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Monday, June 23, 2003


You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Bored Dept.

$62.6 million worth of American moviegoers turned out for this weekend's premiere of Ang Lee's big screen adaptation of The Hulk. Brimming over with hope from the pitch-perfect movie realization of Daredevil (in which I was so thoroughly convinced Ben Affleck was a vision-impaired attorney that I sent him a Braille application to Harvard Law School), I joined the masses in a celebration of all things swollen and green.

The Hulk, unfortunately, did little to diminish my affection for the khaki pants and fright wigs of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.

I know that it's bad form to review the movie that could have been instead of what's actually on the screen, but I've never been accused of being professional or fair. But as The Hulk dragged through its first third, I soon found myself mentally reediting the ponderous film into several smaller movies, each potentially more satisfying than the officially-sanctioned, blockbuster whole. There's a thirteen minute short comprised entirely of Jennifer Connelly in close up, furrowing her brow and talking about the scientific and psychological underpinnings of Bruce Banner's transformation into the monster. There's ten or so minutes of a wild-haired Nick Nolte's (crazy hair--it's not just for mug shots anymore) one-man show recreating the greatest hits of Charles Manson's biannual parole hearings. There's a five minute adult feature of Eric Bana's quivering, tortured face, showing just how silly men look at the moment of orgasm the last time they sleep with someone on the eve of a messy break-up. And, in what is perhaps the most dramatically charged of all the mini-movies, there's a face-off between Sam Elliott's five-star-general-who-spends-three-hours-a-day-on-mustache-maintenance and the aforementioned crazy-maned Nolte, wherein the leathery actors glare at one another and defiantly, throatily declare "The hell you will!" until one of them turns away, vanquished, exclaiming a defeated "Awww, hell!" No spoilers here on who's the first to blink.

Much has been made at how realistically the fifteen-foot, pneumatically-muscled green monster would be rendered by Universal's CGI artists. I can assure you the end result is impressive -- it's the most convincing, fifteen-foot, pneumatically-muscled green monster I've ever seen in a movie. The Hulk is no less believable a Hollywood creation than Michael Jackson's prosthetic nose or a Tom Cruise relationship. And the studio must have found some extra money in the effects budget, creating the most terrifying mutant poodle imaginable. You haven't known fear until your
wife's lap dog swells to five times its original size, completely ruining its expensively-manicured boutique poodle haircut and pedicure.

For all of The Hulk's shortcomings, at least I'll have the "Jennifer talks dirty science" movie in my head. It's going to be difficult not to get, ahem, swollen, every time I see a microscope or a rerun of Career Opportunities on HBO.

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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