Another movie I felt unable to finish watching was "Fantastic Mr. Fox" a little over three years ago. (Read what I wrote about that here.)
Earlier than that was "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (before I recognised how unfair it is to grade a movie I didn't see to the end). I actually tried to finish off "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" at a later date but it didn't take long before I felt compelled to turn it off again. I have never reached the point where Penelope Cruz turns up. (That entry is here.)
I've now seen another two films which I've felt unable to finish. Read on...
The Wolverine (2013)
I watched this at a friend's house around Christmas time, so I might well have finished it if I was watching it on my own. But having already been bored to death by the first half, I'm rather lacking the motivation to get hold of the DVD to see the second half. (I'd already seen leaked footage of the after-credits sequence when the film was in the cinema.)
I was a little confused when the movie began with Wolverine wandering in the woods. I had presumed that the film would start off with Wolverine already in Japan rather than taking us there. Our metal-clawed hero takes pity on a bear that is dying in the forest. He then makes his way into a local bar to find the people responsible for its death. I was a little unsure at this stage why we were wasting time on this, but then Wolverine gave a little speech. Logan, the Wolverine, is no fool. He's worked out that one of the hunters has been using an illegal poison which sent the bear mad. So even while this hunter is boasting about how savage the bear is and how great it is that they took the bear down, he's failed to recognise (or at least he's not acknowledging) that he's actually responsible for some of the damage the bear caused. Logan's also not very happy that this hunter failed to finish off the bear properly too.
The first thing Logan does? He stabs the hunter in the hand with the dart. When the hunter denies that he was using illegal poisons, Logan gruffly replies "well you've got nothing to worry about then." This was the first and last part of the movie where I was excited. We do not even get to see Wolverine kick arse here, because a Japanese woman (with her own X-man powers) turns up to break up the fight.
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I should make clear from the start, I actually like Family Guy. (Well, 'liked' Family Guy. I reached a particular season, didn't laugh at all in most of episodes I watched, and pretty much gave up on the series after that. And yes, the early seasons involved this whole politically incorrect 'shock' humour and yes, the character of Peter Griffin was pretty obnoxious and at times the humour could wear thin. But what Family Guy had going for it was the creativity made possible by the cartoon format. Whether it was spaceship sperms, exploding donkeys, an epic fight with a man in a chicken suit, a police officer in a wheelchair who is infinitely more manly and capable than anyone else in the show, or a monkey who points angrily on cue, there was always something surprising and unique in the show. You simply had no idea what was coming next, so whether it was due to cleverness, satire, irony, silliness, shock or just because you were caught unawares by the pure randomness of it all, the volley of hit-and-miss jokes would generally be pretty successful in keeping me laughing.
So now we have "Ted" which begins by pretending that will be a straight-up inspirational children's movie. The first indication that it won't be, is when we are told that it is a Christmas tradition to "beat up the Jewish kid". The 'Jewish kid' in question, cycling into frame wearing glasses and looking relatively nerdy. (The intended joke here being that neither the bullies nor even the 'Jewish kid' being beaten up by them has any interest in being friends with the protagonist.) This is just one of many pointless references to race, sexuality or gender that litter this movie and, I felt, failed to work as humour.
The first point where I did give a chuckle was when I realised Patrick Stewart was the narrator and he pulled off a gag exactly like you'd expect from his character in "American Dad". The line goes like this: "Now if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. Except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns AND missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive complement of weaponry, an absolute death machine."
Perhaps they could have done with keeping a narrator throughout the movie, because it was one of the better opportunities for randomness. For the most part, the only thing that is out of the ordinary is that there is a talking teddy bear. Asides from that the world the characters are inhabiting is pretty much plain and realistic. And it's a real pity, because there are certain points where the over-the-top crazy style of a Family Guy episode would probably have worked a lot better.
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