Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    Movies are seldom about life, but life is often about movies. Most cultural dynamics are fueled by stereotypes and those stereotypes are manufactured for us in increasing measure by film. There's a feedback loop where filmmakers chase formula and that formula follows from previous films and the stuff of this formula in most entertainment is stereotypes.

    This film is pure drek. The slide of DeNiro from great actor isn't even interesting anymore. What IS interesting, at least to me, is how Stiller is reviving a certain stereotype -- the warmhearted, weak Jew: the oddball anti-intellectual. When Chaplin played the tramp, it was a class thing. When Jackson plays a literate killer, its a race thing. The portrayal of Jews at this level is both: it seems unhealthy to me, and somewhat cowardly, much lower than the septic tank jokes.

    Instead of the Jew-doctor, Stiller plays a nurse who is belittled by `real' doctors. Instead of the banker powerbroker, we have Stiller easily ridden by the CIA guy (incidentally a John Bircher to judge from his bedtime reading*). His predecessor and still competitor is a Jesus-freak. He is bested by a cat. His name is derided. Shrewdness (that mainstay) is replaced by spinelessness and incompetence. His bumbling destroys an altar.

    But he still aces his grad school test, and once away from the WASPs becomes aggressive, so there is some hint that underneath is a `regular' Jew. These films have lots of managers, so surely this is engineered. I can imagine the pitch, knowing they have Stiller who can play this kind of part.

    Think about it. Not funny is it?

    (* For those who don't know, the book DeNiro is reading is perhaps the most influential screed on `global Jewish conspiracies' in the postwar US. Such stuff as: Eisenhower was secretly a commie Jew who gave half of Europe to Stalin.)

    ((PS This comment was written in the same suspicious-of-everything stance.))