Saturday, November 3, 2012

In Ty Hodges' YOU, ME & THE CIRCUS, love, lust and subtext battle to the death

A suggestion to the editors of all dictionaries published henceforth: When searching for an example of the word pretentious, look no farther than the straight-to-digital movie "musical," YOU, ME & THE CIRCUS -- one massive, unforgettable lollapalooza of pretension. From the opening circus "number" (TrustMovies uses that word loosely) -- during which the goddamn camera can't stay still, the reason being, as you'll soon figure out, that these performers are not really all that good at anything they are supposed to perform (songs, dances, acrobatics) and so all that camera movement and editing is meant to somehow stand in for legitimate talent -- to the "story" of one couple's love gone astray, even as another's never materializes, everything on view and within audible range is ploddingly, numbingly awful.

This is not necessarily the fault of the performers, either, as I have seen several of them previouly do good work. I hate to pile all the blame on just one fellow, but as the film was co-written (with Marlon Olivierre) and directed by Ty Hodges, who also has a starring role in the movie, I'm afraid that Mr. Hodges, shown at right, must shoulder the lion's share. The plot, such as it is, concerns two male and two female best friends, one female of which is about to break up with one male. She goes to his apartment to give him back the key, and there we stay for 96 minutes of whining and worrying, name- calling, and a little sex.

What makes all this so pretentious is that Misters Hodges and Olivierre have decided to intercut it with scenes that take place in this "cosmic" circus, above, where, according to the press release, "the subtext of each character's emotions are revealed." Hello, guys? Do you know the meaning of the word "subtext"? Because, for me at least, both the text and subtext here all looked pretty much alike. In any case, these circus scenes, usually set as musical numbers, don't give us much that's original or interesting.

Worse, the musical "interludes," with their especially bum lyrics, are mostly a chore to sit through. You keep waiting for them to end, but then, when they do, you're only back again with these boring, tiresome people. Most b&t of all is an actress I've previously enjoyed -- Anita Briem (above, right) -- as the whiny, obnoxious young woman who's breaking up with her guy. The screenplay gives her little of intelligence to speak, and so our interest goes to her guy, played with his shirt (and sometimes more) off almost throughout the film by the hunky Matt Dallas (above, left and below), who, along with Ms Briem, provides eye candy aplenty.

The other couple -- played by Melonie Diaz and Mr. Hodges -- at least have more interesting stuff to chat about, but the whiff of misogyny hangs over the movie rather heavily. Ms Diaz begins the film by literally hitting Mr Hodges with her car. Does she apologize, or even seem to feel sorry about this? Nope. Together with Briem's rather constant attitude of bitchiness, the women do not come off well, particularly when set against the two just-regular guys who act like they only want to connect with a nice girl and make her happy. Sure.

With the arrival of a pair of supposed policemen (Marlon Wayans and Columbus Short) things move from the merely prosaic to the really dumb. I am probably being far too hard on a little failed movie and its movie-makers who undoubtedly imagine that they are trying something different -- which we critics always claim to appreciate. But this isn't really "different." Instead it simply shows the lack of maturity and perspective our filmmakers possess.

This lack is not a deal-breaker regarding an entire career, as growth is always possible. But it is, so far as this particular film is concerned.  You, Me & The Circus is available now from GoDigital via all major digital platforms.

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