January 1, 2008

The most obsessive and ridiculous post I will ever write

I have a peculiar habit of stressing or obsessing about completely inconsequential matters - things like whether or not Jesus had acne. Often, due to my interest in film, this habit extends to the wide world of cinema. Just the other day I grew terribly concerned that in Beauty and the Beast (either version), Belle and the Beast had premarital sex , which is undeniably bestiality, and yet is the subject of a children's movie! (The Disney version, anyway). After I watched Jurassic Park recently, I was consumed by the central paradox: if this guy Hammond is brilliant enough to resurrect dinosaurs, wouldn't he also be brilliant enough to know that no man-made structure could tame and contain a T-Rex? And furthermore, if he's so smart, wouldn't he also know that an island of just plant-eating dinosaurs would still be a scientific miracle, make him billions and cement his place in history without anyone getting eaten? Alas. But there's one plot hole of sorts that I haven't been able to shake for years. Something way less catastrophic and/or disturbing than the previous examples, ultimately inconsequential, and probably present in dozens of other films. And yet I can't stop thinking about it.

I refer to the 2003 film The Recruit, with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell. Haven't heard of it? Don't worry, it is overwhelmingly insignificant. I watched it passively on DVD with my dad, an action movie hound who spent my childhood trying to get me amped about movies like this (unsuccessfully). Anyway, the film features Farrell training to be a CIA agent, with Pacino as his shady mentor and Bridget Moynahan as his love interest. I barely remember anything about the film, except the following.

So Colin and Bridget are in a parking garage, heading to his car to go home after a long day at the office or whatever. They can't control their passion and start making out in the garage. Then it cuts to them making out on Colin's bed at home. That sequence probably seems fine to you - a natural cinematic progression. But all I could think about then - and now - is HOW SEXUALLY TENSE AND AWKWARD OF A CAR RIDE THAT MUST HAVE BEEN.

In 2003, when the film was released, the average American commute to work lasted 24.3 minutes, according to a press release from the U.S. Census. So let's say Colin has to drive for that long to get to Casa de Farrell. He clearly just started something serious with his lady friend in the garage - I should specify that this wasn't a delicate peck type of kiss, it was more of a "fuck me now." But they kinda have to keep a low profile, what with it being the CIA and all, so bumping uglies in the car would be a bad idea. So they have to get in the car, buckle their seatbelts, and keep their hands to themselves for 25 minutes. That sucks! I can't get over this. Here's what I believe would have transpired during that car ride.

Bridget: (panting, feeling the luck of the Irish) How close is your place to here?
Colin: 24.3 minutes.
Bridget: Aw, seriously? But baby, I want you NOW!
Colin: Me too, baby, but I can't blow my cover. I'll drive as fast as I can.
Bridget: Alright, hurry.
(Bridget grabs Colin's crotch, Colin lurches forward)
Colin: What the hell are you doing? I can't drive when you do that. You'll get us both killed.
Bridget: You're in the CIA, I thought you liked danger.
Colin: There's danger, and there's getting your balls crushed by the steering wheel!
Bridget: Baby, I'm sorry.
Colin: It's okay. Hey look, it's a red light!
(He leans over and they make out. The light changes to green but they don't notice. Someone behind them starts honking.)
Colin: Hey, fuck you! (starts driving again)
Bridget: Sooo...are we almost there?
Colin: We have 21.8 minutes to go.
Bridget: (sighs) Oh. Um...
(awkward silence)
Bridget: If you could be any kind of tree, what kind would you be?

And so it's awkward for those remaining minutes, when the two realize that short of attempting the ever-hazardous "road head" maneuver, they must remain celibate until they arrive at their destination. I wonder if filmmakers ever worry that their carelessly constructed plots will make people like me ruminate on them for years. Probably not. Then again, good ol Roger Donaldson (the director of The Recruit) would probably just be glad to know that someone thought about his movie that much in any capacity.


Scott Nye said...

As troublesome as it is to try to place that in any sort of reality, think about every time people in movies have one conversation that starts in one place, goes to another, and another, and ends in one final place without any information seeming to be lost. I wish I had a killer example, but it's in like a thousand movies.

But that's kind of the nature of cinematic storytelling...it ain't a documentary.

Julie said...

Conversations, yes. But I'm talking about SEX here. I'm just amused by the idea of Colin and Bridget having to realistically wait 25 minutes to continue what they started.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I agree with you Julie, and I've wondered the same as both you and Scott have . . . time is definitely wonky in movies. As to the whole sex thing, I wouldn't be so worried about the whole sexual tension as by the calming down and not being in the mood by the time I got home--24.3 minutes is a long time!

El Gigante said...

At least one can kind of concede that passion can be continued over a distance. What drives me nuts is how a conversation will continue minutes, hours or even days later after its begun when a scene shifts, IN THE EXACT SAME PLACE. While sound bridges can be fun the logistics can be maddening.

D. Paul said...

I actually saw "The Recruit" of my own volition (I have a thing for Bridget Moynahan, and I figured, Hey, it's Pacino? How much can it hurt? More than I figured, unfortunately), and I totally overlooked that simple, yet infuriating plot hole (good eye!). I was busy waiting for Pacino to simply start gnawing his way through the scenery, which is always a good time.

brian said...

Why would you assume his commute is 24.3 minutes? Just because that's the average? I'm guessing a young, brash CIA recruit like Farrell would live in a small apartment close to work. 24.3 minutes is for lower middle class married schlubs.

edwin the philosopher said...

i'll admit, i absolutely laughed out loud. your version of an imaginary script which would have occurred in the vehicle (probably something similar ended up on the editing room floor) was HILARIOUS!

i say, you start the scene and i'll help you write. maybe we could have them end up by the side of the road in some other parking garage, like javier bardem and victoria abril in "between your legs". THAT was a steamy sex scene "the recruit" should have copied. people will go to see colin's cock-a-doodle-doo. from what i've been told, the man is endowed.

anyway, just wanted to give you kudos for an entertaining blog.


Anonymous said...

What a hilariously obsessive and entertaining post. I saw The Recruit several years ago, but I never really thought about that part. Great observation and great post.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine pointed this entry out to me & to my ammusement I've kind of been in that situation, w/out the CIA ellement part; just the desparately hungry for a lover and far from a private and welcoming bed.
I find that talking "dirty" about all the things you want to do when you do get home keeps the mood and the safety factor possible.
Also if she was in a skirt & he's not driving a stick shift then there is plenty of hands on that can happen while driving.
Muti-tasking sex, not as hard as you think ;).