or insulting them.

I’ve adapted a new approach to watching movies. Its purpose is to help me avoid being smug towards them. Now, I almost always watch nothing but movies I like from start to finish. If I can’t do that, I usually skip the movie. This way, I can focus on positives. Ratings would be redundant because they’d all be the same (i.e. between 8 and 10 out of 10 or 4-5 stars). I can’t believe I ever wasted my time watching movies I don’t like, then going online to broadcast mean comments or stupid ratings. These days, I usually only put up with frustrating movies if they feature a favourite actor or actress. I trust these people and their charisma to make any movie bearable.

It has been difficult to let go of my old hypercritical attitude. “Son of Paleface” made it easy by reminding me of what it’s like to be so busy having fun with a movie that I can’t think about things like ratings and criticisms. This is a loose sequel* to “The Paleface”. It reunites Bob Hope and Jane Russell as new characters. Hope is absurdly cast as son of his character from the previous movie.

Russell does everything I loved seeing her do in the first ‘Paleface’ movie and more. Once again, she plays a tough girl who is handy with a gun. What’s new (and a welcome change) is how she divides her time between being a singing saloon girl and notorious bandit. As saloon girl, the star gets a chance to show off musical talent and a voluptuous figure like she did in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (the movie that introduced me to Russell and made me love her).

The songs she sings are energetic, cheerful, and cleverly-written. The Oscar-winning “Buttons and Bows” from “The Paleface” (still among my favourite songs heard in movies this year) gets a reprise, sung as a duet by Russell and Roy ‘The (Singing) King of Cowboys’ Rogers. Bob Hope repeatedly interrupts them with new spoken word lyrics. Somehow, he’s simultaneously annoying and amusing.

“Son of Paleface” is the kind of sequel that strives to be bigger and better. More songs and characters, more elaborate stunts, and more ambitious action sequences. The cast is expanded by both Roy Rogers and ‘Trigger’, his horse. Introduced in opening credits as ‘The Smartest Horse in Movies’, Trigger lives up to his reputation. In a hilarious scene, he and Bob Hope fight over bed covers. Every time Trigger pulled the covers with his teeth, I laughed harder.

Other highlights include a surreal desert mirage, Russell taking a bubble bath, her secret hideout (which looks like something out of a comic book movie), and a comedic action sequence that immediately brought to mind a classic scene from “The Simpsons”.

I like the first ‘Paleface’ movie a little more than the second. I wasn’t always pleased to see Bob Hope and Jane Russell sharing screen time with Roy Rogers. His heroics bring some exciting action to the plot, yet he feels like a bit of a ‘third wheel’ who needs to lighten up. I love Hope’s reaction when he asks Rogers, “Don’t you like girls?” and the stolid dork replies, “I’ll stick to horses, Mister”.

Both of these movies feature an Oscar-nominated song that I love. In “Son of Paleface”, it’s called “Am I In Love?” The lyrics remind me of what I’ve been saying about how people should try not to risk making movies less enjoyable by analyzing and evaluating so much.

Am I in love?
Well, I really couldn’t say!
I don’t know why I’m feelin’ this way
But the feelin’ feels okay!

“Am In Love”
(Lyrics by Jack Brooks)

Like love, movies are sometimes better experienced without strained reflection. There is no need to rigidly assess and define. The pleasures of something can render a cataloging of its flaws pointless. “Son of Paleface” is broad, silly, and corny. It lacks believable character development and the flimsy, implausible plot is mostly an excuse for visual and verbal jokes. I’m sure many folks would happily put down the movie and rate it poorly for those reasons. If they do, I don’t want to hear about it. Is this a ‘good’ movie or a ‘bad’ movie? It’s a movie that makes me smile. That’s enough.

* Just like “Son of Paleface” is loosely a sequel to “The Paleface”, what I’ve written above is kind of a sequel to something I wrote in February.