Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lucky Charms

The follwoing excerpt is from Lucky Charms by Ben Shakey. It will be published by Kevin Reynolds Publishing in July 2009

Peter could have checked the review online as soon as it was posted but it seemed more suiting to wake up early and wait at the 7-11 for the papers to be delivered.

He hounded the clerk to open the bundle and sell a copy, eventually overcoming the minor language barrier and then the major barrier of the clerk’s absolute disinterest in Peter’s concerns.

With a copy of the paper, and therefore Andrew McGuinn’s review, folded under his arm Peter crossed the street to the Aristocrat Dinner. The waitress, who was now far too old to naturally maintain her red hair, was turning on the flashing OPEN sign.

Peter sat in booth and ordered a black coffee and order of eggs Benedict. The meal was partly celebratory and partly hang over cure. The liquor from last night premier was still floating around in his head.

Andrew’s first movie was vehicle for a handsome sit com star that was attempting to prove that he could entertain people without a blaring laugh track to tell them he saying something funny. His leading lady had appeared in a few minor roles and on lots of magazine covers after a very famous actor left his wife for her. Together they helmed a romantic comedy about a man that pretends to be Irish in order to impress a girl he meets in a bar on ST. Patrick’s but then has to carry on the nonsensical Blarney Stone accent because he falls in love.

It wasn’t a great movie, but it was the first one that Peter got to direct. There would be other ones later and maybe those ones would be remembered but right now Peter was happy that they TV actor's name managed to find enough funding to pull it off.

Peter had enough sense to realize that he didn’t make a masterpiece. He didn’t fall victim the trapping of the red carpet and press junkets and desperate young actresses of last night.

Hell, he was just a normal guy sitting in a dinner reading the paper.

The only thing that allowed himself to feel special about was the review waiting in the paper for him. Andrew McGuinn rarely wrote reviews for a debut film like this. He reviewed maybe one film a month, was known to watch 5 successive showings of it , would travel from the inner city to suburbs in various disguises to feel the audience response. Notoriously, he once bought tickets for an entire theatre full of movie goers so they could watch a movie again after he explained to them all why they misunderstood it.

Jerry didn’t care about his trailer or free champagne. This was what made him feel like a director. He hoped that McGuinn caught his Ernst Lubitsch reference.

He began reading:

Lucky Charms is not a bad movie.

It is not very good either.

It achieves everything that it tries to be.

I mean there are a few funny moments in it like when the lead actor Jay Mercer wears very heavy cable knit turtle neck sweater and almost passes out from the heat or when he tries to insult someone with a limerick but in his inability to find a rhyme slowly breaks down in a halting stream of vulgarity that he seems incapable of stopping.

But, overall it is just paint by the numbers romantic comedy. I would like to say that I figured out where the movie was going in the first minute but I had it figured out when I saw the poster.

Director Peter Wilmont might be capable of more, there was sly Ernst Lubitsch reference, but who knows if he really is. He didn’t even try to let us know if he was capable of belly flop or a dive. He just waded into the water.

I try really hard in these reviews but over the past 30 years it has become clear that nobody else out there is trying. My ambition in these reviews has always been to spark discussion and stir debate even about something as simple as a movie. These filmmakers always tell me they just want to make a movie. As if that is something noble in and of itself.

Well, no more. I’m done. I’m not going to sit around watching these things when all they want to do is exist and make money. They can do it without me. I’ve wasted my life putting too much effort into reviewing sorry romantic comedies like this.

I could have been outside, not cramped and pasty trying to write in a note book at a dark matinee.

I could have met real people and not watched thinly drawn fictional dweebs.

I could have been somebody.

I’ve wasted my life.

Peter folded the paper and pushed it aside.

It was less of a review and more of an atomic bomb dropped on him.

His movie just made Andrew McGuinn hate movies. McGuinn might even retire now.

He paid and walked home in a daze.

At home the phone rang and rang. Bad news travels fast. You would think they all got up a dawn to read the review.

He dranks vodka till he passed out, woke up on the sofa and turned on the TV to find out what time it was.

The evening news was on.

“In entertainment news, film critic Andrew McGuinn found dead at age 56. Suicide is believed to be the cause, with the strongest evidence being a disturbing review he submitted to his editor last night and was printed this morning”

Well, thought Peter. It looks like he created a very memorable film

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