by Dane Youssef
Ah, "North." The "Showgirls" of family films.
Now here is a movie so wrong-headed, wrong-hearted, wrong-made... so wrong, you'd think the old axiom of a broken clock that's right twice a day would prove. But nope. Doesn't. By a long shot.
One of my most depressing experiences as a child was seeing Rob Reiner's "North." In fact, as extensive internet research has shown me, it was a painful experience for many as children and stayed with him throughout adulthood.
One of the worst movies of the year. One of the worst movies of the decade. One of the worst movies ever made. One of the worst ever. And when I say "worst", I'm comparing it to things like the Plague, Holocaust, World Hunger, AIDS and Leperocy.
Elijah Wood is a wonder-boy who is constantly ignored by his parents despite his best intentions and efforts that make most parents beam like the sun with pride. He spends a lot of time feeling ignored and sits in a chair in a furniture store at the mall to think. He decides he deserves better parents than the ones he's got (who doesn't?) and divorces them.
He travels all over the globe and finds surrogate folks which are not right for him. Not loving, caring, nurturing... or very funny or interesting.
His best friend from school is enthusiastic about the divorce and gets the word out to all parents that children deserve better and thing better change or else.
I was actually in physical pain watching how badly the film's plot is handled.
While it is a thrill to see Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus together as a married couple and action legend Bruce Willis in an easter bunny suit... believe me, it doesn't last. The bad outweighs the good. Oh, HOW the bad outweighs...
The big-name celebrity bit-players are many: Aykroyd, McEntire, Lovitz, Willis, Greene, Vigoda, Belzer, Stein, Godunov, McGillis, Ritter, Johansson and Arkin; among others.
Films with a big-name cast doing walk-ons is kind of tricky. Often this leads to a bunch of actors embarrassing themselves in bit throwaway roles for a quickie paycheck and "the sake of work." It all really depends on the film itself; the screenplay and director.
When a film with such a high pedigree of actors and filmmaker, Mr. Rob Reiner, you have to wonder why this whole damn thing went so incredibly wrong. And then kept going. And going and going. I am reminded of the legendary quote, "Only those who dare to fail greatly, can achieve greatly." And just about all who flaunt this picture have achieved greatly at one time or another. So... there you go. The Ying to the Yang.
The result can be "Traffic." Or the result can be "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues."
You know, it's funny. When I first saw the trailer, I thought to myself, "Wow. This looks like a good movie. I'm gonna see this one."
And yes, the trailer damn well made this look like a good one. It just goes to show you... advertisements can make anything look appealing. Hey, remember "Babe: Pig In The City?" The ads didn't make the movie look like much. But the movie was... wow.
Hey, come to think of it-- I would like to advise to everyone who was unfortunate enough to see any more of this one that what they used for the trailers (so much as a frame more) to go out and rent "Babe II."
It's an ideal antidote. Of course, you may need a few days of bed-rest and antibiotics right after seeing "North," but after that... please... don't let this one put you off movies. Or any of the truly gifted people who were associated with this abomination.
Wood is one of the most talented actors ever to grace the business and the man seems unable to do a bad job on screen. Just check out "Radio Flyer" for evidence. But hey, like I need to tell you, right? But while his acting is on-par with Brando, Guiness, Hopkins, etc; not every movie to come his way compliments his talents. Just after the disastrous misfire "The Good Son," this one floated it's way into theaters like a chunky, nutty, crooked turd after a whole year of improper diet. Adding further insult to injury.
Seriously, I actually picture Jesus H. Christ himself on the cross, thinking to himself, "I died for this... ? If I'd known, I wouldn't have bothered." We all make mistakes, even colossal ones. Even the best of us.
Hell, especially the best of us! Disney was an anti-Semite, L. Ron was a pedophile, R. Crumb is a racist and misogynistic sycophant. And I myself...
In summary, "North" is a childhood trauma that refuses to be repressed. For many, including myself. Don't let it be yours.
Still, we are all mortal. We are all human. We all make mistakes, we stumble, falter. No one of us are infallible. Rob Reiner has delivered us "When Harry Met Sally," "The Sure Thing," "This Is Spinal Tap," "The Princess Bride" and "The American President." Surely, can't we forgive "North"? "Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly."
And Reiner has clearly done both. Let us at this as one of humanity's greatest follies... and try to find laughter in it. Not at the movie itself, which is clearly impossible, but at the movie's expense. Laugh, my children.
Laugh, not with, AT, you see.
OK, Mr. Reiner. You are officially forgiven. I already look forward to your next effort behind the camera. May you achieve as big a piece of the rock as fellow '70's-era actor-idol idol Ron Howard.
Good luck, Godspeed... and let's hope--sorry, PRAY another abomination like this isn't in the works.
--Love, Dane Youssef
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