Mar 1, 2012

I Melt with You

As far as I am concerned, one of the most repugnant contemporary trends in Hollywood is the so called “bromance” film, especially of the lowbrow pseudo-libertine comedic variety. The portmanteau term ‘bromance’ itself was apparently coined by Dave Carnie; the former editor-in-chief of the now-defunct and onetime-Larry Flynt publications-owned risque skateboarding magazine Big Brother. Unsurprisingly, many of the quasi-carny Jackasses from the MTV show Jackass, including alpha-Jackass Johnny Knoxville himself, got their start exposing their genitals to live electrical currents via Big Brother. Like Johnny Knoxville and his erratic, angel-dust-fueled untermensch entourage, the seemingly homoerotic undertones of mock-male bromance, in the form of low-camp Hollywood party propaganda films, would eventually occupy the mostly vapid minds of the mainstream and further contribute to the full-fledging senseless and nihilistic hedonism that has now become a pronounced and never-ending rite-of-passage for desperate and horny teenage boys and middle-aged man-children alike. Indeed, bromance films seem to reflect and pathetically glorify a totally degenerate ‘eternal coming-of-age’ that is now undoubtedly typical of modern cosmopolitan Western (and especially American) man where traditional male ideals like physical and mental strength, stoicism, and spirituality are seen as a joy-killing ‘bummer’ and where an endless buffet of nugatory sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are the highest of ideals. Thankfully, I have only viewed a handful of these maniacally-conceived movie monstrosities, yet they have unfortunately left a deep enough impression on me to the degree where I unconsciously cringe in literal physical disgust at hearing the mere word ‘bromance.’ Last week, I had the opportunity to watch the film I Melt with Yout (2011) directed by Mark Pellington (The Mothman Prophecies); an anti-bromance film of sorts that ultimately delightfully demystifies, marvelously mutilates, and befittingly murders the retarded romance of the dreaded bromance. 

In I Melt with You, a middle-aged foursome (played by Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, and Jeremy Piven) of former college friends/party boys reunite at a mansion in Big Sur, California and hopelessly attempt to relive their misspent youthful lifestyle of forgotten sex, numbing drugs, and redundant Rock 'n' Roll. From the beginning of the film, it is most apparent that these four men have become totally disenchanted with their youthful ideals and that their lifelong bromance has significantly soured as a result. Most of these men also have a hard time relating to their former pals and can only seem to find collective solidarity in their commitment to rampant intoxication-based escapism, and overall bitterness and disappointment with life. To evade the glaring reality of their age, the miserable four even go as far as partying with a group of 20-somethings (one of which is played by porn-whore-turned-legit-hollywood-whore Sasha Grey) in a pathetic attempt to rekindle the spirit of their youth. Instead of forgetting about their undesirable physical maturity and failed lives, their disillusionment with their miserable existences is all the more highlighted and disastrously confirmed. The night after their unexpectedly insightful inter-age orgy, the ugliest member of fab four commits suicide not long after passively engaging in a bisexual threesome with two menacing youths, thus forcing the three remaining self-loathing neo-yuppies to weigh in the pros and cons of suicide. As you find out I Melt with You, the fabulous four made a suicide pact during their college years stating that if they failed in their idealistic, unrealistic life ambitions, they would all settle for mortal sin of suicide instead. After languishing through deplorable bromance fantasy-comedies like Todd Phillips’ The Hangover (2008) and Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), I came to the blatant conclusion that men who act so hedonistically as the characters featured in these films could only be as miserable as a homeless orthodox Jew accepting food charity from a Mormon temple. As far as I know, I Melt with You is the only film that realistically portrays the emasculated void that is the totally shallow, infinitely worthless, and intrinsically self-destructive, faux-male-comradrie bromance. On top of honestly portraying the banal brotherly pseudo-love of bromance in loathing detail, I Melt with You is totally free of a typically compromised, happy holy-wood ending. To say anything more about the film would be an injustice to prospective viewers.

In one particularly telling scene early on in I Melt with You, an old interview with Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols is voiced over images of domestic mundanity. Mr. Rotten quite matter-of-factly and unsentimentally admits that his goal with The Sex Pistols was to destroy Rock 'n' Roll, as he essentially feels that it has worn out its welcome and is nothing more than a repulsive anachronism. Of course, the formerly idealistic man-children of I Melt with You are indubitably Rock 'n' Roll casualties who fell prey to the golden calf of distorted electric guitars, free love and STDs, and the pseudo-transcendence of mind-altering controlled substances. The real tragedy of the four protagonists in I Melt with You is that it took them their entire adulthood to realize the utter bankruptcy and worthlessness of their fundamentally deleterious, self-obsessed ideals. Of course, mind-numbingly moronic, potty humor movies like The Hangover portray such barren lifestyles as something akin to magical mystery tours, but I guess that it is one such should expect from an era that likens redundant rock lyrics to the holy writ. Artistically, I Melt with You is far from exceptional, but it is a rare Hollywood film with a legitimate moral message that is not too preachy nor horribly contrived, but is told with a somewhat unique, therapeutic flair. I Melt with You also features a sometimes enjoyable, complimentary soundtrack with songs from Bauhaus, Adam & The Ants, The Sex Pistols, Pixies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and, unsurprisingly, Modern English (doing a bastardized 2011 re-working of the hit 1982 song the film was named after) among others.  If you're looking for a film that is a true "party crasher" and that is guaranteed to ruin everyone's buzz, pop I Melt with You into your dvd player and grin as you watch the smiles melt.

-Ty E


jervaise brooke hamster said...

Rob Lowe is a pile of shit.

Phantom of Pulp said...

It's no magical mystery tour, which is why I liked it. A little self-satisfied with itself at times, but, overall, an experience that will clean the house of unwanted guests.