John G. Young
USA – 15 July 2005
UK – 30 March 2006
2005 L.A. Outfest: Grand Jury Award, Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film – Darien Sills-Evans
So, as a reasonably creative person…you will note that I don’t use the word “creative” as a noun. I hate that. I believe that anyone who refers to themselves as a “creative” should immediately be introduced to a “homicidal.”
What was I saying? Oh yes, as a reasonably creative person I have noticed a phenomenon. I have noticed that I will invent a term, concept, or an idea that I think is completely original, only to find out that someone else has come up with the same term/concept/idea already. Bugs the living poop out of me.
One example would be the Random Movie Review. If you put the term “Random Movie Review” into Google you will find lots of websites and blogs that have Random Movie Reviews or some variant of the term. I didn’t let this discourage me because nobody else is going to write what I write, also if you look at how they use “random,” the ones I’ve seen aren’t technically picking movies entirely at random.
But this sort of thing happens a lot, especially now with the internet. I have an idea that I think is all me, then I put it into Google and somebody else already thought of it. This makes me wonder if I have ever had an original idea in my life.
Here’s the most recent example, I coined a term for movies like The Reception: A broccoli movie. It’s well made, good performances, etc. It’s good for you. You’re not going to buy the DVD so you can put it on at the end of a long day like you might with your favorite comedy, but it’s a good movie that one might watch with friends and have a salon discussion about afterwards.
So, here I am with my great new term, ready to make film review history when – as an afterthought – I decide to do a quick Google search of “broccoli movie.” I’m thinking that all my search will come up with are the 007 films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and other movies produced by Cubby Broccoli. Right?
Broccoli Movies are movies that are good for you. You SHOULD see them because they are exceptionally well-done, artistic, have a great message, are fine examples of a film legend’s work, were very influential for later beloved films and filmmakers, etc. And like broccoli they can be a chore to consume. In the worst case scenario, you might find them “yucky.”
Popcorn Movies are fun. They’re tasty. They aren’t good for you in the least, but who cares? They’re why we go to the movies in the first place, right? To entertain us? Anyone can do that math: Movies + Popcorn = A Perfectly Good Time.
Since I actually liked what Mr. Wildman (how cool would it be to have a last name like that?) had to say, I didn’t explore any further to see if anyone else had used the phrase. I’m giving it to him.
Anyway, all that is to say that The Reception falls in the broccoli category. Made by friends with a very low budget, it’s a bit like a four person play. One of those plays where the characters have to face hard truths about themselves and their motivations, then there’s a major conflict followed by a cathartic conclusion in which they have to continue living their lies or face the truth…or poke their own eyes out, whatever works.
Martin and Jeannette live together in an old house in upstate New York. He is an African American artist, and she is a French woman who is a bit older than he is and is of independent means. At first they appear to have settled into a comfortable domesticity (is that really a word?) domesticness? domestocity? Every morning Martin gets up early and goes out to the carriage house where he has his studio and works on building up his portfolio. Later in the day Jeanette trudges across the snow and brings Martin coffee but doesn’t set foot in the carriage house. That’s Martin’s space.
At night they snuggle together on the couch reading. There doesn’t appear to be a TV in the house. Upper class people never watch TV in movies, ever notice that? Especially if they’re upper class and French. Somehow I can’t imagine hoity toity French Jeannette yucking it up over Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory: “Oh, that Sheldon ees so crazeee. I meeen, hee ees no Jerry Lewis but…”
I kid the French. I kid because I love.
Anyway, one day Jeannette’s daughter Sierra shows up out of the blue. Well, out of the gray, because it’s winter. This is a surprise because Jeannette and Sierra haven’t spoken for a long time. Another surprise is she has a new husband with her, a young black man named Andrew.
Jeannette immediately starts planning a reception for Sierra and Andrew, hence the title of the movie. Andrew initially appears to be a bit of a snob, calling their house “small” and refusing to drink WalMart coffee (can’t say I blame him for that), but all is not as it appears. Over the next few days secrets and lies will be exposed, characters true motives will be revealed, and relationships will be tested, but *spoiler alert* no eyes will be gouged out.
The movie deals with race, class, the nature of modern relationships and expectations, and sexual orientation. It’s well made, especially impressive when you find out how little money they made it for, basically the budget for coffee on most movies. The actors all do a good job. Like I said earlier, it’s basically a four person play with a few extras at a party and one more character thrown in to stir the pot.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
It’s broccoli. Maybe slightly easier than broccoli…broccoli with cheese sauce. I’m giving it a…
Random Quote Whore Quote:
The Reception is an anonymous, content, aftereffect of a movie! Wayne Lamont Sims is hoary!!!
By the way, I don’t dislike broccoli. When I was working produce at the evil store, however, I had to clean the shelves underneath the bulk vegetables though, and the broccoli got really nasty. So one time we were having dinner at my sister’s and I passed on the broccoli, stating that because of my job I was sick of broccoli. Iris didn’t miss a beat, she said, “How much broccoli do you have to eat at work?”