There are many genres of bad movie: Mutant Insect movies. Westerns where unshaven men say stuff like, “Git” and “I reckon”. Movies where adolescent males try to get laid and hijinks ensue. Yet so little is said of the “Heartwarming” genre that it is seldom recognized as its own distinct category of shitty movie. Our intention in this analysis is to rectify this, and to assure the Heartwarming Movie its rightful place among shitty movie genres.
We will consider two Heartwarming movies, “Air Bud” which we saw with our son when he was six, and “Dark Horse”, the feel-good movie of 2016. We will demonstrate that they both suck. We will conclude by repeating ourselves in our final paragraph, only worded slightly differently.
1. “Air Bud”: A Bad Movie
A lonesome boy named Josh finds himself in a new town. As the background music clearly states, everything is sad. His father has just died. Kids at the new school pick on him. We’re sure there’s other depressing stuff we can’t even recall: His only friend is dying of gangrene. His uncle is serving time for peeling the label off a mattress. Who knows. Also, he plays on this hapless high school basketball team that always loses.
But guess what? Josh befriends a stray dog, Bud, who’s really good at basketball! And pretty soon Bud joins Josh’s high school basketball team and they start winning! Bud bounces the ball miraclously off his nose, play after play, and right into the basket! Wow! Hooray! And he starts leading the team to victories! And then guess what? They make it to the championship game! The other team is a bunch of bullies. They play dirty. And build up a big lead. It seems pretty worrisome. Unless you’re like me, and you’re actually hoping Josh’s team will lose, hoping that perhaps Bud decides the 24 Second Clock would be a great thing to pee on, and gets a technical foul called on him; or that the opposing coach will suddenly realizes that, holy crap, Bud is a dog, and have him declared ineligible; or, if all else fails, that a tornado will strike the movie set.
But guess what? Josh’s team starts to use “teamwork”. And Bud starts scoring more and more. And they start coming back. And now the music gets really uplifting. And…its eight seconds to go! They’re still down by one! Can they pull it off???? (Spoiler Alert: Yes).
This movie was basically Heartwarming Hell. By the end, even as you try to jam your ears closed to block it out, the goopy music invades you through your pores and you find yourself desperately fending off that awful, feel-good feeling by thinking madly of creepy things – atrocities, vomit, getting punched in the sternum – anything that is not so damn uplifting!
Rotting Post Rating: – A Must-Not-See Movie
2. “Dark Horse”: The Feel-Queasy Movie of 2016
The other night we were making plans with our good friends the Kzyzliwskyzs (pronounced ķžŸŻĿĵŵşƃƏžs).
“How about seeing this movie, ‘Dark Horse’?” they suggested.
“What’s it about?” I ask.
“It’s about a racehorse. It’s based on a true story. It’s this underdog racehorse named, ‘Dream Alliance’ that starts to win races.”
“Are there any girl horses in this movie?” I ask.
“I don’t think so,” my friend says.
“Great. When should we pick you up?”
So I wind up at this movie, which turns out to be a documentary. A British, feel-good documentary! When did this genre start? Aren’t documentaries supposed to be disturbing?
Also, it turns out that this movie is so Indie that on a Saturday night, at 8pm, the theatre has about 19 people in it, all of them apparently geriatics who had been shipped in from a nearby nursing home as seat-fillers.
But back to the movie:
Through ingenious narrative devices, such as pointing a camera at someone and having the person talk, we learn that Dream Alliance was a very underprivileged horse. From a broken home. This is a horse that basically grew up on the bridle paths. It didn’t even know who its father was. All its life, it had to eat grass and hay just to get enough food. Of course, nobody expects this horse to win anything. But here’s the thing: It has street smarts! Mental toughness those snooty, upper class horses lack.
This movie is strongly recommended for the connoisseur of equine anatomy set to Pachelbel and Vivaldi. There are dreamy close-ups of the horse’s eyes, its snout, its hooves, its forelocks (I think those are on the legs somewhere). Then people talk about the horse. They say stuff like, “ ’e was a handsome one, ‘e was.” (Although at times it was hard to hear over my Mrs. Rotting Post’s intermittent snoring and the nursing home inmates narrating the plot to one another at hearing-aid volume: “WHAT’S HE SAY?” “HE SAYS HE WAS HANDSOME”. “WHO?” “THE HORSE!” “THE HORSE SAYS HE’S HANDSOME?” “HUH?” “SHHH” “WHAT?”)
I bet you can’t guess what happens. Dream Alliance starts winning! Yayyyy! First he wins the Blinghamshireford Cup and then the Dingleberry Cup and then the Puddlewuddle Cup.
But guess what? Just when it seems things are going so well…adversity starts happening! “Dream” pulls up during a race with a torn tendon. Oh no! Maybe they’ll have to put him down! The music turns dark. The scenery is all foggy and drizzly. Say it’s not possible! It can’t be! Lord, take our grandmothers if you have to, but not this brave, majestic creature!
But guess what? He gets surgery and he’s all better and he’s winning again and pretty soon you’re thinking STOP! NO! GET ME OUT OF HERE! ANYTHING! I WILL BE A BETTER PERSON! GOD, PLEASE, I ASK YOU FOR SO LITTLE, PLEASE MAKE THIS HORSE LOSE!
Rotting Post Rating: – well worth not seeing
If You Go:
Make sure everyone in your party has some coffee beforehand.
Choose a late show when the old people will be in bed.
Save time: Ask for your money back before you go in.