This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Twilight.”
The Movie: “Twilight”
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 48 percent
Froemming: Since this is February, I decided we here at the JOE-DOWN needed to pump the breaks on the action movies and his the gas on a little bit of love. Indeed, we needed a romance story to go out on for the month that gives us Valentine’s Day. Last year we examined a story of desire between a man and his mechanical bull. This year, I wanted to look at a new love story.
So I picked “Twilight,” a film about young love, glittery vampires and the inability to emote along the way.
But before we dig into this film, Brown how was your experience visiting Forks, Wash. and all the pale people who live there?
Brown: You know, Froemming… we’ve made picks on this blog many times to try to spite one another. At times, I’ve thought you were a misguided jerk. But in picking “Twilight,” you finally evolved into a monster.
Then, I could smile knowing that while you may have tried to break me with this pick, you made the fatal JOE-DOWN mistake: You have to watch it as well.
And I’m glad you suffered with me because I think this ranks as one of the worst movies we’ve ever done. I know it’s popular to bash on “Twilight” and I thought it was passé. But no, this movie deserves the scorn it gets.
You ask me about my experience visiting Forks? I want it burned to the ground. So start us off so I can harness my rage.
Froemming: Well then, let’s get into it. The movie begins with a classic tale of a broken family and which parent has to put up with the moody teenager living in their home. In this case, the teenager is Bella Swan, a mouth-breathing yokel who moves from Arizona to Washington because her dad drew the short straw. Does she have a tan from living in one of the sunniest states in the Union? Nope, she is as pale as any goth buying black lipstick at any Hot Topic across the nation.
Brown: And right away, I knew I would hate Bella, just from her opening dialogue. One of the first things she says is how she’ll miss the weather in Phoenix. Not the lifelong friendships you’ve made. Not the mom and step-dad who are moving to Jacksonville to pursue his minor-league baseball dream. No. The (REDACTED) weather is your main thing. You terrible, vapid teenage scumbag.
Froemming: Having once been a teenager, I can attest that teens are usually vapid scumbags for the most part.
Yes, Bella is the new girl in town. And right away her dad gives her a nice gift: A pickup truck so he doesn’t have to cart her lazy ass all over. Was there joy on her face receiving this gift? If staring blankly like she has been dead on the inside after 40 years of Bukowski-esque binge drinking and failure is an emotion, then sure, she had that look going.
Now we come to what I think was perhaps the most strange aspect of this movie: Bella is the new girl in school and everybody….LOVES HER! What? Teenagers are scum and high school is like “Lord of the Flies.” This proved to me that the author that gave us this book and film, Stephenie Meyer, must have dropped out of school in sixth grade because nobody who has survived high school would believe this (REDACTED).
Brown: That bothered me so much. Not one second into her time at this new high school, this kid named Eric comes at her and is all like “You’re Isabella Swan, right? We’ve all heard about your arrival! You are front-page material for the school paper.” No. Just… no. Even if you are a town of 3,000, no one (I repeat, NO ONE) will make any sort of deal of a girl showing up mid-semester. And as a newspaper person, someone moving into town is not front-page centerpiece news. Not even George H.W. Bush moving into Springfield on “The Simpsons.”
Before we move on, we do have to mention that Bella receives the truck from an Indian friend of her dad’s, who brings along Jacob (Taylor Lautner), and he is wearing the most awkward long-haired wig I’ve seen in a character since… well, Sean Connery in “The Rock.” He’ll keep showing up in this movie because apparently a new girl in town is an aphrodisiac for EVERY person in Forks.
Froemming: To be fair, Jacob and Bella knew each other growing up, at least that’s what I think they said. I was stunned into shock at this point in the movie because, as you pointed out to me when you were watching the film, nobody emotes in this film. It is like watching cardboard cutouts of actors standing around with blank faces.
Brown: Before I accidently deleted my notes at work, I do recall writing at least five times: EMOTE DAMNIT!
Froemming: Anyway, Bella now has new friends (I was unaware Anna Kendrick was in this, which was conflicting because I like her as an actress and this movie is hot garbage) and she has a lab partner in her biology class named Edward Cullen, which is the dumbest (REDACTED) character name I have heard in a long while. Edward is immediately angry when Bella walks into class, much like I was immediately angry seeing Bella breathing through her mouth like a monster.
Obviously, this intrigues Bella into why this pale-ass teen is standoffish with her. Obviously if a guy doesn’t like you, you have to become obsessed with him, because that’s how stupid people who write terrible movies think love works. In fact, what I got from this movie is a shocking look into an emotionally abusive relationship.
Brown: Gee, how can you tell that Bella is so intrigued with Edward? Bella’s idea of emoting is vacant stares, a lot of blinking and that look someone gets when you’re trying to figure out if someone farted in the elevator.
I tried so hard to not make a bunch of “Kristen Stewart is bad at acting” jokes. But man, this part does her no justice. But, then it became a question to me whether this movie was a Master’s class is awful acting or if the actions and emotions was a director’s decision? I mean, Anna Kendrick was nominated for an Academy Award, so at least she has some chops. But the most emotion she shows in the movie is talking about how good her breasts look in a prom dress. I legit asked a bunch of my friends if Anna Kendrick was a good actress, because the only movie I remember watching that had her in it was “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.”
Remember in “Cowboys Vs. Dinosaurs” when I thought the town’s air was filled with antidepressants? That problem has spread to Forks.
Froemming: I have seen Stewart in other films, and she does a fine job acting in those. I’m willing to throw the director under the bus on the acting.
Speaking of being hit by a motor vehicle, a week goes by with Edward missing from class and he suddenly returns and is not a jerk to her for once. Then, after class, Bella is nearly hit by a van that somehow is skidding violently in her direction in the school parking lot and she is saved by Edward, who uses his super vampire strength or whatever to save her.
I wanted that van to smash into both of them, so the movie could end on a high note.
Brown: Maybe my favorite part of the movie is watching as Edward tries making up reasons for how Bella survived. He sounds like Sean Spicer at a White House press briefing.
Bella: “I saw you over by your car.”
Edward: “No, I was right behind you.”
Bella: “You stopped that van using your one hand.”
Edward: “You saw nothing. YOU’RE THE ONE in bed with Russia. FAKE NEWS.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that’s verbatim what was said.
In hopes of finding an answer, and because Jacob said something about the Cullens not being allowed on their beach like some ‘80s teen movie, Bella goes on the Google machine and looks up the cryptic things Jacob said. And somehow, she landed on vampires.
Oh, at some point as well, Edward fights off a bunch of goons/rapists going after Bella and his skin is cold to the touch. I don’t care. I watched the last 90 minutes of this movie with a vacant Bella Swan look on my face.
Froemming: Edward was just using …. alternative facts with Bella.
Anyway, this leads to some really awkward exchanges between Edward and Bella, including one scene where Edward says they shouldn’t be friends. It was the British version of “The Office” uncomfortable and I wanted to punch my TV for this enduring hell.
But Bella figures out Edward’s secret:
Bath salts He’s a vampire. The Cullen family are vampires who don’t age and are “vegetarian vampires” in the sense they don’t kill people for their blood, they just kill animals.
Brown: Oh my God, yes. That was perhaps the dumbest line I’ve heard in a movie. Call yourself alternative vampires or something. Vegetarian vampires? I just tensed up writing that. My rage is burning like a thousand suns.
Froemming: Then things got creepy for me at least. We learn that Edward was turned into a vampire in 1918. The guy is like the reverse McConaughey from “Dazed and Confused” in this film: Everyone grows older, but he stays the same age…and hits on teenage girls. The guy, remember, is about 90 years old in this film.
And not only is Edward into disturbingly young women, he also shows Bella why he and his family do not go out in the sun. Is it because his skin will melt like in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Nope, it is because the sun makes their skin….glittery. Like, 1970s glam rock glittery. What the (REDACTED) is that about? You know what? I don’t care, let’s move this along.
Brown: And again, a big revelation is revealed and all Bella can do is stare, mouth agape. I won’t make fun of Bella being a mouth breather because at one point in the movie, I was legit concerned that Bella had a sinus infection while adjusting to the Washington climate.
Another gripe I had during this reveal: They are trying to act all romantic while laying in a grassy meadow in the Washington forest. The Washington forest. The wettest state in the country. Have you ever laid on wet grass? That’s not romantic, it’s uncomfortable. I was also mad that Bella’s dad, Charlie, kept parking his police cruiser on his wet lawn when the driveway is free. Dude, you’re ruining your lawn for no reason.
Froemming: Outside this love story that should be considered illegal because Edward is 90 and Bella is 17…
Brown: To be fair, Connor MaCleod does the same thing in “Highlander.” I just defended this piece of (REDACTED) movie.
Froemming: The woman Connor falls for isn’t a teenager in high school. Still creepy? Sure. But not nearly as creepy as Edward and Bella.
Anyway, there are a string of murders happening near Forks at the hands of three vampires who just travel Washington state for reasons? This is sprinkled about, but you really forget about them because of the terrible the acting by the film’s leads is so distracting. But this sets up for a confrontation during a Cullen family game of baseball. Brown, as the sports guy of the JOE-DOWN, I will let you take this one.
Brown: This was just a weird sequence. First, the Cullen family (I’m shocked you never made a Manson family comparison, Froemming) dresses like the old time baseball skit from “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Then the have to play during thunderstorms because vampires are so strong that the sound that comes from the aluminum bats sounds like thunder. I asked myself, “Why not use wood bats then?” You can shatter aluminum but they don’t. Who’s to say they’d splinter and break wood bats?
Also, as a fan of the band Muse, I hated that one of their songs was used to score this bizarre scene as vampires scale trees and throw the baseball like literal bullets. What were they going for? The Cullens are as American as baseball and apple pie when they aren’t hunting deer down for sustenance?
Alas, their game of stickball is broken up when the extras from “Interview With A Vampire” show up.
Froemming: That would be James, Victoria and Laurent. And frankly, this got me a little more invested in the film because suddenly and without warning the plot began to actually move forward when James notices that Edward is protective of Bella. Was Bella frightened at this moment when she could have easily been ripped to shreds by vampires? I don’t know, she just stared and mouth breathed the whole time.
This sets up a chase: James is now after Bella and the Cullen family vows to protect her because…well, there really isn’t a good reason they should because this whole mess could blow their cover as Forks’ weird family down the street.
Brown: I really enjoyed that the Cullens likely had the same interior decorator as Cameron’s family in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” I was waiting for Edward to show Bella his dad’s prize Ferrari.
Now, as James (who looks like pawn shop Chris Hemsworth) hunts down Bella, I kept asking the same question for the final half-hour of this movie? Why bother? Is James’ plan to get into a vampire war with the Cullens? Why is Bella so desired by all these vampires? You have 3,000 other people in Forks obsessed with Bella… is everyone under her hypnotic goth spell? Why not hunt down more people in Forks instead of putting yourself in harm’s way. And when James acts as though he’s kidnapped Bella’s mom, why is Bella STILL not emoting?!
Folks, if you haven’t figured it out already, I won’t be recommending this movie.
Froemming: Well, Bella gets out of town and heads to Phoenix to hide. But James is on her trail. This was perhaps the most boring chase I have seen on film. James tricks Bella into thinking her mom is being held hostage. And Edward shows up and the two fight it out. Oh, and Bella’s leg gets all jacked up and James tries to turn her into a vampire. If it seems I’m rushing through this, that’s because I am. This was a terrible movie.
Brown: Then Edward falls into a dilemma: Let Bella turn or suck the poison out like a snake bite and taste human blood and potentially kill Bella because he won’t be able to let go. Dude, really? You’ve fought off drinking human blood since the Spanish-American War. I don’t care how irresistible you think Bella is, pretty sure you can power through it.
And, he does, although he found it difficult to latch off. He talks like he was a lamprey. And why be so concerned about Bella staying human. They never made that clear. I’m sure it was some allegory about keeping a sort of virgin purity, if written by a grade-school kid.
Bella won’t return to her mom, instead choosing her moody blood-sucking boyfriend who she’s known for, what, two weeks?
I’m sure we’re leaping over some plot things, but I don’t care. I know Froemming doesn’t care either.
Froemming: I wonder how she would break the truth to her parents. “Mom, dad, this is my boyfriend Edward. He is a 90-year-old vampire.”
Anyway, Edward and Bella dance in the moonlight at prom and we see Victoria in the shadows plotting her revenge over the death of James.
And I swear, Brown, if you make me watch “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” we will return to Forks for another round of staring, mouth breathing and bad acting. This is our Cold War.
Brown: Well folks, stay tuned in the future for “Twilight: Breaking Dawn.”
Froemming: And on that, let us tree jump over to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: This movie was not aimed at our demographic in any way. I wouldn’t recommend it. It is terrible.
Brown: No. That is all.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: