Friday, September 11, 2009

Crossing Over

I am willing to bet that most of you out there have never heard of the film Crossing Over. And that is okay. Really, it is. Your ignorance allows me to point at you and laugh derisively, which is an opportunity my ego appreciates. But enough small talk about your personal inadequacies. Let's get back to the movie by playing a strange sort of guessing game. In it, you will have to try to guess the quality of this film based on the fact that no one in the world has ever heard of it as I give you a list of true statements about the movie. Ready? Let's do this.

1. It stars Harrison Ford.

2. It co-stars Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta.

3. It was produced by the Weinsteins.

4. It was released THIS YEAR.

5. There really isn't a 5. That should be enough.

Okay. So, taking all those things into consideration, how bad do you think the movie would have to be for no one in the world to have ever heard of it, and the people involved in its production to have already forgotten about the entire experience, possibly due to some Eternal Sunshine-esque brainwashing experiment? Oh no. It is far worse than that.

Crossing Over aspires to follow in the footsteps of Crash, offering an honest take on a subject that is difficult to have a discussion about in our society (Racism in the case of Crash, immigration in this film). But it fails in this. Crash was a good movie, probably not Oscar-worthy, but a quality film. It had many central characters whose stories intertwined as the movie progressed, rather than the traditional, front and center Main Character. These people were fleshed out as the movie went on through a time-honored art of writing called characterization, a long-standing tradition evidently unfamiliar to those responsible for Crossing Over. This made them actual people about whom it was possible to care, getting the viewer interested and invested in the film. Crossing Over is what would happen if you took the script for Crash, translated it into Portugese using only Babelfish, then translated it back and made the movie without changing a thing. The people we see on-screen all are shockingly revealed, as the film goes on, to be exactly what they seemed to be upon first glance. Out of 8 or so main characters, only one of them even experiences something that could be viewed as a moment of doubt. I am not in the mood to be charitable to this steaming pile of script, so I will not give it that nicety.

Let's do some character studies. Harrison Ford, for example. He appears almost immediately in the film, and is quickly revealed to be The Good Cop, in the most stereotypical fashion possible. That is it. As the movie goes on, he never has an internal struggle. He is an amalgam of the Good Cops that have previously graced the screen, completely devoid of life. How about Ashley Judd? She works for the Department of Justice or Immigration or Something as an attorney for those oppressed by the cold-hearted US Government. As such, she has a heart of gold. Nothing changes this. At the end of the movie, her husband is arrested pretty much in front of her. She stares at the camera for about a second, then proceeds to continue adopting the underprivileged child she was already in the process of adopting, and never addresses the subject of the husband. How about the husband? From his initial appearance, he is clearly sleazy. He continues to be sleazy in the exact same unchanging manner throughout the remainder of the movie, even when presented with a clear emotional conflict by another character. At this moment of confrontation, what happens? He leaves the room, and nothing changes. These are not people. They are terribly artificial constructs of a scriptwriter clearly incapable of operating on an emotional level higher than that of a kindergardner. Any time the film wants to try to get the viewer invested in the movie, it simply has the Big Bad US Government tear apart another poor immigrant family. Unfortunately for the immigrants, their characters are as flat as a piece of paper from the script they were working from, and therefore are impossible to care about. Crash was the student in class who wasn't the brightest, but always tried really hard, so the teachers gave it good grades. Crossing Over wears a helmet to protect itself, and isn't allowed near sharp objects.

1 comment:

your mom said...

"Crash was the student in class who wasn't the brightest, but always tried really hard, so the teachers gave it good grades. Crossing Over wears a helmet to protect itself, and isn't allowed near sharp objects." This writing made me, as your mother, really proud :)