Archive for December, 2009

Speaking of things that are underrated…

December 28th, 2009 by Reinder

... the Julie sections in Julie and Julia are much better than critics have given them credit for. Granted, Meryl Streep acts the pants off of everyone else, but the sequences set in modern times were actually very cute and engaging.

Eoin Colfer – …And Another Thing

December 26th, 2009 by Reinder

I tried. Honestly, I tried. I tried to approach Eoin Colfer's Hitchhiker sequel ...And Another Thing with an open mind and a willingness to enjoy it on its own terms. I even believe I was successful at it. The problem is that there just isn't that much to enjoy on its own terms. The book is somewhat better plotted than Douglas Adams' original works, but it isn't all that funny, it lacks the edge the originals had and it relies too much on namechecking characters from the original works and on punning. One to avoid, on the whole.

Expansion: What Douglas Adams did was much harder than it looked. Adam was primarily a writer of screen and radio plays, and he brought to the original works (radio plays and books alike) a great ear for dialogue and sound, and a good eye for observations. He was not super strong at plot or characterisation, especially for female characters, but he created memorable characters in Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, and good enough plots in the later, underrated Hitchhikers' books.
Eoin Colfer does not, unfortunately, have Adams's ear, and where Adams managed to come up with odd-sounding names for his alien characters that worked as humour and stayed funny on re-reading, Colfer's funny names all fall flat. There is hardly any memorable dialogue in ...And Another Thing.

The worst problem, however, is one that affects many postmortem recreations of popular media. A good example of this is the recent Muppets clips posted on YouTube, though they are not as badly affected by it as Colfer's sequel is. Instead of creating new gags, the new Muppets clips too often piggyback the old ones, so you get the Swedish Chef and other non-verbal characters singing a song, and the humour depends on it being those old, familiar characters being trotted out one more time. What they actually do isn't funny all by itself, but it gets the laugh because it's the Swedish Chef, Beaker, even the Mah Nah Mah Nah creatures are taken out for another outing. The Muppets, at least, still add enough variation on those old riffs to be worth watching; Colfer's habit of mentioning Eccentrica Gallumbits at every opportunity gets tiresome pretty quickly.