Thursday, December 04, 2008

Year of Flops: Where Rabin is Wrong

Nathan Rabin, the genius behind My Year of Flops, reviews of the Shadow (1994) and the Phantom (1996, I-W) are totally wrong; but even when he's wrong, he's still a great read.

Rabin and I differ on a number of fundamental film issues - for example, he likes the whole genre of 'uncomfortable humor' (e.g. What About Bob, or the oeuvre of Albert Brooks); he's sanguine (har) about horror films, and he just doesn't seem to get the fun brilliance of action-spoofs. He gives doofus reviews for City Heat, Hudson Hawk & Mystery Men - because he just cannot understand what's going on. It's weird, but after 4 such reviews, it's clear that despite his erudition, eloquence and intelligence, he may not have the necessary subtlety to get parodies. I wonder what he feels about Evil Dead II/Army of Darkness. Likely, he ain't on board.

So while he hates the Phantom (which is as fun a movie, though not quite as good, as Mystery Men, Hudson Hawk etc), the film he does like, The Shadow, is pretty terrible. Yet here's Rabin: "Where The Phantom is a second-rate film about a third-rate superhero played by a C-list actor, The Shadow is an even more frustrating proposition: a second-rate film about a first-rate superhero played by a brilliant, perfectly cast actor."

Baldwin has gotten better in his old age - mainly because he's better at comedy, especially playing a rich dork, than he was at action. The Shadow is pretty terrible, the Phantom good, and Rabin is funny but wrong. Then again, I owe Nathan for clueing me into "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story." So maybe he only understands parodies if (a) the spoof is tattooed on the back of their necks, or (b) it's about music.

Backpost, finished on Nov 11, 2009.

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