Well, Awards Season is finally upon us and our multiplexes are slowly but surely being filled with Oscar contenders and art house favorites who are trying to scam the common filmgoer out of their $10. Last week, Grand Torino rolled out to our local theater and it exceeded the hype; so much so that I think that even if Clint Eastwood doesn’t get the nod from Oscar, he’ll sure as shit get a Video Vacuum nomination. This week, the critics’ darling, Slumdog Millionaire came to town, so the wife and I figured we’d check it out to see what the fuss was all about.
Now you wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m actually a sucker for Oscar bait. I love to have seen most of the nominated films so that by the time awards night rolls around I can boisterously bitch about who SHOULD’VE won, as I am wanton to do. I’ll be the first to admit that Slumdog Millionaire isn’t my plate of curry, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I mean it was directed by Danny Boyle, the man who made diving into a toilet chic with Trainspotting, so I figured it had some potential. As such, I purposely avoided reading any reviews before seeing the film. I wanted to walk into the movie cold and absorb it with an open mind.
Had I known that it was just a feature length, heavily dramatized version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, I wouldn’t have gone to see it. Seriously folks, I could’ve saved my $10 and stayed at home and watched that shit for free on Game Show Network.
Slumdog is all about this poor Indian dude named Jamal who goes on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to try to win some bucks. Every time Jamal is asked a question, we get a flashback to his childhood, showing us exactly when and where he learned the answer. Example: One question asks who is on the hundred dollar bill. Then we get a flashback of Jamal as a youngster handing a blind beggar kid $100. Jamal asks, “Hey, who’s on the $100 bill?” The kid replies, “Ben Franklin!” Cut back to the television studio where Jamal exclaims, “The answer is C. Ben Franklin. Final Answer!”
I shit you not.
And the movie goes on like this over and over again for almost two hours. How can critics (and audiences) be falling all over themselves to praise this turd?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what the film is getting at. They’re trying to say that Jamal’s tumultuous upbringing gave him the tools he needed to win a bunch of money on a game show while he simultaneously searched for the girl of his dreams. It’s just the way the film handled these scenes that got on my damn nerves. They're maudlin at best and downright stupid at worst. The flashback scenes play out like a sort of asinine Indian variation on a Charles Dickens novel. The drama involving the gangsta brother is tepid, the comic relief reeks of desperation (How many Oscar favorites can you think of that have their main character fall into a vat of shit?) and the framing sequences are straight-up hokey. The cast is all amateurish, with only Frieda Pinto being any good; and that’s mostly just because she’s a dead ringer for Laura Gemser. (Please, if they ever do a reboot of the Emanuelle series, get Frieda. She’s hot.)
And out of all the game shows in the history of broadcasting, why did the filmmakers have to center their film around Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (To add insult to injury, they couldn’t even afford to get Meredith Vieira, OR Regis to host the show. What’s up with that yo?) Honestly, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? They couldn’t have picked a better game show? I mean there are like 100 cooler game shows they could’ve based their film on. Here are just three game shows the filmmakers could’ve used for inspiration that would’ve made the movie a lot better. (I hope you’re taking notes, Boyle.)
Win, Lose, or Draw: The Movie. Celebrities’ drawings come to life in whimsical and magical ways. Then suddenly, Dom DeLuise’s doodling of Godzilla comes to life and eats Rip Taylor. Burt Reynolds laughs hysterically.
Match Game Millionaire. Flashbacks reveal just how dumb Dumb Dora really was. Then, after years of lustful innuendo, Richard Dawson and Gene Rayburn finally get horny enough to double stuff Fannie Flagg while Charles Nelson Reilly tells everyone where to put their ________.
See how easy that was Boyle? Don’t let me do your job for you again.