My mother would say of something that wasn’t up to her exacting standards, that it was “from hunger”. I couldn’t possibly trace the etymology of her obscure and idiosyncratic idioms, so I have no idea where this strange phrase might have arisen, but whatever its genesis, “from hunger” was a bad thing.
You see where this is heading–the biggest movie in the country three weeks running, over $300 million in the US in less than a month, and we thought it sucked the big one.
Here’s the truth: Hunger Games is brilliantly designed to appeal to hyper-hormonal, angst ridden14 year old girls. Oddly, that isn’t the demographic Gail or I fit into. You probably don’t, either.
This is a movie about a future dystopia which annually takes one boy and one girl, aged 12 to 18, from each of its 12 geographic districts and puts them into a winner take all, last man standing battle to the death. The heroine is, of course, a young girl. One who doesn’t quite fit in, yet manages to excel at almost everything she touches.
There is a boy she moons over, but he doesn’t requite her affection, or so she thinks. By amazing coincidence, he is the boy chosen to represent their district, and he admits that he has been secretly in love with her from afar. This seems to irritate her. Nonetheless, they kill all the other contestants, outwit the leaders, and win the prize.
It gets worse from there. This movie is like 1984 meets Romeo and Juliet meets Lord of the Flies. There are a couple of excellent performances by Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson. The young woman playing the lead is attractive and endearing without being so beautiful she would be off-putting to the prime demographic. There is tender true love, but no sex to endanger the PG-13 rating or make the young ones nervous. The violence is not particularly graphic, for the same reasons.
The sets and costumes are splendid, with whole computer generated cities that will amaze you. I want to grow a beard like the bad guy has, and have tons of blue hair like the announcer sports. Girls all over America will be taking up archery.
Hunger Games is mildly diverting, although it is at least 45 minutes too long. The pacing of the first hour is so slow it was like watching Swedish existentialist film from 1954. In Swedish. With Russian subtitles.
What it boils down to, I think, is that this movie is completely perfect–if you are the hormone addled, confused, alienated, lovesick teenager it is designed for. For the rest of us, stay home and watch Smash on Monday nights.