Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chick Lit Meets Mick Flick - PS I Love You, the Movie

Do ye like me hat? I got it from the accordian player in the Quiet ManThere is now another reason to stock up on strong booze for Christmas. PS I Love You, the movie version of Cecelia Ahern’s massively successful debut novel, is being released Christmas week and, judging from its online trailer, it’s going to be a stinker of pandemic proportions.

Your constant quillsman has not read the original text, but he is quite sure that it in no way deserved the opprobrium heaped on it by an intensely jealous Irish media. Within the confines of its genre, the work was of a high standard, and the fact that Hollywood movie and TV people are willing to pay many dollars for rights to the material is a further endorsement of the author’s undoubted talent. Speculation that Miss Ahern owes this Hollywood interest to her father’s position is to show a touchingly naïve estimation of Ireland’s position on the world’s stage. Big business like Time Warner couldn’t give a fiddle-de-dee what sort of Tea-shop Ms Ahern’s father runs in Paddyland – all they want is product.

And more luck to Ms Ahern in her endeavours, although one feels that she will have earned every cent of whatever it is Time Warner is paying her for the book rights if she actually has to watch this movie as part of her contract. An Spailpín has only seen the trailer, and a harrowing ninety seconds it was. Someone, somewhere, seems to have decided that Chick Lit meets Mick Flick is the way to go, and this is the hideous result.

One has to feel for Miss Hilary Swank, who is not a bad-looking girl and has two Oscars on the shelf to underline her acting chops. It can hardly be easy to feel chic and glamorous when one is famous for portraying such unfeminine characters as boxers and, worse, boys, and it’s reasonable to assume that she snapped the hand off her agent when offered a leading role in a light romantic comedy, with an uplifting message to boot. Hollywood loves messages.

But Mr Gerard Butler as Miss Swank’s late husband in the movie. Oh dear. Oh no. Oh my.

Again, it’s hard to judge the width of the gap, if any, between the portrayal of the dead husband in Miss Ahern’s novel and his celluloid incarnation without having read the text, but it’s, again, reasonable to assume that if the guy in the book was one half the cretin, the merest trace of the gibbering moron, the vaguest implication of impossibly idiocy that Gerard Butler portrays in the movie trailer, then Miss Swank’s character would not be spending much time mourning his passing; rather, she’d be dancing on the coffin lid even while the ropes are lowering the thing down, high-kicking like the queen of the can-can girls at the Folies Bergère.

If you were to put every stage-Irish cliché in Hollywood history, from The Quiet Man to Darby O’Gill, from Finian’s Rainbow to, dear God in Heaven, Far and Away, into a bag, beat it with a blackthorn shillelagh and tie it up with shamrock, you could not create a mouldier mess than Gerard Butler’s portrayal of “a passionate, funny and impetuous Irishman named Gerry.” It’s truly Hollywood hibero-hideous in the worst possible way.

Gerard Butler gives it Killarney as soon as he steps into shot, gurning manically, grinning like the gold medal winner in the Chucklehead Championship of the World, and spouting line after line of the most ridiculous faith-and-begorrah stuff that it has seldom been my misery to hear. Well here we all are, aren’t we having the crack, sure laughter is worth more than gold in Ireland, and so on and on and on, until you fervently wish that maybe Mr Fintan O’Toole would come along and give us a thirty thousand word lecture on how the Celtic Tiger generation let down the legacy of James Connolly. And it's not every day you'd be wishing that.

Butler was last seen as King Leonidas in 300, so at least the producers are assured of a considerable gay turnout for his latest movie. But out from that, it’s hard to imagine sentient human beings wanting to sit through the thing. Miss Lisa Kudrow sleepwalks through an inevitable rehash of Phoebe as one of Miss Swank’s character’s VBFs, and the other Very Best Friend is Miss Gina Gershon, famous, insofar as she is famous at all, for her role as Cristal Connors in Showgirls. Showgirls was rightly laughed out of theatres on its release, but at least none of the dancing girls in that magnum opus were on stage wearing derby hats, smoking clay pipes and eating boiled beef and cabbage. For that small mercy we should be properly grateful.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,