Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Normally, when Neill Cumpston joins me for a movie, I have to pick him up at his house in Sherman Oaks. I’ve met both his parents at the door a few times, and they seemed like nice people. A little older than I expected, but sweet. Tonight, though, I picked up Mrs. Moriarty from work and then had to contend with almost an hour on the 405 to make it to The Bridge in time for the 7:00 screening. When I got inside the giant IMAX theater, I scanned the crowd for Neill. I had left his name so that he had his very own press passes waiting for him when he showed up. I figured that would make him feel big-time. But I didn’t see him in the crowd, and I know the way he is... he likes to show up as early as he can. What’s weird is after my wife and I found our seats, I saw a little lady in her mid-60s who I thought looked a little like Neill’s mom. I figured that was impossible, though, and after the film, I didn’t see her again. So when I got home, I found an e-mail waiting for me, addressed to “Mr. McQweeney.” From a Nell Cumpston. And sure enough, it’s Neill’s mom. She explained why he wasn’t at the screening, and she told me that she’d gone in his place. So it was her I saw. That’s so weird. And the thing of it is, she’s a pretty good reviewer. I’m not sure I agree with her take on SPIDER-MAN 3, but I certainly understand it. I just got off the phone with Neill, verifying that it was, in fact, his mom who wrote in. And out of curiosity, I asked what her favorite film so far this year is. I heard her answer in the background: “That WILD HOGS was a stitch!” I give you Nell Cumpston:
Spider Man Part Three As I said in my electronic e-mail to “Moriarty” (a code name! I hope I don’t go to “spy prison”!) Neill got bad poops after having fish tacos at Rubio’s (I always get the Southwestern Chicken Salad without the tortilla chips ‘cuz “chips go to the hips” – ha ha!) and couldn’t attend the screening of Spider-Man Part 3 at the IMAX theater at The Bridge. So he asked if I would go, and turn in this review for him. I wasn’t anxious about missing American Idol tonight (I’m a die-hard “Blake Lady”!) but Neill promised he’d videotape it and, since he’s ensconced securely on the living room couch (Mr. Pilkington, my stuffed giraffe, wasn’t too happy about being relegated to the ottoman, I can tell you that!) he also said he’d “pause out” the commercials. Trade off accepted, Neill Mampleford Cumpston (he hates when I use his middle name)! Well, let me be the first (apparently, being “first” is a big deal on this internet web dealie-do) to tell you that Spider Man Part Three is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen! And I’ve seen my share, everything from Funny About Love to Parenthood! And this Spider-fellow’s got them beat! One of my favorite shows is One Tree Hill (call me young at heart!). Well, this new movie is like three episodes of One Tree Hill put together! Unlike those first Spider-Man movies (which would sometimes play on TV at the senior center right before our Movement to Music class) this one isn’t full of yelling and punching and running fast. In this one, the director finally focuses on the kinds of things I think Spider-Man fans have been aching for…namely, love and forgiveness! (Coincidentally, the names of my belated tabbys!) There’s only about twenty-five minutes of actual Spidey footage in this movie – which makes all kinds of room for: That darling Mary Jane singing (two songs!) Peter Parker crying Harry Osbourne crying Harry Osbourne hearing Willem Dafoe’s voice through a huge painting of Willem Dafoe, and then getting yelled at by Willem Dafoe This old servant of Harry’s suddenly walking into frame during the third act and explaining a lot of stuff that frankly I was confused about – it didn’t even bother me that I didn’t know who the old servant was – I love it when old people explain things slowly and carefully in movies Harry Osbourne and Mary Jane cooking an omelet and dancing to Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (my favorite part) The Sandman crying Eddie Brock crying Mary Jane crying Aunt May crying Bruce Campbell, from the Evil Dead films, doing a hilarious French accent! The scene goes on for nine minutes, but you could tell the audience wanted it to go on sooooooo much longer, the way they sighed heavily and rolled their eyes when it was over! It’s not as funny as the French accent my late husband, Niles, used to do at charade nights, but it came pretty darn close! Peter Parker doing a sly “revenge jazz dance” in front of Mary Jane when she’s trying to sing at one of those modern jazz clubs that Spider-Man fans love so much. This scene also ended way too soon, to make room for some fighting. And yes, I might as well tell you, there ARE a few action scenes that get in the way of all the interesting stuff between the characters and their relationships and their ordinary, every-day lives. First, there’s a fight between Peter Parker and Harry Osbourne (he’s something called the New Goblin, and he rides one of those fun-looking skateboards like in the Back to the Future sequels) that kicks off the movie. It’s far and away the most exciting sequence in the movie (the audience applauded!) and Peter doesn’t even put that silly Spider-man costume on, so we get to see his wonderful facial expressions and mouth-acting. There’s also a new villain played by the wonderful Thomas Haden Church – The Sandman. He’s a shape-shifting baddie who’s daughter is dying so, even though he gets put through some pretty crazy action sequences, there’s plenty of opportunities for him to look sad and cry about things. I wish they’d worked in a line where he’s crying, and says, “I’ve got sand in my eye.” Maybe on the DVD. What’s smart about putting the Spider-man/New Goblin sequence first is that none of the other action sequences are as exciting, so you can relax and enjoy Peter and Mary Jane’s kooky, mixed-up relationship! There’s a lot of wonderful scenes of them misunderstanding each other, and not explaining one obvious and simple thing, which would clear up their problems (and, let’s face it, make a pretty boring movie!) There’s at least six scenes of them calling each other on the telephone, and one of them almost picking up, or just listening to answering machine messages, and misunderstanding those. I was on the edge of my seat! Of course, you have to sit through a few more dreadful “action” sequences, but luckily they don’t go on very long and, even better, rarely involve people you care about. They introduce this new girl, Gwen Stacy, who’s a model or something. There’s one scene that starts off promising – a comedy scene where she’s doing a modeling job for a copying machine (I mean, the very idea! I was cracking up!) and the photographer is, shall we say, a little “fruity”. Well, all of this great comedy gets ruined when an out-of-control crane starts smashing up the building, and she falls out, and Spider-man swings by and saves her. But she’s only in a few more scenes, and ends up having almost nothing to do with the plot. I wanted to see more of that kooky photographer! Peter’s Aunt May also gets a lot more screen time in this installment, and she’s always giving heartfelt advice. It’s good to see a superhero movie finally giving some consideration to us “silver tops”! In fact, I wish they’d consulted this “silver top” about the Venom character. He’s like an evil, gooey Spider-man, but it didn’t work for me. Which was too bad, since the Venom plot is introduced so brilliantly – Peter and Mary Jane are necking in the woods, and the gooey Venom stuff falls out of the sky, unexplained, next to them. But it gets better – it turns out, Venom is some sort of alien goo that attaches itself to you and makes you super-powerful, and also kind of evil. Our niece, Orudis, used to swallow these charcoal tablets to help her digest food. But it turned out later she was also eating her hair, and at Harriet’s cookie exchange party she coughed up this huge gob of hair and charcoal and that’s what the Venom stuff looks like in the movie. I wonder if, when the Venom stuff attaches itself to you, it makes you draw penises that look like knives the way Orudis did. Although, in this movie, the Venom substance makes Peter evil, which you can tell because he gets one of those “Emo” haircuts and a black suit – not just his Spidey suit, which turns black, but one of those suits you always see Paris Hilton’s boyfriends wearing. And he walks down the street like a black person, and winks at girls a lot. It was like Hannibal Lecter or that Simon Cowell fellow, who should have been nicer to Haley because she was a Christian. I should warn you – the ending is another one of those dreary, hard-on-the-eyes-and-ears battle royals, with Sandman and the gooey black Spider-man (not Peter anymore, but this character named Eddie Brock) battling Spider-man at a construction site. Luckily, it ends the way a good action sequence should end – with one major character dying, and four other characters standing around, crying and apologizing for everything that’s happened. I’m not kidding – I was so touched, and I can’t wait for all the Spidey-fans to experience this beautiful, slowly-paced sequence for themselves. Bring your Spidey-hankies! Also, I was very glad to see the whole plotline about the Sandman and his dying daughter was ignored at the end, as if it never happened. Summertime is for happy stories! A dying little girl belongs in an Oscar movie, am I right? So, to sum up my review, I didn’t think I’d like this movie as much as I did. It will certainly give Georgia Rule and License to Wed a run for their money!