Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Into The Wild" is lame.

I just finished watching last year's critically acclaimed "Into The Wild", directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch. I thought I'd like it a lot, because any movie about traveling tends to be at least vaguely magical to me, but I really, really do not.

This film is based on the story of a young man, Christopher McCandless, who grows up in an affluent household, graduates from Emory University in Atlanta and decides that he wants to drop out of society and travel around the country. He gives away $24,000 to OxFam in the form of a cashier's check and hits the road, neglecting to keep his family updated on his travails. The film skips around a bit, alternating between showing him on his various journeys, his frantic parents and sister wondering where the hell he is, and his final journey in the Alaskan bush where he eventually starves to death.

It's basically your typical story of a rich white boy who adopts a silly, inappropriate moniker (in his case, "Alexander Supertramp"), sets a pile of money on fire (literally) and bums off of people who are nice enough to take him under their wing along the way- and by virtue of his privileged and sheltered life he has no idea what the fuck he's doing. He gets a pretty brutal beatdown from a guy working security in a train yard because he doesn't know how to hop trains. He drives his car into a flash flood because he doesn't know how to drive around them. And finally, he starves to death in the Alaskan bush because he went out there with nothing but a field guide to edible plants.

I am tired of watching film after film about self-indulgent rich white boys who graduate prep school and/or college, decide they're bored with their position in society, and go on these ridiculous journeys toward self-enlightenment. Sean Penn basically puts this kid on a pedestal, romanticizing and slobbering all over him like he's Jesus or some shit. Meanwhile, as a working class woman who would pretty much kill for the pile of money he burned in the desert, I just rolled my eyes the entire time. What kind of moron goes into the freaking Alaskan bush in the dead of winter without a map or proper supplies? What kind of a cruel asshole just disappears off the face of the earth without telling his family where he's going, much less sending them postcards from time to time alerting them to the fact that he's still alive? The film tries to make a case through flashbacks that he had a traumatic childhood and was attempting to escape it, but it doesn't look too much worse than anybody else's I know.

The most painful part of the movie is watching Chris shoot a beautiful moose, hack it into pieces, then letting it rot because he has no idea how to cure the meat. What a waste of a life- two lives, really.

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Jamaica Plain, MA, United States