Jarhead -- An Unorthodox ReviewDear Jake Gyllenhaal,
If I may be so bold, would you be interested in spending time with an older (way) woman who’s married with four kids? It doesn’t have to be anything long-term, or even a date date type thing, just one night where the both of us could relax, kick back with a few brews and some pork chops, perhaps a dollop of my homemade stuffing on the side and some of that delicious mashed potato salad I’m so famous for, and then, maybe, if you’re so inclined, you might consider taking your pants off and swinging on a pole for me. Only if you really want to, of course.
This has nothing to do with sex, per se, rather an innocent albeit totally inappropriate attraction I feel towards your glorious, glorious man ‘tocks. As much as I admire your mind, your phenomenal acting skills and dreamy blue eyes that exude lifetimes of wisdom, it is your backside that interests me most. I would very much like to have a deep and meaningful conversation with it, tell it a joke or two, regale it with stories of my wild days of yore, tell it my hopes and dreams, discuss philosophy, debate political issues. I could definitely teach your ass a thing or two.
I’m fully aware that it is completely wrong for one human being to objectify another, to look upon another as nothing more than eye candy, a plaything, a soul-less mass of flesh with no merit other than its physical beauty, but you see, while watching your latest theatrical efforts in Jarhead last night, my mind got to wandering, began mulling over such things as pork chops and potato salad, life, death. Uh. And your butt.
My mind wandered quite a bit during Jarhead, unfortunately. Despite the amazing accomplishments of all involved, your brilliant portrayal of a young, confused, angry marine, Jamie Foxx’s devastatingly good depiction of Staff Sgt. Sykes, to name only two out of the many laudable performances, there was, in my opinion, little else besides the beautiful cinematography, awesome soundtrack and terrific acting to hold the attention of most average movie goers. I totally got the theme of Jarhead, that Desert Shield/Storm was just as brutal an experience for those marines as, say, getting sprayed with toxic chemicals while trudging through Vietnam’s jungles on rotted feet, that those boys were prepared to do what marines do best, yet were not allowed to “go get some” because the U.S. now destroys its enemies using fast machines and big bombs, all aided by technology, not bare hands and killer instinct. Our wars now just ain’t half as fun, in fact, those boys were damn bored out there in the searing desert sun, waiting, waiting, waiting for their shining moment. And waiting some more. And some more... Jarhead involved a lot of waiting.
And the audience waited right along with them, hence my wandering mind.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make light of the awesome sacrifices our men and women of the armed forces make while defending our country -- I’ve nothing but admiration and respect for each and every one of them. Those who are fighting and dying right now, this very second, are heroes, plain and simple, regardless of what an idiot I feel their commander-in-chief is. And I can’t begin to imagine the horror the men and women of Desert Storm witnessed, the burned bodies, the undeniable terror, the physical demands, the deprivation, but let’s not forget the fact that compared to other wars, this was an “easy” one. Most of the enemy population laid down their weapons and fell to the sand in surrender -- oftentimes, our troops didn’t even have go looking for them, as hordes of Iraqis would seek out our troops with full intention of surrender. Take me away, thank you. Is that a Hershey bar you’re eating? Dear Allah, is that a bottle of water? Take meeeeeeee! Thank you. That war lasted a total of 43 days, and as your character glumly states, his contribution spanned exactly four days, four hours and one minute. And he didn’t get to kill a dang thing, darnitall.
Jarhead is not a film about dealing with the enemy, but a film that attempts to explore the enemy within -- the men depicted are fighting against their own inner demons, the demons of boredom, fear, the helplessness of knowing they are powerless against the blows coming from the civilian world, like infidelity (which appeared to be quite rampant during Desert Storm -- lots and lots of cheating wives and girlfriends, so much so, the men erect a “board of shame” featuring pictures of the nasty ho’s.) or missing the moment of their son’s birth. There is much dysfunction amidst the troops, as evidenced by your character, Jake, and that in and of itself should make for a riveting film. I love character studies, find the human mind, especially a damaged one, much more exciting than guns and bombs and car chases. However, this film fails to inspire my need to care about the characters. That’s right -- I didn’t care about your character, Jake. Or your best bud and gung ho spotter, Troy (wonderfully played by Peter Sarsgaard), or any of the others, for that matter. I felt nothing when tragedy fell, nothing when I should’ve felt even a little something, and you know why, Jake? Because the screenwriter forgot to include backstory. There are small bits that hint at some very intriguing lives, but they are just teases, no substantial meat. The writers forgot to create three dimensional beings who beg for attention not by naked asses and a few funny epithets, but by their stories. No matter how superb a character is portrayed, if there isn’t a story behind that character, a look into his soul, his experiences, then it is merely a sketch, pretty pictures to oooh and ahh over, but nothing to think about, nothing to make me care. It’s all just eye candy. Kind of like your beautiful derriere. Which, as you must have surmised by now, I enjoyed very much.
So, are we on, then? Pork chops, beer, a pole? Eight o’clock this Saturday would be perfect.