It is challenging to think of a title to a review of a movie in which nearly every single scene contains a priceless gem of dialogue. The trailer for the movie, I had forgotten, tells us that Kasdan brought us the 80s in The Big Chill and here brings us a vision of the 90s full of gang violence, social deterioration, economic inequality, marital disaster and possibly, but only possibly, a limited sort of redemption on a microscopic if not macroscopic level. One of the film’s miracles is that Kasdan manages to be so consistently funny in the midst of all this. Even though I’ve seen the movie a dozen times, but not for about 8 yrs, I still laugh out loud in scene after scene, when I’m not crying, that is.
The giant film encyclopedia the size of the Los Angeles telephone book says that the film has the subtlety of a brick being thrown at one’s head. To be fair, the girlfriend with whom I saw this film in Santa Monica when it came out hated it, felt it was heavy-handed, sentimental and preachy. She actually lived in Brentwood, where the wealthy immigration attorney Mack, played by Kevin Kline, lives and she is so liberal she makes me look like Glenn Beck. She hated Brentwood, hated the glitzy, moneyed life of LA and went on to be quite successful in Justice for Janitors and now, the major national union SEIU, I think it’s called. But I profoundly disagreed with her then, and with the brick review now.
The movie traces the intersection of six vastly different lives in LA in the early 90s: Mack, the husband and father who works hard Downtown in a boutique immigration firm; Claire, the discontent Brentwood housewife(Mary McDonnell) whose marriage has quietly disintegrated more because she just doesn’t have much to do in life than that Kline has failed her; Roberto, the 15-yr-old son (Jeremy Sisto’s first real part), who leaves to work as a counselor at camp and recognizes the unhappiness within his mother; Simon, an honorable, lonely tow-truck operator with a sister in a dangerous neighborhood trying to raise two kids on her own (Danny Glover); an also lonely secretary in love with her boss played by a very young Mary Louise Parker; Jane, another secretary also not in a relationship played beautifully by Alfre Woodard; and Steve Martin in my favorite role of his ever, even more than Father of the Bride (the first one) or LA Story, as a monumentally wealthy (in another league from Mack) producer of slasher pictures, the ethics of which becomes a fairly significant part of Kasdan’s commentary on the causes, and solutions, of violence in LA. (Martin’s turn as the con man in David Mamet’s Spanish Prisoner is also noteworthy, though the film is flawed.)
Woodard and McDonnell were in a tremendous independent film around this time called Passionfish, about soap star in New York who becomes a paraplegic and goes through many nurses because she’s impossible, before finding Woodard, a recovering drug addict who has lost her daughter to her father, a wealthy doctor. It is set in the Deep South and McDonnell returns to her family home, now vacant, to get away from the pain of Manhattan, where she can no longer work/act or live due to her condition.I forgot all about this film, but it reveals the extraordinary range of these two actresses who tackle parts utterly unlike the previous ones and it was one of my favorite movies in the 90s.
Angela Bassett (a Yale School of Drama graduate) has a small part, as one of the soap stars still on the show, as do Sheila Kelley (I think, one of the Sisters actresses?) and David Straithairn, one of the great character actors working today, highly underrated if not in terms of critical acclaim, then popular recognition. He was excellent in Sydney Pollack’s The Firm, hands down the best of the Grisham books on the big screen, as the felon brother of Tom Cruise, one of the very few Cruise films I adore, and also as the long-suffering husband of Jessica Lange in Losing Isaiah, where the birth mother of her adopted black toddler tries to get him back. Of course he was Carm’s boyfriend in The Sopranos, and she treated him (uncharacteristically) in an egregious, mercenary manner.
Grand Canyon opens at a Lakers game with Mack and his pretty young girlfriend, probably twenty years younger but by no means a baby in college or anything. This was long before Staples Center, and Mac, Davis and his pretty girlfriend are down on the floor of the Forum. We see them come out of the Forum club, where Davis’s late-model red Ferrari is parked in front and Davis is delivering one of his famous disquisitions about reality, society or relationships. Tonight’s topic is fear, and the way in which all people are trying to stave off chaos. Davis of course realizes that Mac and presumably anyone else upon whom he inflicts these philosophical reflections is laughing at him, but persists anyway. Finally, they get into the Ferrari and Mac asks his girlfriend through the rolled-down window, “Why is it that when someone is successful in one area of life , they think they know about everything?” Mac delivers the line with the characteristic soft sarcasm with which he speaks throughout the movie and I have used this line on people whom shall remain nameless more times than I can count.
Traffic is bad and Mac takes a shortcut through what he thinks will be Inglewood but turns out to be another world. As he puts it to his son on the phone after Glover rescues him from a gang, “You’ve never been where I was.” His LS 400 (the big Lexus which had just come out then and been so popular in West LA, the “Jap car” as the gangleader calls it) breaks down and his car phone doesn’t work so he runs to a pay phone near a liquor store. He calls for a tow and just when things are about to get ugly, Glover, a tall, muscular, commanding black man taller by a foot than all these gang members, begins to haul the car up on the rack, before stopping to “ask a favor” of the head of the gang: “I gotta ask you to let me go my way.” It’s one of those “message moments” to which my friend and the critic in the encyclopedia probably objected, but I find it touching and meaningful because Glover epitomizes the honor and decency of a working-class black man living in an unfair and painful world. (Remember: this film comes a year after Rodney King, which is probably why there was so much buzz about it, and such high expectations of Kasdan.)
He tells the young man, a brutally cold and soulless boy, really, that he’s supposed to be able to do his job without asking if he can, and that “that dude’s supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off.” “Everything,” he concludes, “is supposed to be different from what it is.” Mac and Simon drive off and a friendship is born through this lucky escape from a gang-infested neighborhood where his hardworking single mom sister is raising a little girl and a teenage boy, who is himself part of a gang. This of course terrifies the mom to death and creates real tension in the family. They discuss how the city, and country, have “gone to shit,” and then Simon asks Mac if he’s ever been to the Grand Canyon, which he claims reminds us how insignificant “we people really are.” Of course, there is a trip to the Grand Canyon at the end of the movie which perhaps is not very subtle, but moving nonetheless.
The economic disparities the film depicts are nicely symbolized by the opposition of the two living rooms and television sets on which the black and white 15-yr-old boys each watch the Lakers game highlights on the evening news: a cramped, old room with a couch on which the son of the Jon’s cashier sleeps every night, and the enormous room with vaulted ceilings in a house north of San Vicente in Brentwood Park.
After the Lakers game, several events follow in swift succession, which is part of the point of the movie, and something McDonnell says explicitly: all the good and bad in the world is so close together. She finds a baby in the bushes by Carmelina and Hanover where she is jogging. Just before or after this, Davis (Martin) is shot nearly to death in the leg by a hispanic man who wants his watch. Davis offers up his keys to his Ferrari and the guy says, “I said I wanted the watch, asshole.” He goes, of course, to St John’s, where my dad was staying in October, as well as where I was born and my brother had his 6 hour brain surgery for a congenital tumor. (Oh, I also had my regrettable nose job there in 1988 before they did that sort of thing out patient, and I had a hernia, so it’s really been our family hospital my whole life). And Roberto leaves for camp for the summer, from Will Rogers State Park. My parents live nearby, in the house I grew up, and I walked to the park at least three or four times a week as a child and adolescent to watch the polo ponies or just work out. So I am a total bubble machine (my best friend’s name for me in college after I started sobbing during the trailer for Regarding Henry, the movie with Harrison Ford and Annette Bening, about Ford’s recovery and re-learning of basic skills after a near fatal shooting) when they say goodbye to their son, and Claire gets teary remembering how her little boy, “Robbie,” would ride shotgun after she would tell him, “We’re gonna figure this town out, Robbie, you and me.”
I’m sure the reason this movie makes me cry so much is that for years I was estranged from my parents, so when I see scenes of childhood through the eyes of a woman who is phenomenally close to her parents, I think about stuff. I’m also touched by the plight of the mid-20s secretary at a Downtown law firm because I was a late teens volunteer on the Christopher Commission–the group of eight or so men and my mother–put together to investigate the LAPD in the wake of the Rodney King beating and the riots (or the civil disturbance or whatever the politically correct term is). I was in LA during the riots, and it took me 95 minutes to get from Santa Monica Athletic Club on Centinela to the Palisades and it sure seemed, when I got home and watched the news, like a riot to me so I’ve never used that other term. (I also lost about 20% of my clothes in the riots, because my housekeeper used to take our dry cleaning down to Koreatown, I think, where it was so much cheaper and that cleaners burned to the ground.) I was 19 and remember going out for drinks after work with the guys from KPMG Peat Marwick going through scores of police transcripts and being forbidden fruit. (I was in a skirt, blouse and heels and never had trouble getting served at restaurants or bars, which don’t card.) A guy, 20s in a suit, would walk me to my car and then shake my hand! I fared no better with young associates in my father’s office.
Mac calls Claire from the office, while she is sitting in the glorious and lush backyard with a pool–it’s an amazing house truly–with the little baby in her arms all swaddled in Roberto’s infant clothes which she has marked in a neat box up in a closet. This is the sign of a woman with too much free time on her hands. And she’s not all that organized, as her son points out early on when he asks her for a ride home from school. One of the great scenes of the movie is when Mac comes home, she kisses him passionately and he asks , “Is something wrong?” She leads him into the upstairs bedroom where he tries to sit down, thinking he is going to get some sex which apparently is very rare in this marriage as it is currently constituted, and then she blocks him and points to the baby.
He thinks, of course, she’s very cute and asks her whose it is. “I don’t know. I don’t know who the parents are,” she says. “What do you mean,” he asks before raising his voice slightly and leading her into the adjacent master bathroom where she sits on the toilet and he just says straight out, “So.. what’s the story.” She tells him she found it by Carmelina (oh, my grandma lived on the corner of San Vicente and Carmelina in the last ten or so years of her life, in a cute 2-bedroom house, so it’s yet another odd connection to the movie). He asks her what the police have said and then in one of the greatest moments of the movie, Claire says, “Hmmmm?” Mac shoots back: “I’m guessing that the police didn’t say ‘hmmmm?’ so I guess my next guess is that you didn’t call the police. Claire, this baby could be kidnapped! You do know we have to call the police right now?” “Of course, Mac,” she says in this blissful state, in utter rapture with this baby girl, “I haven’t taken leave of my senses. I just wanted you to see how beautiful she is.”
While Davis is in the hospital, he tells his funny, Jewish nurse (there seem to be a lot of Jewish or at least not Catholic nurses at that hospital, my dad’s best nurse spoke Hebrew) that he has “seen the light.” (She says, without much sincerity, “Mazel tov!” )That is, he has come to feel that making movies with gratuitous violence and no plot, which have no redeeming moral or social value, might be part of the problem which he understands now on such a personal and immediate level.
The drive back from the hospital to Davis’s estate is the limo with Kilne and the girlfriend contains one of the great Martin monologues about life and when I’m not gasping for air, it always makes me cry, and not at all because I have even the slightest desire to have a baby. Before they get into the limo, Mac tells Davis and his girlfriend that Claire has initiated adoption proceedings and she says, “Claire is the most self-actualized person I know.” Mack’s response: “She is this week.” Funny. In the limo, the girlfriend urges Davis to tell Mac about his “life change.” Davis says he doesn’t want to do it, that sometimes talking about things gets you out of doing them to which Mac responds, “That’s never been one of your problems.” “No kidding,” the girlfriend chimes right in. Of course, Claire is a liberal Brentwood housewife who thinks such movies are an abomination and Mac tells Davis how pleased she will be to learn of this change.
From there the discussion shifts to the baby situation, to Claire’s filing of adoption papers and foster care etc… And then Davis launches into this speech about what a pain in the ass kids are–with the diapers and the whining–and says that Mac isn’t too “high on the idea” and not because he doesn’t like kids (“In fact, Roberto is maybe the best thing that has ever happened to you”) but because Roberto is 15 and soon to be out of the house and the the last thing he would want is to start over , now, with all that “baby baggage.” At one point Mac breaks in and delivers one of the best lines of the movie: “This is so much more time effective than having a regular conversation!”
In the midst of his diatribe the girlfriend has begun to cry and Mac, wearing a suit as always, gives her a handkerchief. Davis sees that she’s upset, but really doesn’t want to know why (she says, “If I tell you’ll make it about you but it ‘s really not about you but you’ll think it is and you’ll get all defensive” and he says, “Hey, don’t force yourself [to talk about it]” !! He tries to lighten things up by offering a dead-on observation about the oddity of handkerchiefs, this thing you take out of your pocket and hand someone in distress, at which point they slobber all over it and put it back in the pocket. “And while we’re on the subject, what’s the theory on this handkerchief thing?” he begins.
She reveals, finally, that regardless of how rotten the world is, she wants kids, but she’s “so far from a position where that can happen.” She says, “I”m all involved with you and you’re never going to have kids with me, hell we’re not even going to get married, so I’m just so far from a situation where I can have kids. I have to break up with you and find someone else I can stand to be with and who knows if I can even get pregnant with all the shit I’ve done to my body…” Davis leans toward her in the limo, puts his hand on hers and says, “Who says we’re never getting married and having kids?” This utterly stuns both the girl and Mac, and Davis self-consciously recognizes this, before all three of them lean very far back in their seats to absorb this implausible scenario.
The movie finally shifts away from the homefront to Mac and his secretary, Parker. We do see an early moment between them, when Parker gives him the schedule for the day and says that “Mr Duc” is up at 4:30. He says, “Mr Duck? Mr Daffy Duck?” And she says, “You’re awful, that’s why I can’t stand you,” as she puts her hand gently over his and looks into his eyes, getting all “soulful” as Woodard mocks her later on in the cafeteria. We never see the affair between them, know that it was only one night , after which he refused to continue, breaking her heart as she tells the cute, blonde, uniformed officer with whom she walks after a guy smashes the window on the passenger side of her little car on the way back from spying on Kline’s house in Brentwood. (She lives in a great little apartment, by the way. It’s a famous building in Hollywood I think, and she has a balcony on which she can smoke, and a killer view of LA/Downtown and even on a clear day, the ocean. I must ask my mother what building this is. It’s probably a one-bedroom only. But I could never live in Hollywood, my life is just too implanted on the Westside, even if I ever did move back to LA. And traffic is unreal, just no way to explain how bad it’s gotten in the last decade going from Santa Monica inland to Weho or Hollywood.)
The scene from which I take my title occurs shortly thereafter in the cafeteria where Parker and her friend Jane are having lunch. They invite Mac to sit down and he says he has things to do upstairs, but that he doesn’t really feel like doing them and is having this meandering, aimless sort of day, like he has some sort of buzz. “Does that ever happen to you?” he asks Jane (Woodard). She has the greatest no-nonsense sarcasm and perspective on life and replies, “It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.” Before Mac sits down, the two are discussing him and Parker delivers a speech about going about the “love, the touch” thing wrong. She reveals she is this close to being hysterical 24 hours a day. Jane returns, “Everyone feels that way, the lucky ones feel that way, the rest ARE hysterical.” They discuss the potential affair and Jane asks her flat out if she likes her job, because these things always end up the same. The secretary loses her job , and “not because [she's] the little missus in the big house, don’t be thinkin’ that.”
Parker then says all the things that women who have affairs with good , decent married men always say, “Give me a little credit. I don’t think that, I wouldn’t even want that. One of the things I think is so great about him is how devoted he is to his wife and family.” Jane , as she should, says, “If he’s so devoted to his wife what’s he doing messing around with you?” But it’s true. I have never wanted to have an affair with a total shithead, married or not, who sleeps with stables of women. The married men you always want are the cool , taken, good fathers and husbands.
Mac finally sits down and mentions Simon (Glover), to Jane. He describes him as sort of lonely, without a wife (she left him) and a beautiful deaf girl in college in DC (Gallaudet I presume). He asks if she would like to meet him and she is taken aback (they don’t know each other at all) and asks what he looks like. “Is that important?” Kline asks. “Somewhat important,” Jane concedes. Mac says, “He happens to be a very handsome black man.” Parker asks: “How are you going to describe Jane.” “The same,” he says. “A very handsome black man?” in her most sarcastic voice. All the people in this movie have wonderful voices. Woodard has a slight accent I cannot detect. Parker has a great sarcastic female voice, and Claire speaks, even more than McDonnell in other movies, with a quite elegant elocutionary style.
And then Parker gives one of the best and most painful speeches of the movie. I remember writing it down, verbatim, into my journal when I was in college, in 1993, and in therapy as well. (I have this bizarre memory of eating dinner in the dining hall, while I was living off campus, which I ordinarily did not do, and having to turn in my Browning paper to Brisman the next day, on The Ring and the Book, and feeling very stressed that much remained to be done in the next 16 hours. And I wrote this line down in my beautiful dried-flower journal.) Mac says that Simon is lonely, but he seems to be at peace with it, seems to have accepted it on some profound level. Parker says, “That’s be nice. To accept that you’re going to feel bad most of the time–and not fight it.” “Of course,” says Mack (and who wouldn’t want to have an affair with this guy?), “It would be nice not to feel bad most of the time.” “But that’s where you get in trouble,” Parker says with dead seriousness, “by thinking about how nice it would be to be happy more.”
Around this time, I think, Roberto comes home from camp and as they’re driving home (in the wrong direction on Sunset, I might add, from Brentwood), Claire asks him how open his mind is. Oh, he has fallen in love with a blonde girl at camp whose wealthy parents live in San Diego and they have invited him down for Thanksgiving. When they pick the kids up at the end of the summer, Amanda’s parents approach Claire and begin to discuss future plans. She is dumbfounded as her son has not written at all. His nice parents sort of say tentatively, “I guess you didn’t really hear about what happened this summer.” Claire: “I’m beginning to get the picture.” We see them hugging each other goodbye and for about the fifth time in the movie I cry. I want to find the name of the song which plays on the bus back from camp, when they’re snuggling in the big tour bus. (Good rap or hip hop or whatever the right terms is, in the early movie, with the gangs, by the way. And then that classic song with the line, “Lawyers ,guns and money,” which plays when Mack is getting lost by the Forum and then sings, “The shit has hit the fan.”)
It’s also amusing because Roberto says they were probably pleased he wasn’t Puerto Rican and Claire replies, “You mean Amanda didn’t explain all of that in ALL the letters she wrote her parents?” He hopes they aren’t bigots and then she asks him about the adoption of the baby. He is not any higher on the idea than his father, but he eventually comes around. It’s a sad scene, though, because right before he leaves for camp he tells her to “be happy.” He asks if this big thing is about him, and she says only in part, that it involves him. And he asks straight out: “Are you and Dad splitting?” She is shocked, says she’s crazy for his father, and asks him if they look like people about to split.
Roberto reconsiders and during a very funny driving lesson where he messes up a left turn and almost gets hit, tells his father that if this is something she really wants she should be allowed to raise this baby, since it will be more work for her anyway. Mack wants him to pay attention, does not want to be having this conversation, and after the honking and screeching of brakes, Roberto pulls the mini-van over and apologizes. He’s a mature boy in some ways, but during this driving lesson, you see the insecure, not yet 16-yr-old typical Brentwood boy driving all over town. He’s not an adult yet and he has a really sweet spirit. Mack says, “Look, making a left turn in LA is one of the harder things you will ever do in life,” and I remember the audience at the Mann on the Third Street Promenade went absolutely wild at this line the night I went (one of the first nights if not the premiere).
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, and yes, it’s a very elaborate script with a lot going on, Simon’s sister in East LA is the victim of a gang shooting, presumably some retaliatory action by a rival gang. The house is shot to pieces, windows, walls, furniture and in the wake of this, Simon considers Mac’s offer to move her into a decent apartment in Canoga Park, not one of the better areas of the San Fernando Valley, but certainly a lot better than where she is. But like so many black people in those areas, they worry about moving to predominantly white areas and being cut off from their roots and their communities, deracinated. Canoga Park is actually heavily hispanic, but it’s not very black I don’t think. The first night in the new place, the son is harrassed in a park by a gang member and runs home. He doesn’t even know the address or street because he’s angry about the move to begin with. Then some racist LAPD asshole cops pursue him, and treat him very roughly and cruelly and it’s not so much that they rough him up and scare him, as it is the way they talk to him because he’s a black teenager and their theory is, he must be up to no good.
That young actor, I don’t know his name, is truly phenomenal, as is the mother. He’s a good kid in a bad situation. Early on, Simon goes over to have dinner with his sister whom he adores, and Kelly the little girl and the brother. He leaves to go do some things, i.e. meet his gang, and Glover, out on the porch says, “I never laid any shit on you, did I?” The teenager concedes that he hasn’t, and they discuss the worry and pain that the boy is causing his mother. Simon asks him if he wants to be gang-banging when he’s 25 and he responds, in what might be the saddest line of the movie, “I’ll never make it to 25.” The teen reiterates all the traditional arguments about gang membership, that it gives one a sense of belonging and community, that it provides love, even.
Simon persists, telling him that he can get out still. He says he doesn’t want out and then asks a great question (not unlike the one posed by the hispanic high school senior in Michelle Pfeiffer movie based on the true story of an inner-city teacher and ex-Marine, Dangerous Minds, which came out a few years after Grand Canyon), “You mean, you’ve figured out a solution no one else around here could figure out?” (This is a good film, by the way, not in the league of Kasdan–it was directed by Jerry Bruckheimer in fact–but it did poorly and Pfeiffer was righly livid that the studio selected this misleading title, instead of just keeping the title of the book, My Posse Don’t Do Homework. I have seen the film a dozen times and always enjoyed it, partly due to the extraordinary unknown young actors the casting director found.)
Eventually Simon and Jane go out on a first date. It goes spectacularly well and the both have a very funny moment in the car before the date, when they both realize that neither one knows Mac at all. Simon jokes, “Maybe we’re the only two black folks he knows!” The friendship between Simon and Mac is amazing, and Mac is fully aware of the dangers of “mucking around in people’s lives,” as Simon puts it when Mack makes the apartment house offer. He is a do-gooder, and one can make fun of that because there are plenty of Hollywood types and well-to-do professionals who want their names on charity boards and want to be seen as philanthropic and socially-aware. But he’s not like that. He genuinely wants to help Mac, wants to help his sister.
The movie ends very happily ,with the exception of Simon’s nephew who has refused to come home to the apartment in Canoga Park. They do adopt the baby, Jane and Simon fall deeply in love, and Mac recovers, though he has a limp. Simon’s nephew does however go to the Grand Canyon so he might end up staying. I don’t blame him. His friends are 45 minutes away, an hour in traffic and he has no one in Canoga Park. Plus, it wouldn’t be so easy to make friends as a black teenager there, with a largely hispanic population. The gang member who harasses him is hispanic and clearly racist. Parker quits in a very angry scene when she says it is “intolerable” working for him. I understand that, I guess, but I felt she was excessively upset with Mack. She claims he has “denied” her in every way, denied her the right to be angry at him for sleeping with her, in spite of his comment that night that this might be a one-time thing. She says, “If you didn’t want this to happen you shouldn’t have fucked me.” He apologizes, again, but she resents that he always wants to be the “nice guy” who thinks nothing he does is wrong.
He says he was upfront with her , even that night, and she says, “I don’t give a shit.” Honestly, if you’re going to fuck your married boss, you can’t blame him when you get hurt. I don’t think he did anything wrong, really. I mean, a man married for twenty or fifteen years, who has a one-night stand, but is usually faithful. Who cares? I think people make far too much about that sort of thing, make far too much of a one-night stand here or there in the midst of what is a mostly monogamous relationship/marriage. A man is on business trip, meets a girl in hotel bar, goes up to her room and never speaks to her again. Why is that a big deal? Now, a once or twice a week affair for a year, that’s totally different. It may not be grounds for divorce, but it is certainly grounds for being seriously pissed off! But here, it was one night. She initiated their interaction and should have been a big girl about the whole thing. His marriage isn’t great, but it’s not so bad he’d end it and underneath it all, he and his wife do love each other.
There is a great scene midway through the movie when Mac and Claire are in the kitchen preparing dinner and Mack is complaining about his asshole boss (Claire’s term, not mine), Harlan. Mack says that the night he almost died, he realized “he fucking hates immigration law.” Claire is annoyed, tells him she isn’t sure if she is up to hearing about Harlan, a lawyer she’s been begging him to separate from for eight years. She interrupts him, very annoyed, “No you don’t. You like it and you’re good at it. What you hate is working for an asshole like Harlan.” Mack cuts his finger, begins to bleed, and then there is an earthquake during which an elderly neighbor has a coronary that probably will result in death. My favorite line in the scene is when Claire mutters under her breath, “Or maybe there’s some other part of your life you hate and you just can’t admit it.” Mack asks her what she means and then says he knows , to which she replies, “So if you know then I don’t have to say it.”
And later on, during the baby-adoption process, they argue in bed about taking on this lifelong commitment, though obviously money is no object to them. She says that she has the same impulse and feeling toward the baby that Mac has to Simon. He disagrees with her analogy, saying that a baby is a lifelong commitment whereas his friendship with Simon is limited and temporary. Her feeling is that she was meant to find this baby, to love and care for it (and has an encounter with a homeless man in a Montana alley by Il Fornaio in which she thinks she hears him say, “You need her as much as she needs you”). She further feels that they are “in the presence of a miracle,” and that because of their lack of experience with miracles, they’re slow to recognize them. Mack says he’s getting a massive headache and she says forcefully, “No you’re not.” “Excuse me?” he asks. “You want me to tell me why I reject your headache?” “Please.” “Because if I’m right, and we are in the presence of a miracle, it is an inappropriate reaction to have a headache.” Great line.
The last great scene I will mention is Davis’s at the studio with Mack. Davis has decided to go back to making slasher pics, says that while Mack and others will laugh, not everyone can make this kind of “art,” and that if he can make it better than anyone else, he has a “responsibility to keep serving it up.” There is a funny scene with Davis and Claire, when he tells her he’s going to make the world a better place for her little bambino, that he made more money this year than his father made in his entire life, and that at this rate, he won’t run out of money for, say, 18 months.
It’s funny when he discusses this epiphanic moment of his in the hospital and uses the word “unto” (he was trying to figure out the message being “delivered unto him in a 38 caliber envelope” and she laughs at his use of this Biblical word, to which he says it was deliberate and that he might say “thee” or “doth” at any moment). “Your problem,” Davis tells Mack, “is that you haven’t seen enough movies. All life’s problems are solved in the movies.” It’s beautifully shot, with Mack getting out of the golf cart which he uses to get around the lot, and limps to the soundstage he’s working on that day. “So I walk with a limp for the rest of my life and count myself lucky,” Davis tells Mack, noting ironically how amazing it is what we count as “lucky” in this day and age. And Davis does plan to marry the pretty young girl, and have children with her as well.
I know I always write spoiler reviews, but while the plot of this movie does have twists and turns to some degree, it’s sort of predictable. And the beauty of the movie is not really plot-dependent except insofar as it’s fun to see how , from an aesthetic or narrative standpoint, Kasdan wove all these disparate plots and scenes together. I am sentimental, a bubble machine as friend said, but I think it’s an appealing movie even if you are not, as one FB friend said, “a softie” like me. Another FB friend called herself a “smart interactive sentimental” and I liked that so much, as it’s a good descriptor of my temperament.