first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri good?I didn’t think so.But it’s winning all kinds of-Yeah, I know. That’s why we’re reviewing it now.What’s wrong with it?Don’t you want to know what it’s about, first?The angry lady puts up billboards giving the cops a hard time for not catching her daughter’s killer, right? I mean, the movie came out almost three months ago…Yeah, that’s the broad strokes of it.So what’s the issue?Every once in awhile you see a movie that looks tailor-made to be an awards-season darling and when it’s over you go “well, that was disappointing.” You damn near forget you even saw it because there’s a lot of Oscar bait where that came from, and it’s not like overlong middlebrow pseudo-indie pablum is great review traffic. BUT THEN suddenly it becomes an awards season darling anyway and now you have to go back and revisit it with the benefit of several months of ruminating on how much it doesn’t deserve the hype. This is one of those.…go on.The big idea seemed to be collapsing the opposing twin narratives of the last two years or so of American socio-political discourse. I.E., marginalized people railing against unjust policing, violence against women and other systems of oppression versus “traditional” Middle America throwing a performative tobacco-spattered “un-PC” tantrum about… who the hell even knows? This goes into a unifying melange wherein that aforementioned oppression and injustice are railed against by the “un-PC” tantrum-throwers. Or, to put it another way, “Gee, ‘Fuck Tha’ Police’ SURE sounds more Oscar Friendly when it’s coming out of a sassy coverall-clad Blue Collar White lady caricature beamed in from the liner notes of a lesser Springsteen album!”I see. So McDormand isn’t good?She’s excellent, but she’s always excellent – the material lets her down almost immediately. She’s asked to carry the difficult stuff and ends up coming off the worst once things go off the rails. Essentially morphing into a coverall-clad insult comic perversely framed as town crier for a grab bag of buzzy social-justice hot-buttons whose actual victims are of course apparently not sympathetic enough to speak for themselves. It’s all supposed to go back to wanting justice for her daughter, but she’s pre-loaded with overwritten rants against pedophile priests, unfair War on Drugs arrests, high school bullying and police racism just waiting for a target to unload on and it all feels co-optive and sketchy instead of like genuine anger.This sounds bizarre. Is there are another movie it sort of compares to?Did you ever see Crash?The one where people have to be in car accidents to have sex or the one where everyone in L.A. that’s like “Actually everyone is racist when you think about it?”The racism one.Oooooooh… I didn’t care for that.It’s sort of like that. McDormand’s whole “mission” is complicated because the whole town is more or less against her. This is because she’s an ornery rage-case who likes to browbeat and/or regular-beat people who get in her way while Woody Harrelson’s embattled Sheriff is a well-liked family man who seems to be doing his best and also happens to be dying of cancer. Also complicating matters are her resentful surviving children, her abusive ex-husband and his much younger girlfriend and a whole town full of colorful eccentrics of the type you really ever encounter when Europeans make movies about rural America.Such as?Peter Dinklage as a sad-sack salesman with a crush on McDormand, Sam Rockwell as a violent racist cop who (wouldn’t ya just know it?) is actually kinda sad and maybe needs a redemption arc of his own. There are some plucky Millennials to give the heroine a thumbs-up on her coolness and exactly two Black people to designate her as a proper spokesperson against Rockwell’s racist policing.Wait – I thought it was about her trying to get them to re-open her daughter’s case?The whole thing flies off the rails right when it’s supposed to be coming together in Act 3. It starts off promisingly by asking us if even people like McDormand’s naturally-sympathetic caricature can take their anger too far but ends up going all Crash and asking us to sympathize with Rockwell’s cop as our “unexpected” maybe-redemption story because “hey, violent racists are people too, right?” It becomes a spectacle of a movie that wants to take time out of its own plot to become “about” police racism. It lets editorial-cartoon White people do almost all the talking and winds up asking us to feel bad for the cop would come off pretty crummy in a GOOD movie. To say nothing of a cloying, preachy one that finally has the nerve to wrap-up on a note of arthouse ambiguity that all the middlebrow pablum leading up to it has in no way earned.So all the Oscar buzz…Look, I’m happy that it looks like Sam Rockwell might win an Oscar because he’s been one of the most underrated guys in the business forever and he’s deserved it a bunch of times. But he’s been better in just about everything else, so has McDormand and the rest of the film is exactly the kind of overpraised pandering that makes people hate Oscar Season in the first place. MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ center_img Stay on targetlast_img