By: Chrysa Smith
As a writer, I’m always amazed at what comes out of Hollywood. Taken, X-Men, Star Wars, Meet the Parents, Madagascar, etc, etc, etc. What do they have in common? Sequels. Makeovers. Lots and lots of sequels and makeovers.
Now, while I have actually headed out to the theater for a couple of them, I have to beg the question: Where are all of the new stories? What about all of those writers with all of those great stories to tell? And if there is a story to tell, does it really make for a great movie?
The most recent movie I went to see is Wild. In it, Reese Witherspoon plays the distraught daughter whose mother’s death (played by Laura Dern) has touched her to the bone. And rather than break down and eat or drink too much, or melt into an emotional puddle, she literally pulls herself up by her rugged bootstraps and heads out on the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail. It’s some 4,000 miles that ranges from Mexico to Canada, with much of the stretch through desert California. And it proves a challenge to endure both physically and emotionally.
I assume that planning such a solo trip consumes oneself. And that’s often a great way to avoid or break through emotional pain by in effect, keeping busy. And so it was with Cheryl Strayed . A ridiculously enormous pack and its contents demonstrated her naivety with hiking and surviving for months without the luxuries of our daily lives. And through her trek, she met people who were both scary and kind, making the journey a struggle and a passage. And through her bloody feet and disgusting water filtration episodes, she made it to her goal. She proved to herself that she could be alright alone. She could achieve her goals alone. She could probably get through her life alone. And that her rather wild life had led her to this wild journey that transformed her forever.
Sounds like a good story, right? It’s intelligent. It’s relatable, especially for those of us who have lost our moms or who are facing the daunting mortality. But two hours of a day by day or minute by minute or week by week or month by month diary of a woman dressed in hiking gear wandering through the woods, doesn’t make for great theater. In fact, the only thing wild about the film was Reese’s fine portrayal of this story based on a true story, and the fact that I was only sitting there for two hours, rather than what seemed like four.
But the slow pace of this film wasn’t the only problem. Immediately, I saw this as something very popular and familiar. It literally was the same story of Eat, Pray, Love. The story of a recently divorced woman who travels through Europe to disperse her grief. To find herself and her life as only half a couple.
Once again, it’s deja vu all over again. And personally, I’d like to see the same risks taken by these women, taken by the Hollywood studios.
The motto of this story? Not all stories make for great movie-viewing. There are new, wonderful stories that are not being told. And when I face the reality of losing my mom, I hope to not melt in an emotional puddle. I may not take a trip, but if I had my druthers, I’d opt for a European excursion, complete with comfy beds and a chocolate atop my Tempurpedic pillow.