I Want My 'Weekend' Back
In defense of Funny Farm
By Kimberley Jones,
5:02PM, Mon. Oct. 13, 2008
I've already resorted to numbering. Bad sign.
1) I didn't say that junkies make less meaningful characters – merely less interesting characters. Sure, there are variations from character to character – in what drove him to drink or to drugs, in what prize possession of his mother's he'll hock for that next fix – but the frame of the addict-writer-narrative-arc is depressingly monotonous.
2) My glibness regarding movies about addicts is not meant to be read as glibness about addiction itself. I'm also not denying that these movies might have some value for addicts, recovering or no, and for anyone born to an addict, parent to an addict, dating an addict, or living next door to an addict. Did that cover all the bases? I just sounded glib again, didn't I? Dammit!
3) As for the "brilliant" Sideways... meh. I think it's an overrated, pokey little film with a superiority complex. But it does effectively convey the delicate but toxic shift in temperature that happens under the influence – that giddy high of the first cork popped in the company of good people and on to the inevitable souring when one drunk bottle becomes six. (Raymond Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" does much the same, only to far greater effect. But then Carver was maybe the greatest short story writer of the 20th century, and Alexander Payne is a cold fish.)
4) Funny Farm? Love it. Always have. And you can bet Chevy Chase'd be a lot more fun at a party than this guy....**
** Just so we're all clear, I do know that I just said I'd rather watch Funny Farm than a film by Billy Wilder. Nobody make a big deal out of it, okay?