Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Eddy and Extraneous Romance: A Case Study

I saw Spring Eddy today, and what could have been an amazing movie was marred by random romance. The first part of the movie was great. Our dim witted protagonist Eddy gets himself into one wacky fix after another- complete with mobsters, rednecks and people inexplictably wearing cowboy hats.The plot is simple but understandable - Eddy needs money fast and also needs to  get out of town fast. However, when he gets put in the slammer and his ex fiance has to get him- the movie hits a huge snag.

They introduce a guy who cleans out septic tanks for a living, his stalking of his ex, and his stalking of Jennie, Eddy's ex fiance. They meet cute during a car crash, blah blah blah. Of course, there's also an additional subplot including the hit man after Eddy and some random Western wear lady. The main plot: this idiot needs to avoid getting killed for crossing the mob has great narrative tension. When we see him interact with a scantly clad hitchhiker - we think "Man, this won't be good", and wonder what happens next. When he tries to stick up a bank (on free gun day) - the result is important to whether he gets away or not

However, whether some septic tank salesman gets laid or not is not. When a movie starts off with life or death stakes, taking time out to worry about whether two random folks will knock boots really is jarring. I see this in YA a lot, actually. Sure, the evil government/aliens/vampires are out to kill a girl, but which guy should she choose? The fact that these are just side characters makes the padding even more apparent. Jennie has a part to play in that we're waiting to see if she can get Eddy out of jail. Her new boothang is irrelvant.

The hitman/random chick is less jarring since it's set up as a (flimsy) excuse to get the writer out of the corner he has written himself into. I wish he'd trust the audience- I could see several ways to get Edie out of there without a paper thin romance. 

A movie isn't like a novel where one can convey the love lives of every minor character in detail. A movie is a short story. Every moment must pull its own weight. When we add romance just because it's expected- the movie becomes heavy and bloated.

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