The ‘idiotbox’

Morning Glory
Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum; Directed by Roger Mitchell
 
Love and Other Drugs
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt; Directed by Edward Zwick
 
Unstoppable
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson; Directed by Tony Scott
 


Click [The television gradually warms up and the image slowly brightens; the audio comes on in mid-sentence]
 
Becky speaking from a news desk: . . . and that’s why there seems to be a decline in political discourse. Ah ha ha ha. Coming up next, have you seen the latest hairstyles of the celebrities? Many of them are trying out new looks for their locks, and they are certainly turning heads! We will show them to you and get commentary from our very own fashionistas. So, Colleen, everyone should please stay tuned and see how their favorite celebrity is clipping their coiffure. Ah ha ha ha. 

Colleen: I sure can’t wait for that, Becky. I’ve been itching to see what Cher is doing these days. And, who knows, maybe we can even get some tips for our own hairdos! Ah ha ha ha. 
 
Becky: Oooo, speak for yourself! Ah ha ha ha. 

Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs.
Rachel McAdams stars in Morning Glory.
Denzel Washington and Chris Pine in Unstoppable

Colleen: Oh, Becky, of course you have wonderful hair! Ah ha ha ha. I was only teasing. But, right now we need to talk about something serious. It’s a film that has just been released. And you know what, it’s all about us! That’s right, it’s about you, me and Mike right here on Morning Glory. Can you believe that?! It’s even called — get this — Morning Glory! And it’s all about what we do here on Morning Glory to help you all start your day with a smile and put a bounce in your step. Oh, we so love our work! But this new movie — I don’t know, maybe we should consider taking some legal action, you know, for accurate impersonation! Ah ha ha ha. What do you think of all this Mike? 

Mike [appearing both aghast and irritated while looking at Colleen, and after a pregnant pause while the camera lingers on him, he says]: You know, Colleen, this film symbolizes all that is awry with Hollywood these days. It is filled with over-exaggerated, over-the-top characters just so that the audience can know when to laugh and so that they can feel superior at the same time. The film loves to be both condescending of the morning news shows and their personalities while, at the very same time, suggest that this is just what people want and need . . . 

Becky: Ah ha ha ha. Thanks for that insight, Mike, and, so sorry to cut you off there, but it is now the bottom of the hour and we need to take a short break. After all, we have to get your gigantic salary paid now don’t we! Ah ha ha ha. So, please don’t you go away. We’ll be right back. 

Announcer: You’re experiencing Morning Glory, the critic’s morning variety show here on the Pundit Network. 

Commercial: [Images of a loving, attractive couple as they have a romantic evening dinner; they friskily gaze at each other as they sip wine and slyly smile and laugh; they leave and the valet retrieves their car; they drive down a sparkling lit city street and come upon a movie theater marquee with the name Love and Other Drugs listed; they look at each other and he winks at her while she bites her bottom lip seductively; then this narration is heard:] Go for sitcom style humor, like Love and Other Drugs, and you’re sure to get a reaction. But, don’t let this bad movie slow things down. Exita, America’s most prescribed bad movie treatment can help you avoid this painful movie going experience. Ask your trusted critic if your heart can withstand the insipidness of Love and Other Drugs. Don’t go see Love and Other Drugs if you are interested in a sophisticated comedy about the pharmaceutical industry and its aggressive selling techniques of sexual dysfunction medications as doing so may cause an unsafe drop in enjoyment. Side effects from seeing Love and Other Drugs may include headache, upset stomach, groaning, and a violently negative reaction to the over-exaggerated characters and situations. To avoid long-term injury, seek the immediate use of Exita for exposure to Love and Other Drugs for longer than five minutes. Stop watching Love and Other Drugs and take Exita right away if you have half a brain and enjoy realistic characters that experience honest emotions and behaviors. Now’s the time to get moving and take Exita. [Image of the couple speeding away from the multiplex as she puts her head lovingly on his shoulder and they drive to an Opera House down the street] 

Becky: Welcome back to Morning Glory. As we mentioned before the break, we know you are interested in shutting off your brain when you watch Hollywood movies. You don’t want to see real people doing real things. Why would you want to be reminded of how things really work? Ah ha ha ha. And that’s just what you get with this new film about this very show you are watching called Morning Glory. You know, Colleen, I was amazed at how well this film captured what we do here and how we help peoples’ cares melt away while teaching them how to melt goat cheese on their omelet. Ah ha ha ha. Or, we help them get as indignant as we want at something that we find worthy of such indignation. They get it just right! Ah ha ha ha. 

Colleen: That’s right, Becky. In these depressed economic times, you want to be transported to worlds where people are hyper-quirky and plucky, or hyper-frumpy and curmudgeonly, just like us here on Morning Glory! Isn’t that right, Mike? 

Mike [again looking appalled]: You two just don’t get it, do you? This film suggests that hard news — real news and the straight-ahead reportage of it — is simply too boring and thus can’t garner the ratings anymore. Instead, it suggests that we have to spice it up, give the news a little cutesy touch so that people will watch. And yet it seems to even make fun of that approach. Everything is open for farce and ridicule. All of us old mandarins of the news business are fossils and the younger generation needs their news in easily disgusted nuggets like clever tweets . . . 

Colleen: Sorry to cut you off again, Mike, but we are just now hearing some breaking news. It seems that people are concerned about some thunderous rumbling coming from their local movie houses. We now go live to Ralph at a nearby multiplex. Ralph, what can you tell us?
 
Ralph [talking loudly over loud rumblings]: Colleen? Colleen? Not sure you can hear me. I’m standing here outside this movie theater and I can tell you that I can feel the earth shaking and the sound is deafening! It seems that there is a film playing here called Unstoppable, and it . . . [his signal beaks up] 

Colleen: Ralph? Ralph, we are losing you . . . well, we . . . 

Ralph [again practically shouting and stressed]: Colleen, we are having some difficulties hearing you so I will just keep talking. Anyway, this film is about a runaway train barreling toward a Pennsylvania town. Naturally, it is pulling hazardous chemicals and headed to a sharp curve right over a number of oil tanks. Whoa! You probably just heard that! Even standing out here we can feel the teeth-chattering sensation that the film’s director, Tony Scott, is so known for! He has a reputation of loud, in-your-face action and he is pouring it on thick and heavy here. I must say, Colleen, that even though this film is effective in its depiction of a massive, out-of-control train, I’m dizzy just standing here reporting on it. That’s because Mr. Scott, as with his other films, just can’t seem to keep his camera still — even when filming people talking. He does so here with this film’s train conductors, played by Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, as they drive another train engine to try and catch the runaway train and stop it. The camera circles round and round and round their train engine cab [Ralph pauses and steadies himself] as they incredibly talk about their lives, families, and personal matters while all hell breaks loose and the urgency and peril accelerates around them. Not sure how this is going to end, but we can take a wild gues . . . [the signal breaks up again and is finally lost] 

Colleen: Well, I guess we have lost the signal. I am sure that Ralph will be ok. He is one of our best reporters. Wow, Becky! I hope people at that movie theater are going to be all right. 

Becky: I do too. I’m sure they will, Colleen. And, I do love Denzel Washington! Such a tremendous actor! And that Chris Pine, uh, what a hunk! He really gets my heart racing! Ah ha ha ha. Sort of like a runaway train! Ah ha ha ha. 

[The camera cuts to Mike, who again is looking thunderstruck]
 
Click [The television goes quiet as the image darkens around a small central dot, which also gradually fades to black]

Doug Young is the film reviewer for The Colorado Statesman.