Obviously some kind of bizarre vortex has sucked something out of the universe. Stephen Hawking must have an explanation, because I certainly cannot understand why a film based on one of the great novels of the twentieth century sucked pud, and a flick about a bunch of well, jackasses, worked. Wormholes. It’s the only answer.
In case you didn’t know, All the King’s Men is simply an amazing novel. Graduate school and I didn’t get along too terribly well, but I am so glad that I took a class in Southern history and literature, because I probably never would have read Robert Penn Warren’s story otherwise (I had already read Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O'Connor, Richard Wright, and William Faulkner). History is not a field known for scintillating writing, and the novel was tonic to my story-starved soul. Curled up on my couch, the tale of southern politics, betrayal, and loss (aren’t they the same?), narrated by the world-weary Jack Burden, enthralled me. The story broke my heart, while giving me insight into the charisma of Huey Long. If you haven’t read All the King’s Men, you might want to consider putting it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry.
Do not, however, put the muddled Sean Penn snoozer on your must-see list. You will regret it. Ugh. The crap screenwriter-director who ruined Schindler’s List gutted All the King’s Men by reducing it to gauzy atmospherics and twitching. Honestly, I have nothing good to say about it. My poor boyfriend had no idea why on earth the Louisiana legislature wanted to impeach Penn’s herky jerky Willy Stark (a fictional Huey Long), or why Jude Law’s unconvincing Jack Burden needed to dig into the past of the man who raised him (Anthony Hopkins) in order to stop the impeachment from happening. In other words, he couldn’t see why the story mattered. If all I’d seen was that terrible movie, I wouldn’t know either. Talk about being conceived in sin and born in corruption, only to pass to the stench of the shroud. Sucked into a wormhole, All the King's Men was.
I was looking forward to All the King’s Men Friday night. I did not plan on seeing Jackass: Number Two ever. To my way of thinking, Jackass represented a wholly other kind of stench. Pranks involving dangerous levels of testosterone, shit, pubic hair, ass-branding (with a penis cookie cutter), and horse semen are frankly not my cup of tea. I like my IQ, thank you very much, or if I'm going to sacrifice it, I do it with shows like Grey's Anatomy (see below). I don’t know what to blame it on, the rainy day, disappointment in All the King’s Men, the desire to shock my boyfriend by agreeing to see it, or wormholes. It was either the vortex, or a combination of the other three that drove me to the multiplex. I've been bored and disappointed before, and I have other ways of shocking my boyfriend. So I'm praising the wormhole.
Jackass is hilarious. Side-splitting, gross-out, piss-yourself funny. I nearly threw up, not once, not twice, but three times, the third being a very close call (things that made me retch: eating horse shit, drinking horse semen, and a guy wearing a fart mask and throwing up in it). Hysterical, zany, and surprisingly joyous, the stunts and pranks performed by Johnny Knoxville's posse of grown men were like a giant middle finger (or a big, hairy moon) shoved into the face of maturity.
In the middle of the romp, John Waters performs a magical disappearing act. Perhaps it was his magic trick that caused the vortex? That could be, but I don't think so. We've had too much depressing reality of late. We know all about corrupt politicians. What the world needs now is Jackass, and that's why the vortex happened.
Or maybe I'm just full of horseshit. All I can say is that I didn’t stop laughing (except when I was retching) from the opening scene of Number Two to the closing credits (scored to “Treatment Bound” by the Replacements—my all-time favorite beautiful jackasses). My brain was sucked into a wormhole. It was great.
Tell Stephen Hawking I don’t care.