The Corner

Not All Californians

Like many parents of young children, my discussion of movies is frequently limited to A) anything animated that’s out in theaters, B) Star Wars, and C) what just came out on DVD. So forgive me if I’m treading on already trodden ground.

My wife and I just watched Sideways and Spanglish. (Or most of Spanglish, anyway. In a home with several comfortable viewing areas and good-sized screens, we choose to watch most movies in bed on a 15-inch iBook, and the need for sleep frequently overwhelms the need for finding out what happens to Adam Sandler’s burgeoning feelings for his housekeeper.)

Sideways was a disappointment, and how could it not be, after all the raves and awards? Paul Giamatti’s performance is beyond superb, but I found the movie bleak and hollow. I’ve been saying this for years, but “neurotic” is not a synonym for “interesting.” Spanglish is just a big mess all over, with over-the-top performances matching hateful, unrelatable characters. What could an audience do with Tea Leoni’s Deb, except hope to avoid her?

Since both movies take place within driving distance of my home in SoCal, I fear they may be giving audiences a bad impression of what we’re like out here. I want to assure people (especially those of you I may meet in Atlanta) that not all Californians are fatuous, self-involved, adulterous alcoholics. I am in fact only two of those things.

Warren Bell — Warren Bell was nominated June 20, 2006, by President George W. Bush to be a member of the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the remainder of a ...

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