Movie critics all across the country are running around shouting that Denzel Washington is going to get an Oscar for his role as an alcoholic airline pilot in the new movie Flight. They’re using really clever phrases like “Denzel SOARS in Flight!” Hah! Hah! Very witty! A lot of these pun-loving critics, I’ve noticed, are men. I am not a man. However, I saw a preview screening of Flight this week and I’m here to say it is a wonderful piece of cinema – if you like ham-fisted Lifetime movies with after-school special morals, stupid music, and boobs. Tons of boobs.
This is a serious character study about a man with lots of demons who becomes a national hero when he safely lands a plane that’s nose-diving straight down onto a holy-roller church in the South, even though he’s secretly drunk and high on coke. Crash landing into a church is a subtle symbol of faith and redemption.
The actual crash is pretty impressive and tense (props to director Robert Zemeckis and his team for that), but the problem is that, before all this sheer drama begins, the movie basically opens with a shot of a woman’s perfect yet blurry boob. When my eyes finally focused and I realized that I was looking at a naked, perky breast, the words, “Are they kidding?” floated through my confused brain. I could feel my blood pressure spike a teeny bit. “What does a boob have to do with plane crashes?! I came to see plane crashes!” I thought. This isn’t a sexy French thriller. Then it got worse.
After the opening C-cup tableau, Denzel lounges in a hotel bed demurely covered by a sheet, having a long, one-sided conversation with his invisible ex-wife who seems to want money from him for their kid’s tuition. She is presented as being a bitch.
You quickly realize that the blurry boob that opened the movie belongs to a super hot woman who seems to enjoy traipsing around the hotel room buck-naked before she slips into a skimpy G-string. In a moment of true inspiration, the woman bends over, stripper style, as Denzel stares straight at her ass and says into the phone, “I’ve been up since the crack of dawn.” It’s like Chekhov meets Benny Hill.
Then the woman struts back and forth passing in front of the camera a few more times, since we women have nothing better to do than parade around in lacy lingerie in front of men without a care in the world right before our shift starts at work. This goes on for the entire opening scene of Flight. If there are Victoria’s Secret commercials in The Netherlands and France, I imagine this is what they look like.
Denzel Washington is one of those actors who could “be interesting reading the phone book,” as the cheeseball saying goes. People don’t really use phone books anymore, but if Denzel starred in a one-man show called The Last Luddite that had him literally reading a phone book for two hours, he’d probably be pretty riveting. He’s good in Flight, it’s just that everything else around him is about as ridiculous as the “I’ve been up since the crack of dawn” quip.
Maybe Hugh Hefner and a few others (like all those critics) are perfectly fine and happy seeing a naked woman on screen for no apparent reason, but I think it’s pretty hard to take a serious movie seriously after an intro like that. Michael Bay doesn’t even pull that crap, although I’m sure he would if it weren’t for all those teenyboppers in the audience who allow things like Transformers 3 to exist.
The silly and borderline offensive opening scene probably wouldn’t be a big deal if the rest of the flick weren’t so corny. John Goodman plays what might be the world’s first slapstick coke dealer (he carries a red, yellow, and green Rasta bag- a prop they probably borrowed from some Lifetime movie about gateway drugs and murder). Denzel’s character meets a beautiful young heroin addict with lovely cleavage who mopes around and looks sexy as she battles her inner demons. Every time someone sniffs a line of coke there’s a dramatic woosh! of the camera to let us know that THEY JUST DID COKE! AND COKE MAKES YOU CRAZY! CRAZY! We all saw Goodfellas, Mr. Zemeckis. That dramatic swoosh is very 1990.
Maybe you’ll agree that Denzel should take home a gold statue for his work in this groundbreaking piece of cinema. Maybe you’re also anticipating that Lindsay Lohan will win a Golden Globe for her upcoming role as Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime debacle Liz & Dick. Maybe you’re right. Personally, I just can’t get past the blurry boob.
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