0 Pretzels. After the testicle song, I kinda lost my appetite.
That’s right. We’re ringing in the new year with a testicle song. I’d feel bad that the guy only had one, but he’s a Nazi, so does anyone even care?
No. No one cares about Nazi balls.
Look, when I realized we were actually going to watch this movie, I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as the book, which I ended up quite liking. I mean, the whole underlying theme is that Phinny and Gene are in love, but some deeply felt sense of inadequacy and internalized homophobia caused Gene to lash out just once, just one damn time, and it ultimately ends up destroying the very thing he loves; and it’s all set against the backdrop of a bunch of kids preparing to go to war.
That’s good shit. That’s a pretty rich story, you know? So I felt like the movie would be cheesy and probably a bit overwrought in a very specifically ‘70s kind of way. Damn though, I had no idea how absolutely awful it would be until the movie began.
When we had to listen to “Old Gene ” go on and on in voiceover while walking around the campus for approximately two hours, I knew it was bad. The narration finally, mercifully, came to an end while the camera focused on the back of “Old Gene’s” head while he stared forlornly up at a woefully miscast tree, and that’s when I knew we were in for an absolutely crap film. You know why? Because “Old Gene” was clearly wearing a terrible wig. It looked like the corpse of Norman Bates mother wearing a preppy overcoat, to be honest, and we end on that same damn close up. Is it a subtle acknowledgement of the horror we’re about to witness? Methinks the answer is yes.
If I’m being real with you guys the actual details of what happened in this movie are fleeing my brain faster than I fled the garage to get a drink the night we watched this movie. So, I’m just gonna list the main points that I remember for posterity and what not.
- Nobody in this movie can act. Or, maybe they can and just chose not to for some reason? I don’t know what their deal is, but I do know that I did an adaptation of Jane Eyre during my sophomore year of highschool starring finger puppets. Literally just my fingers with google eyes stuck on and mouths drawn in Sharpie. My slender digits shared a truly rich, deeply felt performance compared to the cast of A Separate Peace. I see now why the guy who played Phinny never did another movie.
- That one guy who played Brinker was easily 102 years old and clearly a cannibal. Funnily enough, he’s younger than Parker Stevenson. I looked it up.
- There’s a whole scene where a busy body group of teens in robes breaks into some kind of weird clapping, flapping performance of “Hitler has only got one ball” (It’s a real song!) that is stiff and disorienting even for a bunch of rich white kids. Why did that happen? It made no sense. How did they know who they were going to pick up and carry around? Did that guy also have only one ball? Was that an elected class position? If so, what was his campaign slogan? Honestly, it was baffling. Also, why did Phinny and Gene even go along with any of it? I guarantee you, if I’m ever in a situation like that and I get even a notion that a testicle based song and dance is about to happen, I will fight my way out. Forget missing balls, I’m ripping throats and eyes out.
- Which brings me to Gene. He damn near claws Leper Lepellier’s eyes out for no reason and leaves his “friend” curled up and bleeding from his eyes in the middle of a snowbank. Did not happen in the book. There was a section about dining rooms in the book. It was so good it actually made me appreciate dining rooms for once. Dining rooms have always been a notion that my feral, white trash ass considered overly fancy. And when Gene attacks, he has this stiff, arms out, hands tucked into claws posture that is almost identical to the pose I struck when I needed my diaper changed when I was a toddler. No joke. There’s a picture somewhere to prove it.
- That doctor was the worst. He was almost emotionless when delivering the news to an unsuspecting Gene that Phinny was dead. What an asshole this guy was. He just bopped by Gene in the hallway, was like “My dude, your boyfriend died of a broken leg because I’m not great at doctoring. That’s good though cause it’ll get you ready for all the death you’re about to witness when you go to war.” And then he just scoots back on down the hall to get a cup of coffee or some shit. The. Worst.
- Why were there so many crowd scenes with indistinguishable dialog that focused on people who were not even in the main cast of the movie? Were they just hoping that one of those extras was a better actor than the dudes in the movie? Did the cinematographer just get bored and start shooting random stuff in the middle of scenes? Did the director lose a bet, the consequence of which was that he had to make an utterly confusing film? I don’t know, my gals.
So, there you have it. Our second annual book club Christmas party and first annual book club movie night. The movie sucked but you guys were great and made it really fun. Next year let’s watch Like Water for Elephants or, hell, even Lord of the G-Strings. You can at least follow the plot in that one.