i was originally slated to go see march of the penguins yesterday, but mg was able to steer our group into a complete 180 and we ended up seeing a completely different kind of documentary, murderball. instead of seeing extremely cute penguins doing extremely cute things, we saw extremely uncute quadraplegics doing extremely uncute things. for those of you who haven't heard about this movie, it follows the trials and tribulations of the US quadraplegic rugby team.
this film, while probably viewed by most as a documentary on people in wheelchairs, actually ends up playing out more like a sports documentary. i suppose that there are going to parallels between these two stories. in sports documentaries, the athlete or athletic team overcomes some kind of adversity to achieve some kind of athletic or moral victory, which i guess is how you might view coming to terms with being confined to a wheelchair. however, the film did manage to not be overly cheesy in portraying these guys as people in a pitiable way. in other words, i think that the film makers did a pretty decent job of not turning this into a jerry's kids telethon. in fact, kb, who was also there, commented that she was largely unsympathetic at all to several of the characters.
while i'm glad that this didn't tug at the heart strings, i also kinda felt that was the weakness of the movie. it never went in-depth enough into any of the characters. for example, there's this one scene where one of the athletes invites the person who put him in the wheelchair (via car accident, a horrific sounding one at that) to see him play in the paralympics in greece. however, all we see is when they finally meet after being estranged for so many years and they hug. that's it. there's no interview footage with either of them, which is something that i think could have been really interesting (real quick, i have to confess, i was hoping for a reenactment of the leif garrett behind the music when he talks to that guy that he put in a wheelchair for the first time in over a decade. i still contend that this was one of the greatest 10 television moments of all time).
i suppose it's a lose lose situation. you really can't get to delve into the psyche of a person who can no longer walk without being a little sentimental about it, but then when you're sentimental you risk being trite and sappy, and even worse, exploitive. another problem that the film maker had to deal with is that the movie was not long enough to really spend time with any of the characters. overall, the movie was interesting and a little bit inspiring without being too sappy, but it definitely left me wanting for more. final grade: B-.
2 more things about the movie
1) i'm not sure how accurate this is, there are very few people of color involved in this culture, and almost no women.
2) i have to admit, i was giggling inappopriately several times throughout the movie. what do you expect when there's a film that features disabled people essentially beating the crap out of each other? i don't think that the film makers would deny that there is that whole elephant man appeal to the movie. however, karma always comes around, as when we left the theater, there was a kid in a wheelchair watching in the back. yeah, i'm pretty much the a-hole here.