Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is He Cool? Or is He Just Pathetic?

Personally, I think Woody Allen’s character in Play it Again, Sam was pitiful. I am unable to see the cool in it at all. He spends his entire being and energy trying to imitate someone else. He is never really himself. Isn’t originality one of the things that we decided defines cool? Even in the ending scene (which I believe is there to attempt to give him some credibility) I don’t see cool—I see imitation. I do not define imitation as cool. Allen may finally shed his alter ego, but we don’t really see the results of that. We see him waiting his entire life to use a line that was even his to use. Plus, I do not think I will ever be able to take Woody Allen seriously thanks to his likeness to Napoleon Dynamite.

I mean, surely you can see it. I guess perhaps the likeness is not just in looks, but in their personalities too--pure awkwardness. That’s really all that can be said. Neither character is cool and both are social outcasts. Allen has his two friends, and Dynamite has Pedro. That’s about it. Each character makes a sad attempt to become cool at the end of the movie, but even thought the viewer may feel a little better about leaving the character, we know that in these attempts nothing was really accomplished. Yes, Allen’s quotation of Casablanca will go down in film history as a great moment, as will Napoleon Dynamites dance scene, but neither one of these reparations makes the character cool.

But, then you do you the other side. Perhaps this more of “cool sacrifice.” In the end, Woody Allen knows that if he and his best friend’s wife, Linda, stay together, he would hurt his friend. So, even before he knows that Linda has decided to stay with Dick on his own, Allen comes to the conclusion that it simply will not work between the two of them. Dick needs Linda more than he does. As un-cool as Woody Allen’s character may be, at this moment he emulates cool. (Of course, he then goes on to ruin it by quoting Casablanca/Bogart in the end). Woody Allen sacrifices his good for Dick and Linda’s good. Ok, so I will admit it—that is cool.

Sacrifice is used to define a character’s coolness fairly often. It draws the viewer in and makes them empathize with that character. Take a gander at Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia.

How cool is he?! And in the end, He makes the ultimate sacrifice. He dies so the Narnians may live to fight another day. I can’t think of a character cooler than that.

1 comment:

  1. The difference between any sacrifice Woody Allen's character makes in Play It Again, Sam, and the nature of Bogart's character in Casablanca is that it is made very apparent that Rick has made many sacrifices - for the underdog, for what is right, for what people should have been fighting for all along. Like any Woody Allen comedy, there is a very narcissistic side to anything Allen's characters do.

    Do you think there was any true merit in Felix's sacrifice? Or do you think it in someway served his purposes?