Second Glance: Part 3

Wow, work and family really got in the way of my Second-Glance-critiquing duties these past two weeks.  I feel guilty, leaving the fate of Scotty an open question.

HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT???

Fear not, all shall soon be revealed.

Dan and his buddies ditch and head to the malt shop.  (Or the local Friendly’s.  Whichever.)  There, Mr. Millner is one of the waiters.  Bitter and angry (I mean, a bit more so than when he was a teacher), he cites the kids “messing with my car” and being “all alike” as his reasons for leaving.  Arriving home, Dan discovers a shiny new car, that he bought with money he won gambling on football games.  His parents are divorced, his mom is dating, and Jenny was never born.  Nonplussed at this, Dan heads to Randy’s party with Tamara.  There, Melanie arrives to announce that she is pregnant and Dan is the father.  Tamara dumps his ass, Dan forces Melanie to admit she’s lying, but then Bull shows up in a jealous rage.  He chases Dan to the church, where Dan is magically made a believer again.  Angel Muriel explains the lessons Dan needed to learn, and Dan happily returns to his old life, asking Vickie out, and ending the movie with a hearty, “Jesus, man!”

Millner:  But, then, you’re all the same, aren’tcha?  A bunch of spoiled kids whose only understanding of life comes from watching music videos!  Hey! [to a waitress] Wait on these no-goods for me, will ya?

Ruby:  Yanno, I can’t work up a lot of sorry for the guy.  He was a jerk and appeared to hate all kids everywhere.

Angus:  And he busted Dan for cheating.  Falsely.

Dan’s mom delightedly heads off on her date with Wes.

Ruby:  She looks so happy!  Clearly getting divorced was the best thing that happened to her.  Are we really supposed to be upset about this?

Angus:  She’s cheerful and full of life and dating a nice guy.  What’s the problem?

Dan and Muriel have the following jaw-dropping dialogue, and I feel I must emphasize here that I have not altered the dialogue in any way.

Dan:  Hey, what’s up with my mom?  And where’s my dad and Jenny?

Muriel:  Your folks have been divorced for several years.  You see, it was your prayers that held your folks together when they were going through the tough times.  Since you weren’t there to pray for them, they split up.  As for Jenny, she was never born.

Angus:  Oh, that’s a great lesson for the kids out there: if your parents get divorced, it is ALL YOUR FAULT for not praying hard enough.

Ruby:  I can’t believe they want kids to see this movie.  Remember, kiddies, YOU are responsible for holding your parents’ marriage toghether.

Angus:  Do we even need to reiterate that Dan’s parents looked pissy and bitter when they were Christians, and now Dan’s mom is radiantly happy and dating a nice guy?

Dan:  Look, I’m not believing any of this stuff.

Angus:  *facepalming*  Okay, how much more evidence does this idiot need?

Muriel:  You had a big influence with Mr. Millner, too.  He really liked you.  Many days, you were his only bright spot.  Then he got frustrated with the other sudents and left.  Too bad, because he was one of the best teahcers.

Ruby:  *snorts*  Millner was one of the best teachers?  He seemed like a bitter asshole to me.  Nice comment on the other kids at school.  Like Vickie, who was always studying hard, and Tamara, who was doing everything she could to improve her grades, and really wanted to succeed.

At this point, Dan prepares for the party.  It is worth noting that he tumbled out of bed this morning in his orange t-shirt, and ran right out the door to school.  Now, his routine of party-readiness consists of: a) brushing his teeth, b) applying mousse, c) applying aftershave, and d) changing clothes. 

Ruby: *snickering*  So, no shower, then?  Not all day?  And no shave—just apply the aftershave?  Nice comment on high-school-boy hygiene, there.  I guess I should give the movie points for realism, anyway.

Angus:  HEY!  Okay…that’s maybe just a tad realistic.

At the party, kids hang out and talk.  Seriously, that’s it.  And this sequence…oh, I wish I could do video capture, but Angus needs to show me how.  A guy kneels in front of the fridge, grabs a few cans (I guess they’re supposed to be beer, but they sure look like pop to me), then triumphantly grabs out a whole ham.  The look of joy and wonder on the boy’s face at the sight of this ham made Angus and me rewind this scene four times to watch and guffaw.

Ruby:  I FOUND THE HAM!

Angus:  Beer and ham, that’s all the atheists need.

Ruby:  So true.

Angus:  This is the tamest, nicest high school drinking party ever.  The music is mild and low-key, everyone is standing around and chatting.

Ruby:  I always thought we might be missing something by not going to the popular kids’ parties in high school.  Turns out that my 11th birthday sleepover with the watching of Father Goose and making of our own pizzas was wilder the whole time.

Doug and Randy try to talk Dan down from the whole Tamara-and-Melanie situation.

Angus:  Wait a second–what the fuck is up with that wall???

(As with The Pretender, I’ll cut on here to insert my choices for Best Actors.  For most of these kids (and I do love that these movies so often feature actual teenagers in the roles of teenagers, and not people pushing 30!), this was their only movie, but there are a few standouts.  One is Doug, who is one of the few characters to react to everything going on around him, not just people speaking directly to him.  His cautious-yet-curious expression as Melanie and Tamara fight over Dan is especially good.

Another is the girl who plays Scotty’s sister’s friend.  That’s right, people, it’s time to find out…THE FATE OF SCOTTY!!!)

Dan sees Scotty’s sister and asks her to apologize to Scotty on his behalf for “missing their meeting.”  She runs off in tears.  Her friend confronts Dan:

Friend: You’re real scum.

Dan:  Why?  What’d I do?

Friend:  That was Scott’s sister.

Dan:  I know.  I was supposed to meet Scotty after school today.

Friend:  Are you on drugs?  This is a pretty low joke.

Dan:  What’s going on here?

Friend:  You know where Scotty is, you jerk.

Dan:  What’s the idea of calling me a jerk?  Listen, what’s going on?  Where is he?

Friend:  In his grave.  You know he committed suicide three months ago.  Why are you doing this?

(By the way, kudos to everyone who responded with their ideas about Scotty’s fate.  Many were far more interesting than the real one!)

(And, as I said above, kudos to the young actress playing the friend–a nice portrayal of calm, righteous anger.)

Angus:  *scoffs*  Oh, yeah, all atheists are depressed, right?

Ruby:  Witness to your friends or they’ll commit suicide, pray for your parents or they’ll divorce–being a Christian is exhausting.

Bull arrives to kick Dan’s ass.

Bull:  You guys go that way!  I’ll meet you out front!

Angus:  Damn!  Tactics from Bull!

Ruby:  He’s not nearly as dumb as advertised.

Angus:  Bull, though equally angry, is much smarter in this alternate reality.  Clearly, Dan was keeping him stupid!

A sorta-thrilling chase ensues, and Dan runs to the church for sanctuary.

And there, on the steps of the church, just as Dan is about to smell what the Bull is cookin’, everything changes back, and Dan is a believer again.

(You might expect, as I did, Dan begging God to make things right again, to parallel with George Bailey’s “I want to live again.  Please, God, let me live again.”  But if it happened, we couldn’t hear it, because the actor was talking very fast and slurring his words.  Natural when panicked, but makes it difficult to make out any prayers.)

Muriel shows up one last time to explain everything to Dan.  Again.

Muriel:  Still wish you were a nonbeliever?

Angus:  You jerk.

Ruby:  This angel is going to kill everyone while they sleep, mark my words.

Muriel:  Yes, Daniel.  Everything is now back to the way it was.

Ruby:  Be comforted, Daniel.  Your parents are still stuck in their loveless marriage, and your awful sister is still around.

Muriel:  I know you have an attraction for Tamara, Daniel.  But the Lord holds relationships most sacred. … The truth is, you’d like to spend some time with Tamara because you desire some physical pleasure from her.

Ruby:  And, as we all know, physical pleasure is just plain wrong.

Dan:  Man, it’s like you’re seeing right through me.

Ruby and Angus:  *both burst out laughing*

Ruby:  Yeah, a teenager interested in sex!  Who woulda thought, huh?

Muriel:  Let me ask you: the girl you’d like to marry?  How many other men would you like her to be intimate with before you marry her?

Dan:  Well, no one.

Muriel:  Then go and do likewise.  Wouldn’t it be great, Daniel, to spend your life with a person who was untouched by anyone else?

Dan:  Yeah, that’d be great.

Angus:  Huh?  How do you know it would be great to have an untouched woman, Dan?  You don’t know anything about it, either way.

Ruby:  Oh, please.  We all know that women who have sex before marriage are filthy lady whores!

Angus:  I just…I don’t see why it matters so much.

Ruby:  Yeah, I think that’s why we’re not conservative Christians…

Angus:  It’s all pretty unfair to Dan, too.  He seemed genuinely interested in Tamara as a person, not just doing things to get into her pants.

(As we talk, Muriel blathers on about “reaching people for the Lord…”)

Muriel:  People like Bull need you.  He’s never heard the good news about salvation.

Angus: *snorts*  Sure he hasn’t.

Ruby:  Pro tip, Muriel: it is all but impossible to grow up in this country without hearing about salvation…many, many times.

Muriel:  And I already told you how your prayers kept your parents together.

Angus:  Oh, yeah, we almost forgot about that horrific message of guilt for children…

Muriel:  And Scotty Parks?  If it wasn’t for you, I think you know where he’d be right now.

Ruby:  Yeah, and that horrific message, too.

Muriel:  The lake of fire is real, and many people you know are heading there.

Ruby:  I have more comfort for you, Daniel: When they die, Bull and Melanie and almost everyone else you know will be tortured forever for not believing.

(Finally, Muriel magics away Dan’s suspension from school, because “Mr. Millner figured out what happened.”  Okay, first of all, how, and second of all, this line is inserted so quickly that Angus and I both missed it on first viewing.)

The next morning, Jenny, the little sadist, once again blasts Dan’s alarm clock in his ears.  But Dan is so happy to see her that he kisses her, prompting a tweenish “Ewwwwwww!” from little Jenny.

Angus:  *laughs*  He’s finally found a way to keep that little monster at bay!

Ruby:  He should kiss her every morning until he leaves for college.  She won’t come within fifty feet of him for the next two years.  Victory!

Then Dan heads for school, where he gets all fired up for the Lord and the movie they’re showing, basically muscles Doug into coming to see the flick, then asks out Vickie.  (Well, he invited her to come hear all the stuff the Lord has been telling him.  Hot.

And there’s Scotty!  Not dead!  And the movie ends…

This one little line has spawned a bit of a cult following, and variations on the theme…

Coming soon…on to more Soon!

 

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Posted on March 26, 2011, in Completed Critiques, Movies, Second Glance. Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. Hoookay…

    So… the message of the story is that uhm…

    Atheists Get Laid. And girls will use that fact to claim that you knocked them up and everyone will believe them
    Atheists don’t have to worry about keeping their parents together.
    Atheists like HAM!
    Aaaand making it so you are not a believer just changes the world, but of course you aren’t brought up to speed, therefore ensuring that you can’t enjoy a damn thing.

    Oh, and the Christian ideal is apparently VERY close to the Muslim. (OK, so only ONE virgin as opposed to seventy two.)

  2. Welp. Between this and the atheistopia of SOON, the industry is doing a bang-up job of tempting me to the Dark Side.

    Of course, considering that my older brother is an atheist and I’m the annoying younger sister, I probably shouldn’t even exist.

    Oh, if I could only do video editing — I’d paste that final dialogue over a clip of James Kirk and Montgomery Scott.

  3. Ruby — would you be willing to email a summary of this post and have it included in “blogaround” at The Slacktiverse? If so could you reply to me hear or drop us an email at slackmods at gmail dot com.

  4. hapax: Oh, if I could only do video editing — I’d paste that final dialogue over a clip of James Kirk and Montgomery Scott.

    Oh SOMEBODY please do this!!!

    lol…. I so need to learn video editing….

  5. Yeesh, I thought Catholics were good at guilt. If your parents get divorced, if one of your friends kills himself, if a teacher moves to a different job… it’s all your fault! Clearly you need to be a Better RTC, and presumably give even more of your time/money/etc. to whatever the pastor tells you…

  6. Wait a minute…Putting the time frames together, Dan should have acquired his Christianity from his parents. But THEIR prayers/ideals weren’t sufficient to keep their marriage together. I’m not sure HOW fervent one can be with ANY philosophy at 8-10 years of age, so I’m not convinced Dan could have done THAT much in the way of persuading his parents to stay together, and as for prayer…Let’s just say that I thought the idea was gratitude, not sorcery (what, God wasn’t ALREADY throwing all the influence he could spare on it to keep the marriage together? This isn’t exactly doing favors for his reputation of omnibenevolence!).

    And if the party wasn’t even an Asterix-style orgy, just WHICH Cardinal Vices are involved here? Just Gluttony? (Note that Dan’s case of Lust would have been off-screen.)

    Perhaps we should get some Christian studio, NOT of the RTC alignment, to do their own version of Second Chances. Hopefully, it would focus more on the ideals than on the prayer and saved-ness…e.g. Scotty is warded from suicidal thoughts not by a simple aegis of salvation, but ideals that help him find worth in living.

    • The problem I see with the idea of a remake is that, realistically, you wouldn’t have the good lives of lots of people all depending on one fairly average kid having found God. Even if just one person’s life depended on him, that would make him pretty exceptional.

      • {sweatdrop} I wasn’t thinking in terms of full-bore dependence, as just a positive influence/beacon for their ideals…(Not to mention showing the filmmakers that there’s more of import to Christianity than just salvation…)

        • Oh, I see. Fair enough then. I think they’d probably dismiss you as heretical, but you’d be in good company. 🙂

          (I can also see the atheist version. See, kid, in this alternate world where you were an RTC, your parents are still together – Dad drinks and beats up Mom, but at least it’s a family! Your sister’s married the guy who knocked her up, instead of going to college. And your good teacher works at the malt shop rather than use a Texan-approved textbook.)

          • Yeah, this Christian youth film is actually pretty tame as far as portraying an atheist family. Here, the worst thing that can be said is that they’re divorced slobs. In plenty of others, atheist parents are abusive and/or neglectful and/or alcoholic and/or shallow/materialistic.

  7. OMG Ruby of the Bruce Barnes Deathdown?! HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT YOU HAD YOUR VERY OWN BLOG?! This was amazing. I am SO going to be reading your reviews on Soon. Oh god that book.

    • I’d just like to say that “Bruce Barnes Deathdown” sounds like a pay-per-view event… 🙂

      • Oh god it DOES. I would pay to see that.

      • sundaySUNDAYsunday! at AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, Raceway PARK! Also on PAY PER VIEW:

        The Bruce Barnes DEATHdeathDOWNdowndowndown

        No-holds barred CAGE MATCH!

        Ten theologians enter! ONLY ONE L-L-L-L-LEAVES!

        Who will win the title?!

        Also: Watch the FLAME-throwing Atomic NASCAR EAT a dozen SUVs! NOM!NOM!NOM!BOOM!

        The Bruce Barnes DEATHDOWN will

        BLOW

        YOU

        AWAY!

        And the mini-nitro-rocket funnycars for the kids! Bring the family! or call your cable company and demand your BRUCE BARNES DEATHDOWNdowndown on Pay-Per-View!

  8. This was amusing and narmy and all until Muriel started talking about Dan wanting physical pleasure from Tamara and how he should really want a girl who is ‘untouched’, and then it went straight to creepytown. Wonder what he’d have said if Dan responded that he didn’t actually care how many other people she’d slept with.

    …it doesn’t help that I consistently associated ‘Muriel’ with the old lady from “Courage the Cowardly Dog”.

    • My goodness, would you rather tuck into a raw cow like a Real Man, or have one of those fancy steak dinners that other people have been involved with?

    • Yeah, my first thought was, “if you really love somebody, and they really love you, then surely you shouldn’t care how many people they slept with before you?” And my second thought was, the fact that the RTCs *do* care so much about this doesn’t say much for their Christian love and forgiveness of sins.

      • Unconditional love without harping on past deeds? In an RTC? Don’t be ridiculous.

      • Inquisitive Raven

        Weelll, I think I’d want the results of the tests for various STDs first, but that’s a practical health concern. Other than that, it’s only my business if zie insists on comparing me unfavorably to past lovers.


    • Wonder what he’d have said if Dan responded that he didn’t actually care how many other people she’d slept with.

      “Error! Error! Does not compute! Does not–” *smoke starts pouring out of Muriel’s ears*

  9. Awesome review, Ruby. Now back to writing my Muriel/Mr. B Natural slash opus.

  10. Muriel looks like a Poor Man’s Doug from Weeds. Not exactly someone I’d rely on for life-changing advice.

  11. The cognitive dissonance in Muriel’s speech is truly staggering.

    “…the good news about salvation…The lake of fire is real, and many people you know are heading there.”

    • Well, good news in the sense of an escape route. Considering that dispensationalists seem to think that everyone has an at-least-subliminal sense of The Truth of the dispensationalist doctrine, maybe it also extends to a sense that they were born worthy of perdition simply by being someone other than God. In which case, a way to avoid peridition WOULD be good news in comparison. That is, good in comparison to the baseline.

      • The thing is, the belief “everyone knows that they’re damned, but most people don’t know they can get out of it” is both the only one that makes Muriel’s statement make any sense, and total fail on every level. (As Ruby noted, the list of people who have never heard about salvation=small. The list of people who have somehow heard about damnation but not salvation=probably blank.)

  12. I still can’t get past the male angel named Muriel. It’s so weird that an RTC movie would gender-bend like that. I guess what’s more likely is that the makers were just too clueless to even realize they were using a female name.

  13. You know, thinking about this again, it’s not what the angel says about Dan and Tamara, it’s the ridiculous, prissy way he says it. If he’d just said something like, “Dan, you ass, you just want to get into that girl’s pants. You don’t care about her as a human being at all, or you wouldn’t be trying to make her cheat!” and “The Lord hates double standards, you idiot — why do you think he said all that stuff about the splinter and the log?” it would have sounded less assholish. He comes close with that tart “Then go and do likewise,” line, but not close enough.

    But Heaven forbid (heh) that an angel should talk in anything less than awkward, stilted phrases…

  14. In the interest of playing necromancer with old threats, let me add my 2 cents to this one (hey, I didn’t read this blog yet when this was posted)

    1st, it was noted once in a comment in part 2 but I have to ask: Does Dan, or anyone, EVER question his new supposed role as unbeliever vis-a-vis his direct contact with a supernatural agent of God who created a huge miracle? Is that ever brought up?

    2nd, this is a hideous insult to Vicky. Dan is accused of looking at Tamara only as a walking vagina. As said, we never see evidence of that, but okay, let’s say that’s what he was thinking. However, the new and improved Dan immediately jumps ship to Vicky. Not because he learned to appreciate her friendship (there doesn’t seem to be any mention made of that), but because she is ‘untouched’. Essentially, he’s asking her out precisely because he sees her now as an extension of her intact hymen. This is just as bad, maybe worse, than what he Muriel claimed he saw in Tamara. Rather than “I think she’s hot”, he’s now trying to put the moves on a girl because “I’m the only one who’s got to touch her yet”.

  15. “Jesus, Man!” cracks me up every time I see it.

    It would have worked a lot better if the angel had quit while he was ahead and just stopped after a brief comment that intruding on Tamara’s relationship would be a bad idea.

  16. Chrissy Fredricks

    This is fantastic!!
    My friends and I are fairly conservative Christians, and we watch ridiculous stuff like this and make fun of it for laughs (our dialogue throughout was pretty similar to this blog). We also watched Pamela’s Prayer and The Appointment, which are both completely horrible. I’m going to check back on this site sometime and see if you’ve had a chance to review those, as well.

    I also have to recommend “Early Warning.” It’s from 1981 and not by the Christiano brothers. It’s about the beginning of the end times, and a Christian chick trying to warn people about the antichrist and all that jazz. The main characters are so irritating you hope they die, consistently make incredibly stupid decisions, and respond inappropriately in almost every situation (you know, like meeting the antichrist, being kidnapped, potentially starving to death in a desert, and the freaking world ending). It’s painfully hilarious. I’d love to see your take on this one as well.

    • Welcome! Glad you like it!

      Pamela’s Prayer was actually the very first Christian film I ever saw, so I will definitely be reviewing it at some point. I haven’t seen The Appointment, but I’ve seen the trailer, and am always interested in Christian films’ various takes on atheists.

  17. OH YEAH I LOVED RANDY’S PARTY!!!

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