Sunday, August 31, 2014

Right now, I sorry I speak English.

I've been reading Life of Pi for probably over a year now, in between other books, and it's becoming increasingly clear that I wouldn't last a minute adrift at sea. In fact, the last section I read went into great detail about eating fresh tiger feces (he catches it from a squatting Richard Parker) and I just shut down my Kindle, folded my arms, and shook my head for a solid five minutes. I mean, being out at sea for months is bad enough, but when the highlight of your day is a tasteless little shit? Well, that's where I draw the line.

As my last film for Fisti's Twice a Best Actor series, 1937's Captains Courageous wasn't my cup of tea. Sure, Tracy was engaging enough as the Portuguese Mr. Miyagi, Manuel. But even his charm and goofy accent couldn't rise above how much I hated the kid, a scene-devouring Freddie Batholomew.

Victor Fleming's Captains Courageous (based on Kipling's novel) tells the tale of a little rich bastard, Harvey, who is essentially the worst kid on the planet. After some nonsense at school, it appears that Harvey's rich father needs to spend time with his a-hole kid, and decides to take him on a business trip to Europe, via a luxurious passenger ship. Harvey, ever the f--ker, eats too much ice cream and falls off the damn boat. 

But instead of being eaten by a tornado full of sharks as I was desperately hoping, Harvey is rescued by a fishing boat. There, he meets Manuel, the most wise and handsome Portuguese man this side of Cristiano Ronaldo. Though Manuel teaches Harvey nothing of bicycle kicks and slide tackles, he teaches the kid just about everything else in life. And by doing so, becomes the father that Harvey needed so badly. Aww.
But, if you've ever seen a movie, you know that there's no way in Hell that it's going to work out that way, as something will surely happen to destroy the bond forged between the two. While I won't label this movie the absolute tear-jerker that some have, needless to say what does happen is pretty frickin' sad, eight decades later. Yeah, even though I hated the kid for the better part of every single frame he appears in, I honestly felt bad for him by the end. Tough break, see.

I also feel bad for the Yays and Boos. It's been almost a month since we watched this one, so they really don't have a chance at relevance. Good thing no one cares either way, right? Phew. Bullet dodged.

That's young Rooney on the left, and annoying ass Harvey on the right.

  • If I remember correctly, Harvey, being a douche, tells some kid to never speak to him again. The kid replies, punching someone isn't speaking to them, is it? He then, rather brilliantly, punches Harvey in the face.
  • Harvey tells his dad that the teachers are mistreating him. And for the first time in the history of the world, a parent sides with the teacher.
  • Halibut! The whole contest with these gnarly f--kers is great, even if Harvey pretty much ruins everything.
  • Disko! I love this guy.
  • Even though they were all very competitive and borderline ruthless toward each other, I really dug how each ship was willing to deliver mail for each other. Very cool.
  • And finally, Mickey Rooney. Again, no less! Apparently, Rooney + Tracy guarantees Oscar gold...for Tracy, anyway. But even better, is here, Rooney plays a really good kid. And gets bonus points for not talking real fast, see. Real fast.
I'm pretty sure Harvey is thinking that his heart will go on.
  • Tracy's voice was pretty annoying. Think Rob Schneider in 50 First Dates...but worse.
  • And then he sings this song, and it's completely ridiculous. 
  • There was a moment that it became rather obvious that Harvey was becoming an actual person, instead of a walking, talking turd. I hated that moment.
  • There's a boat race to Gloucester that I'm fairly certain occurs in real time. Excruciating.
  • Speaking of time standing still, I thought this movie ended at least twenty minutes before it actually did.
  • And finally, the fate of Manuel. Think the end of T2, when Arnold lowers himself into the molten steel...but worse. I go now and fish with my father = cutting my heart out with a rusty fishing hook.
After this post, I think I'm going to say bon voyage to classic films for awhile, and try to jump back into some more contemporary flicks. Maybe I'll watch another classic, after I finish reading Life of Pi...which at this rate, should be sometime around Christmas.



  1. Thank goodness the movie for Life of Pi didn't include any feces eating. As for this movie, haven't seen it, but another fun review.

    1. I'm telling you...after I read that chapter, I was frozen in place. I could imagine it so vividly it was awful.

      As for Captains Courageous, you aren't missing much. Just watch Overboard (again presumably, because you grew up in the eighties, too), and imagine Goldie Hawn is a ten year old boy, and Kurt Russell is a Polynesian Ned Flanders and you're all set.

  2. Eating tiger feces??? Egads. That makes me glad I skipped the book and went straight to the movie adaptation ... as Dell pointed out, they skipped the poop eating.

    This line made me smile: "for the first time in the history of the world, a parent sides with the teacher." I have never been a traditional school teacher -- I'm not sure I have the constitution for it -- but I have heard stories. My kids were in school for 4 years before we started homeschooling, and knowing my daughter's tendency to see herself as center of the universe, I approached teachers carefully. "Mrs. ___, I was told ___ happened, what is your side of the story?"

    After several years of her drama, and stressful parent-teacher conferences (she did what?!?) ... my son started preschool. We were continually told how polite and well-behaved he was. This put us into a state of shock. We always suspected they had him mixed up with somebody else's kid.

    I have never seen this movie, and I'm not sure I want to, but this is a tremendously entertaining review, as usual.

    1. I loved the movie so much I probably could've withstood the fecal stuff, but let's just agree we're all better off without it.

      Parents should take up their for kids, undoubtedly, but it should probably cross their minds a little bit more often that their kid isn't always telling the truth. I know, huge shocker, right?

      I'm sure your son was a good dude. But....there are those rare cases where they're angels at school and demons everywhere else. Though I always thought that was urban legend.


  3. Loved the Yays & Boos. Having seen this questionable cinematic achievement I think one word describes it best. UGH!

    Oh God the accent! the curly perm! Freddie Bartholomew! I love Spencer Tracy and I love classic film but I've seen enough of both to know that not every one's a winner no matter how big the cast or talented the star. Case in point a travesty called The Gorgeous Hussy starring Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and Robert Taylor. I thought it sounded great...before I saw it! It's set during Andrew Jackson's presidency so Joan, the most contemporary actress to her time, is in hoop skirts!! It's even worse than it sounds. A lumbering disaster with everybody but Beulah Bondi miscast and stiff as a board.

    Back to Captains Laborious, I'm right there with you on hoping Freddie would fall through a hole at any given moment of the film. But what irks me the most is that because of the Oscar win this borderline terrible performance is one of the first someone might seek out of the great Tracy and wonder what the hell people were thinking and not check out his many, many superior performances.

    1. UGH is just about perfect. I should have just typed that 300 times instead of this entire post. Ah, next time.

      I don't think I could handle The Gorgeous Hussy. I draw a line at hoop skirts and and anything set during Jackson's presidency. I gotta have standards, right?

      Man, Freddie was almost the death of me. Yeah, that little punk eventually wore me down, but I really hoped for the worst for that kid. And as a dad myself, that's saying something. Something terrible.

      That's an excellent point about Tracy. Someone out there made this their first Tracy flick and when the credits rolled....they were probably completely confused. And furious.

      Great comment, Joel. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.