Quick Movie Review: Thelma & Louise (1991)

thelma louise

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film that so beautifully depicts the great American road while also showing it’s unforgivingness at the same time. A dichotomy that’s a consistent theme in Thelma & Louise.

Two best friends fed-up with the men in their lives and looking for a weekend away, set out on a road trip to exercise their freedom. But along the way they realize that exercising their freedom may also cost them their freedom as well.

Thelma (Geena Davis), a somewhat naive young woman with a neglectful and unappreciative husband, is looking to let her hair down and live a little, while Louise (Susan Sarandon), a brash waitress who sits around impatiently waiting for her boyfriend to commit, is sort of the adult in the room with Thelma. However, both women are constantly looking out for each other, reinforcing each other’s bad decisions.

While it’s not usually too preachy, there are very obvious feminist overtones. Although it takes some subtle, and perhaps unaware, stances on whether putting a gun to a cop’s head and locking him in the trunk is not as bad as a truck driver making suggestive gestures at women from his cab. It’s not as black or white as the characters make it seem. And while men might relate to the characters otherwise, these types of quasi-contradictions may keep some of them distanced still–aware that perhaps the filmmakers’ personal opinions might be getting in the way of the integrity of the story.

But the true key to appreciating Thelma & Louise is to not quite put its characters on a pedestal. Instead accepting that they, too, make horrible mistakes. Maybe the characters have black or white opinions, but the film wants the audience to question them. Coincidentally, that’s the conflict that often happens when you’re out on the open road learning about yourself and about life.

Towards the beginning, not long into their trip, the characters find themselves in a honky tonk bar in their home state of Arkansas. Thelma finds herself dancing closely to a man, who later attempts to rape her, which eventually leads to Louise killing him. Fearing that the cops won’t believe their story, their road trip turns into a run from the law.

With the seal of crime now broken, Thelma and Louise now find it easier to commit even more felonies. So badly that they cause it to escalate into something much bigger than they had originally anticipated, unearthing aggressions that they previously kept tame.

Opposed to other road films where the events that take place on the road feel outlaw-ish and unregulated, this one features a manhunt for the two women, led by Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel).

At one point, Detective Slocumb states that eventually Thelma and Louise’s luck will run out. It’s funny to think that they’re lucky, when it’s a lack of luck that gets them here in the first place.

A road movie is far from an original concept, however Thelma & Louise manages to add just enough to it so that it stands on its own–putting it towards the top of the list. While candid and gritty as road films most often are, this story also has heart. Not in a sappy way, but in a way that lets you connect with these characters who find themselves down a rabbit hole.

Much of the emotion stems from Keitel’s character, who has empathy for these women and understands that it isn’t, in fact, black or white. While every cop in a 3-state radius is looking for them, Keitel is begging the girls to come in for questioning. Not like a normal movie cop would, but like he’s sincerely invested in their wellbeing. And he is. He grounds the film and shows that at least the screenwriter knows that not all men are bad.

Callie Khouri’s script is refreshing. The humor is so organic and the scenes never feel contrived.

And how the two leads manage the script is what makes the film take off. Both Sarandon and Davis are convincing. They feel real and you forget that they’re acting. Davis is transformed here, and her character continues to do so seamlessly over the course of the movie.

The film creates such a cool vibe that lets us know we’re still holding onto the 1980s. It was released in 1991, but most everything about it screams “’80s”. Proving that the ’90s didn’t fully kick into gear until ’92 or ’93.

It was a time with real maps and no cell phones. For this and less obvious reasons, Thelma & Louise simply couldn’t be made these days with the same clamor or spirit.

My biggest gripe is that it doesn’t quite give us the ending we want. Instead, giving us one that doesn’t make as much sense, and that doesn’t properly justify some of the events leading up to it.

But Director Ridley Scott does an excellent job, otherwise, of making a film that will evoke any memory of an amazing road trip through the United States. Which is interesting, considering how the story is somewhat about misfortune. But it’s also a little about the personal growth that comes out of that misfortune. A bittersweet lesson that the road won’t ever let us forget.

Twizard Rating: 100

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Quick Movie Review: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

terminator2

The memory of Terminator 2 from my childhood is a foggy one, but I remember, as a child who couldn’t have been any older than 10, that I really liked this movie. There were scenes that, to this day, have stuck with me. I remember the ending almost shot-for-shot as I rematch it some 16 years later.

I like the first Terminator film a great deal, but it has that ’80s feel to it and it’s very dated. But the 1991 sequel is ahead of its time. And 24 years later, It holds up perfectly–just as my memories of it as a child.

In this movie, a cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger), looking exactly like the one who tries to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in the first film, is sent back to the past to protect her son, John Connor (Edward Furlong), who is being hunted down by a more advanced evil cyborg (Robert Patrick) who can morph into any person or metal object.

The plot is more developed and longer. We realize that there is more at stake here. We know the background already and know who must live and who must die. At 2 and a half hours, the movie never seems to overstay its welcome.

Schwarzenegger has never been more perfect for any role he’s played. He’s truly at his best and even displays his comedic talents. Patrick, playing the main antagonist, creepily stalks Sarah and John throughout the whole movie, evoking true fear from the audience.

This is a near-perfect cinematic experience. It’s one of my favorite films and it’s even better watching it with more context than when I was a child.

Twizard Rating: 100

Quick Movie Review: City Slickers (1991)

city slickers

I always say that even the worst movie is good if it has Billy Crystal in it. And although Crystal helps make this film what it is, along with a great supporting cast, it’s really a nice story. It’s about a man’s second coming-of-age and it’s about camaraderie and second chances.

The comedy is slightly irreverent and jarring, as it is partially a satire. It juxtaposes tragedy with humor, but that goes along with the film’s theme of “That’s life!” And although the intermittent jokes may disrupt and off-put the film’s tone at times, the build up to the 3rd act is well worth the wait.

Even if the humor is not for you, the story is undeniably charming. If I ever get to the point in my life where I’m facing a midlife crisis, I will be sure to queue up City Slickers.

For a comedy, the writing in this movie is superb. There aren’t any silly plot holes or goofs that stand out. This film just doesn’t do anything to annoy you.

With circumstances that are easily related to and fun in-jokes you feel like you’re on the journey with them. And as someone who hasn’t yet gotten to their midlife crisis, this movie makes me realize that it won’t be so bad.

Twizard Rating: 96