I’ve always loved junk food.
Heaps of sugar?
A high content of artery-clogging fat?
Bring it on!
Obscene amounts of preservatives?
The obvious explanation for my youthful good looks.
The faster the food, the more furious the gastric distress, the greater the appeal.
I have, in fact, been a veritable gourmand of empty calories since the age of consciousness.
The power of Hormel canned chili!
The glory of the Hostess Snowball!
And the sinful satisfaction of cherry Kool-Aid!
Deliver these evils to me, Lord, and I am yours.
I freely confess that from boyhood on, I have demonstrated similar taste in art, music, literature and film.
Now there was a painter, incomparable, unmatched…until, of course, Thomas Kinkade came along.
The Hollywood Argyles?
Who could have guessed that a bunch of unknowns recruited from a busy street corner in TinselTown could produce a wonder like “Alley-Oop”?
So glorious, so innovative, so original that decades after their first appearance, they have inspired a brilliant new television series.
Roger Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors?
An afterlife on stage, film and video rivaling that of Kryptonite!
When it comes to junk…
…I know whereof I speak.
And that, my friends, brings me to the latest entry in Hollywood’s on-going marathon of tent pole pictures—the supremely silly Kong: Skull Island.
Now, given the current climate of critical correctness, I probably shouldn’t admit that I have even seen the film in question, let alone that I enjoyed it, but I’m going to trust your discretion and ask you to keep my dirty little secret, secret.
Kong is an epic so vast in scope that it took four credited (and God only knows how many uncredited) writers to conceive and execute the screenplay.
Everyone knows that four are better than one…and no one knows it better than today’s corporate studio executives, who compulsively throw writer after writer at projects until they achieve perfection.
Well, these four have really delivered, creating a story that one of them claims was inspired by…are you ready for this?
It hadn’t occurred to me…until the writer pointed it out…but once he had, the comparison was inescapable: both are built around a journey up a river and climax in a confrontation with an unspeakable horror.
In the case of Apocalypse Now! the horror was Marlon Brando’s performance as Colonel Kurtz.
In the case of Skull Island, it is the battle between Kong and “The Big One”—the granddaddy of all the Skullcrawlers that infest the aforementioned island.
So this masterful new film has an honored place in our cinematic heritage…and just in case you, like me, missed the connection, the writers have named one of their characters…Conrad.
The character has the same name as that forgotten writer whose Heart of Darkness was the basis for Apocalypse.
The Conrad/Coppola connection is the first major contribution of this distinguished quartet of writers.
The second is…
They have not only made Kong bigger than ever before—he looks to be at least 200 feet tall, and of course, just as four are better than one, bigger is always best…
…they’ve not only made him bigger than before…
…they have made him the misunderstood hero of this epic extravaganza, the protector of the island and its people, their sole defense against the hideous Skullcrawlers.
This was a brilliant stroke on their part.
Because most of the other players in the story are about as colorful and exciting as yesterday’s dishwater.
(Even Sam Jackson’s energetic chewing of the scenery fails to make much of an impression…or much sense.)
When it comes to a character the audience can relate to, the big ape is it.
He even maintains good dental hygiene.
No gorilla breath for him, thank you very much.
Without his obvious conviction that cleanliness is next to godliness, we would never have gotten the intensely moving scene in which the heroine, standing on a cliff, reaches out and touches Kong’s nose.
It is a scene that rivals the unforgettable close-up of Romeo and Juliet’s hands reaching out to each other in Zeffirelli’s masterful adaptation of the classic love story.
A scene that recalls Michelangelo’s depiction of God’s hand reaching out to Adam to bestow the gift of life.
A sensitive moment so sensitively acted that I’m tempted to propose that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences create a new category for next year’s awards…
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A COMPUTER
Kong would eat his rivals.