Saturday, June 19, 2004

Sombrero Grande’s “Boner” Moments in Cinema Part Three: With a Vengeance

(Psst! Be sure to check out Part One and Part Deux too.)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

* “We’ve got top men working on it.” The final shot of the film, showing the fate of the Ark of the Covenant, is a brilliant way to cap off this rousing adventure. After everything we’ve just seen Indiana Jones go through to deliver the Ark, all the pain and suffering and near-death encounters, the audience sees it boarded up in a crate and slowly wheeled into a ludicrously huge secret government warehouse brimming with countless other identical crates to be filed away for who knows how long. Not only does this scenario amount to an ironic and memorable end cap for the film but it also provides its own thrill in my mind. Think for a moment about all those other countless crates. What’s in THOSE?

The Lion King

* Simba reclaims Pride Rock. Back in the 1930s, audiences were wowed while watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that mere moving drawings could be capable of eliciting such powerful emotions as sadness, anger and joy. This is a quality of animation at its best. For me, every time I see Simba’s slow walk up Pride Rock, reclaiming his place as the titicular “Lion King” as the rain symbolically washes away the death and decay Scar brought about (see the lone skull getting swept out of sight), I get the shivers. The music, the animation and the character’s story all culminate in this “boner” moment capped off by an orgasmic roar of dominance as Simba triumphantly reclaims his kingdom.

Made (2001)

* The hug. I mentioned this moment before in my Elf review (also directed by Jon Favreau), but I think it bears repeating here. The one shot with the little girl embracing Bobby at the end of the film…perfect. No words were necessary, no swelling of sentimental music, no saccharine crap that other directors would have felt it oh so necessary to enlist at that moment…that moment, the gesture touched me in a very simple and heartwarming way. Earlier on we saw the little girl being wary of Bobby but now her mother’s neglect and her need to be with someone she trusts to take care of her shines through in this beautifully directed and acted moment.

Toy Story 2

* The revealing of the “luggage room” at the airport. We’ve all wondered where our checked luggage goes at the airport on that little moving ramp, and the geniuses at Pixar dreamed up a doozy of an answer. As the toys follow the suitcase that imprisons Woody through the “mystic portal” (damn, I’m glad they worked those Pizza Planet aliens back into the sequel) Buzz remarks that all they have to do is “find that case.” I won’t spoil the jaw-dropping gag that follows, but let me just say that Mr. Potato Head “crapping” his parts out his backside is pretty damn near the reaction I had too.

Back to the Future Part II

* Revealing the future. Whenever the “future” is depicted in any film, the style of the world that is presented is always an amplified version of the period in which the film is made, so when Marty McFly steps into Hill Valley circa 2015 he’s really walking into a hyper version of the ‘80s. The actual future that is depicted in all its day-glow goodness is not so much what is important here and certainly not how this film earns its “boner” moment, but what it is that I am enamored with in this film is the WAY in which the future is revealed. Doc, Marty and Jennifer all arrive in 2015 during a storm that obscures much of their environment. Oh sure we see some quick glimpses of flying cars and floating signage, but the characters and audience really don’t know where they are yet. Instead of just flying into some grand futurescape, Robert Zemeckis feeds the audience only tantalizing appetizers, prolonging the big reveal as if we’re waiting in line for a ride at a theme park. Yeah, we’re in the future, just not up at the front of the line yet. When the DeLorean lands it does so in a nondescript alley. Plot-wise this is done so that Doc has time to prep Marty for his mission; cinematically this is done to build anticipation. There are a few hints here and there of the future--the Fusion Industries machinery and trash heaps of laserdiscs, for example--but the full deal is just yards away at the end of that alley in the direction that Marty keeps anxiously peeking over Doc’s shoulder. Marty’s slow walk out of the alley and into the full experience of the future masterfully reveals itself one piece at a time. What he sees could be anything, but it’s the way it’s all revealed that makes it feel spectacular and exciting.

Stay tuned for even more boner moments coming soon...

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