Well, I Plan On Getting Drunk: A Review Of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Three years ago I was talked into seeing a movie called Twilight (2008). I hardly knew a thing about it when I walked into the theater that fateful November night.

Then I saw it. Good Lord. I’ve always loved movies that don’t work, but Twilight brought this kind of dysfunction to a hysterical level. During one of its climactic scenes vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) mutters to his new girlfriend, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), “You don’t know how long I waited for you.”

I thought, “No. You’re wrong. You have no idea how long I‘ve waited for you.”

Twilight and its successors- New Moon (2009), Eclipse (2010) and now Breaking Dawn – Part I – are the crown jewels of what I’d consider the funniest and most upsetting film experiences of my life. They truly are the shit creek of the mainstream, summing up everything the original Holy Shrine was about in the first place. Then there are the books, which are even shittier. I was stunned that this was even possible.

However, nothing as shitty as the Twilight series has made my friends and I more creative. Most of this was documented on the now defunct Singing Fish, our collaborative blog. Its influence was massive. The series ended up in our field recordings, our art and collages, our videos, our phone messages and Twitter account (make that two), even our firework displays. Ilana turned the comic adaptation into a coloring book, for God’s sake. Also, did I mention we riffed Twilight and New Moon? That was no easy task. We may have loathed the series, but we were committed.

I am relieved to write that this series is closer to pounding its last nail in the coffin (no pun intended). The final installment of this “saga,” Breaking Dawn – Part 2, is slated for release in November 2012. Then it will be over.

Am I sad about this? Well, no. Anticipating Twilight movies has been far from the foremost thing on my mind. I leave that to the TwiHards, or, even worse, the TwiMoms. But if anyone thought I’d forget to kick the penultimate chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s misogynist fantasies in the taint, then they had another thing coming.

What follows are my observations and scribbled notes I took during a screening of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 this morning.

– – –

1) Okay, thirty seconds into the film and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has taken his shirt off. Somewhere someone has lost a bet.

2) Edward decides to come clean about his past as a killing machine with Bella. This is weird because he already revealed this to her in the first movie (of course, she responded to it like an aphrodisiac). Then he says, “All the men I killed were molesters” and I burst out laughing. What a poor choice of words.

(NOTE: I have since been told that the actual line was: “All the men I killed were monsters.” I don’t care. If that’s the case then Edward Cullen supplied me with my favorite misheard line of all time.)

3) Emmett (Kellan Lutz) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) show up at Bella’s house to take Edward to his bachelor party. Bella asks if there are going to be strippers and Edward responds, “No, just some mountain lions and bears.” Then I got confused and wondered if the three of them were going to dash off and fuck some bears all night long. Seeing how excited they were I’d guess the answer is a definite yes.

4) Keeping the tradition of “Bella Doesn’t Do Anything Ever” we are treated to a wedding where the bride doesn’t lift a finger to help with planning or preparations. Everyone caters to her needs and fusses over how special she is while she murmurs at her feet and tugs at her hair. This would annoy me but Bella’s uselessness has become so pervasive I don’t feel anything anymore. I just go numb. Honestly I think the sex doll in Lars and The Real Girl (2007) has more merit as a character and contributed more to society.

5) Since Breaking Dawn is mostly a dream sequence happening in Stephenie Meyer’s head the last thing we need is a dream sequence within a dream sequence. But they give us one anyway, ending with most of the series’ actors in a big bloody pile. I bet that was wonderful day on set. And by wonderful I mean “awkward.” Also, Robert Pattinson is trying not to laugh at it.

6) Every time Charlie (Billy Burke) appears onscreen isn’t just gold anymore, it’s fucking platinum. I sincerely love this guy. He is the only character in the series I care about, mostly because he is the only one with a functioning brain. Whether he’s scrutinizing the Cullens’ collection of graduation caps or striding into a room and deadpanning, “Yeah, I know I look hot,” all I know is he is a godsend.

(Notice how I’m using a picture of Charlie for this review, not of other characters? That’s because he is the only character I can stand to look at right now.)

7) So Stephenie Meyer is a guest at a fictional wedding she wrote. And so is that serial killer from Dexter? Apparently he is a pimp now. This guest list is sooo messed up.

8 ) Longest wedding kiss ever. I’m thisclose to throwing my box of Dots at the screen. Seriously guys, get a room. Or at least a gazebo.

9) Wait, Charlie is back. He’s like, “Well, I plan on getting drunk.” I didn’t know that Mushtache Dad was telepathic. He is obviously reading my mind. Then he gives an awesome father of the bride speech: “I know Edward will be a good husband… because I’m a cop. And cops know things… Like how to hunt someone to the ends of the earth. Or how to use a gun.” This time Pattinson is really laughing. I hope Burke is improvising all of this.

10) Now it’s honeymoon time. How many games of chess can you play? A waterfall? A bathroom hygiene montage? Really? I mean, really? Where are the unicorns? Also, my mom is pointing out that they’re off the coast of freaking Rio De Janiero, the sun is glaring down and Edward isn’t sparkling. GAFFE.

11) If I had directed the sex scene I would have taken Kristen Stewart out of the equation. I would have just let Robert Pattinson go to town on that bed. My direction would have been very Tyler Durden-esque: “Robert, just pretend the bed is this terrible franchise you hate, and I want you to fuck it as hard as you can.”

12) Right after sex: another dream sequence in a dream sequence, featuring a crying Charlie and a dead Bella because sex always equals death in the Twilight series.

Seriously, what the-? Stop the cliches. And stop the dream sequences. This isn’t Inception.

13) Meanwhile, a game of werewolf soccer turns out to be a bunch of people whining about how they don’t have girlfriends and boyfriends. Once again, Andrew Futral’s quote on this subject is ringing truer than ever.

14) News flash- sex gets girls pregnant sometimes. It’s nice to hear our male leads respond to this with such enthusiasm. Edward: “Carlisle will get that thing out.” Jacob: “Take it out of her!” Really… I can’t believe people are still buying this. The Twilight series is populated with terrible people who are propelled by nothing more than their own selfish motivations. The films have always done a somewhat believable job at softening these moments, but now we’re reaching an impasse. How much longer can the actors keep this up?

15) Holy shit. Bella looks like a walking corpse. What can I say? Don’t have sex, kids. Ever. It will kill you.

16) It’s getting close to the scene where Edward talks to Jacob and says, “Hey, if you talk Bella into having an abortion you can have puppies together.” Oh, they skipped that. Good. That was twisted. Thank God.

17) Back to the werewolves. This brings me to Ilana, who wrote: “The wolves were hilarious. There was a total Disney scene of wolves talking to each other.” Yeah, it was just like Homeward Bound but with Jacob’s WOLFVISION.

18 ) The women in this movie are depressing me. Leah (Julia Jones) views herself only as an “ex-girlfriend” and the only thing Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) does on her own is make sandwiches.

19) Charlie is back, talking on the phone with Bella and reacting to the situation the way an actual human being would react. He is concerned about her well-being and wants to see if she’s okay. Bella promptly hangs up on him. Typical.

20) It’s so great to know that everyone has Bella’s back once again, bending over backwards to protect her without question. She truly is the center of the universe. Several characters have been starving for weeks and others are putting their lives in jeopardy for the umpteenth time. If not they just huddle around and treat her like a piece of rare china. Once again I could be annoyed but already know the outcome of this story: it’s perfectly acceptable for Bella to be illogical, manipulative and self-serving. Everyone loves her. She’ll get her cake and eat it too.

21) Wow. There is actually a scene about naming the baby Renesmee. So many people have no idea just how Mormon this is. I was glad she didn’t decide on “Ironrod” for a boy.

22) Okay, here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for- the birthing scene. And they show us… nothing. They PG-13’d the hell out of it. It doesn’t get anywhere near grisly until Edward nudges Jacob away and is like, “Stand aside, I saw Pulp Fiction on pay-per-view once” then jabs Bella in the chest with a syringe full of vampire juice. Seeing this happen in real time rather than on the page just drives home the fact that Bella should be dead. This is ridiculous.

23) Then Jacob imprintdofjbnofiucsnhikbafdas on an infant WHO CARES IT’S STILL CREEPY. Shortly after Edward explains this to the audience in some cutaways during a fight scene. Apparently the plot is solved. Also, Pattinson isn’t laughing during that one. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think it’s funny. According to what I’ve read Lautner doesn’t either.

24) The movie concludes with what The New York Times has called “a cosmic montage sequence worthy of Tree Of Life.” It reminded me more of CSI. Also, there were no dinosaurs. Then it ends on the exact image I imagined it would, on an unconscious Bella before her eyes pop open, red and bright.

Dear filmmakers of Twilight, please get out of my brain.

– – –

This just makes me glad that we are one step away from the end of this terrible story. Or, as Pattinson puts it: “Have sex, demon baby. No, they get married first, demon baby, Jacob falls in love with the little baby, then everyone tries to kill each other, but nothing happens. Oh, that’s the second one.”

I could comment on performances, the soundtrack, the cinematography and such but I’ll refrain. It’s Twilight. It was interesting to read Steven Lloyd Wilson’s review of the film on Pajiba, though. He had never seen any of the films, and he noted, “What is fascinating in watching [Breaking Dawn] is how it can be simultaneously excellently made while being a terrible film. There’s something almost admirable about watching a talented director try to bend horrible source material into something watchable. The end result is a film that is actually gorgeously shot, even while the plot makes no sense whatsoever.”

Welcome to the franchise, man. I guess I consider myself a veteran.

In the meantime I plan on returning to the Shrine with more material other than what I feel obligated to do. My little list is piling but I keep putting it off. At the very least I hope to review something more worthwhile like Martha Marcy May Marlene or Lars von Trier’s latest, Melancholia.

And I will, until next year. November 2012. See you then.

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