Robert Pattinson Never Read Water for Elephants

04.29.11

I don’t know why I care, but I do. I loved the book Water for Elephants and I loved the movie in spite of Pattinson’s sub-par performance.

I just watched Robert Pattinson on the Jimmy Kimmel show and Jimmy asked Pattinson why the movie was called Water for Elephants, and he replied with, “I don’t know.”

You know why he didn’t know? Because the movie never addresses what the movie does, that no one actually brings water to elephants, you have to bring the elephants to water. Elephants require too much water… blah, whatever, read the book and you’ll know.

What’s remarkable and offends my sensibilities is that Pattinson was paid millions of dollars to act in a BIG movie that is based on a bestselling book, and in his preparation he couldn’t even be bothered to read the book that tens of thousands (maybe more?) of people had read.

Maybe Pattinson can’t read? Maybe Pattinson mistakenly believes he is a talented enough actor to not research a role? I won’t ever know, nor will I particularly care, but his utter lack of preparation may help explain a lackluster performance.

Water for Elephants is Such a Good Movie that Robert Pattinson Can’t Ruin it

04.22.11

I took two twelve year old girls to see Water for Elephants. They say it’s the best movie they’ve ever seen. To be fair they haven’t seen many movies and they thought Eclipse was a good movie, they are not to be trusted.

I read Water for Elephants and like most bibliophiles I seldom enjoy seeing a movie after having read the book. I wanted to see this because I knew that the backdrop of a prohibition era circus was bound to be visually arresting.

The movie did not fail in being a delight to the senses. The costumes, the makeup, the music and the sets were flawless. I felt like I’d been transported to another era. While many movies have arbitrary soundtracks, Water for Elephants had music that became a character.

Reese Witherspoon was Marlena. There isn’t much more to say about her role. There was never a moment where I watched her and thought she was an actor. She was completely believeable in her relationships with both Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) and with August (Cristoph Waltz ).

Cristoph Waltz plays August the circus owner with a borderline personality. His performance took my breath away. Waltz goes from love to confusion to fury and takes you on a fearful journey. At moments I felt compassion for him, but always he was the enemy of all things good.

Robert Pattinson was okay and mercifully didn’t speak too much. He’s very nice to look at and when he was interacting with the animals he was wonderful. Sadly when he interacted with Reese it felt a little like a high school play where the sweaty palmed sophomore is playing opposite the talented and beautiful senior. I felt badly for him, he was cast with the best of the best and there was no way he was going to end up looking good.

The good news is that the story is such an engaging one, the plot and the music, the scenery and the animals are so all encompassing that you don’t notice the flaws in the performances.

Practical tips.

I took two 12 year old girls to see it. I asked them if they could have enjoyed it a year ago and they had to think hard about it. These are media savvy 12 year olds too. They’ve been on dozens of TV and movie sets so they understand the pretend part of it better than most. They agree that it’s absolutely not for a 9 or 10 year old, but they can’t agree on if 11,12 and 13 are all ready for it.

Animals and people are abused and murdered, but the animal scenes are more disturbing.

None of the violence is gratuitous and the message is positive at the end of the movie.

There are sexy moments but there’s no sex. That Resse Witherspoon is pretty awesome.

Say what you will about Pattinson’s OhShitICan’tAct performance, but after a fight scene a fully packed theater of jaded moviegoers gave the show a round of applause, and then they hushed themself for a kissing scene that was acted so sweetly that everyone was afraid to breathe.

If the measure of a good movie is audience behaviour then Water for Elephants gets an A+. I cried when they asked me to, I cheered when it was planned, I felt tremendous anxiety when they took me on that road, and finally I felt duty bound to the old man who wanted to return to the circus.

There was an experience the writers wanted us to feel, and we felt it all, we felt it as a group, and we celebrated the triumph of Water for Elephants even though the movie never really addressed the fact that no one gets the water for elephants. You bring the elephants to the water, but only carnies and folks who’d read the book would know that.

The Jeezus Culture

04.22.11

Earlier today Jane and her friends saw Soul Surfer. They thought the movie was okay but the mom who took them said, “There’s a lot of Jesus in it.” Jane thought that the movie might be trying to make people Christian.

Part of me wishes I’d have researched the movie a little bit. As a Jewish mother who isn’t overly observant I have a complicated relationship with those who prosthelytize. On the one hand I see them as Jesus freaks who look as dopey as Cheech and Chong once did, and on the other hand I see them as Jim Jonesesque type creatures that want to strip my children of logic and reason.

I love the idea of my kids being surrounded by people who believe in something. I hate the idea of my children being told that their own beliefs are wrong or inadequate. I’d rather my children believe in Freud and Physics than Armageddon and Afterlife. Jews believe in education, we believe in questioning everything, we believe that man judges. We are the people of the book.

I remember growing up in a community that played host to a mega church. I remember being told I was being taken to a concert only to find out that they were rockers for Jesus. I remember being told I’d burn in hell if I didn’t take Him into my heart. Still, if believing makes you a better person I say go for it.

I remember not believing in Hell even when I was tiny. I tell my children that it’s a made up place that people in power use to frighten children. I still believe that’s true, and no quoting of books will convince me that it’s anything but a man-made manipulation.

I’m as likely to believe in an afterlife as I am to believe that my Uncle was once an earthworm. This is not something I’m looking to debate, it’s simply how I see the world.

So when my kids see a movie that’s actually meant to prosthelytize I feel torn. I like that Jane didn’t buy the message, but I dislike that at every turn there’s this need for Christians to try and bring everyone to church with them.

I need something incredibly secular now. I’m taking Jane and a friend to their second movie of the day. We’ll see Water for Elephants. We’ll talk about adultery, animal abuse and running away from home. It’s an All American Story that I can relate to.