There are movies that make you think, and movies that think for you. “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated “Inception” belongs to the former category and thus should be avoided. Life is complicated enough without having to use your mind at all during the viewing of a motion picture.
Here are two ways in which “Inception” will confuse your drug-addled brain and tap your precious, finite capacity for thought.
1. It’s set in a bunch of different dreams, yet doesn’t spend 20 minutes explaining how it works.
If you’re anything like me, you turned off “Gone in 60 Seconds” halfway through because there was more than one character to follow, and you couldn’t give that much attention to characters and cereal at the same time.
The protagonists of “Inception” have a limited amount of time to plant an idea in their target’s brain, but how does the technology work? Where’s the white-coat-wearing scientist who explains how these guys get into dreams in the first place? Who makes the dream-breaking briefcase device? I definitely can’t eat cereal while trying to figure out that stuff. So for one thing, “Inception“ doesn’t pass Pauline Kael’s famed cereal test.
(On a side note, they don’t make it very easy to sneak a bowl full of cereal into the movie theater. I had to tell them I had waist-level
elephantiasis and that milk naturally ran down my leg as I walked.)
2. It doesn’t tell you the point of the movie in the beginning.
Here’s the plot of “Inception”: Leonardo DiCaprio is a dream thief or some such not-real thing, and he spends his days breaking into the minds of … the minds of … zzz …
Now here’s the plot of the best movie ever made, a real- life documentary called “Loose Change”: George W. Bush did 9/11.
See how easy that was? In the very beginning of “Loose Change” the filmmakers let you know what the subject is (9/11), who did it (George W. Bush), and how they know for sure (irrefutable proof, such as quotes from Wikipedia). To figure out what’s going on in “Inception”, not
only do you have to pay attention until the very end, but you probably even need to see the film a second time. A second time! How’s a guy supposed to manage 10 fantasy baseball teams with that kind of workload?
While I watched “Loose Change”, I balanced my checkbook, ate cereal, wrote a term paper, did four push-ups, belt-sanded a Datsun and ate cereal, and by the end of the film I hadn’t missed a thing.
Q: Who has two thumbs and was able to digest “Loose Change” while doing his daily routine, and didn’t have to think once in the process?
A: This guy. Christopher Nolan has a lot to learn.
Rent This Instead
“total recall” (1990)
Like “Inception,” “Total Recall” is set in dreams. Or is it? Who cares? Unlike “Inception,” “Total Recall” has tons of blood, f-words galore, a chick with three hooters, and a midget hooker, which makes it the better movie, hands down. (Evil henchman Michael Ironside gets his arms ripped off and thrown at him, making that “hands down” literal.)
More resonant Motivation In “Inception,” expatriate Leonardo DiCaprio has a secret motivation for stealing people’s ideas — he wants to make enough money to get back home to his kids. In “Total Recall,” someone set Arnold Schwarzenegger up, and he’s pissed. Advantage: “Total Recall”
More thought- provoking ideas “Inception” is all about the nature of reality, how the mind perceives the world around it in dreams, and the state of memory. “Total Recall,” meanwhile, concerns itself with the fact that someone set Arnold Schwarzenegger up, and he’s pissed. Advantage: “Total Recall”
More black characters “Inception” showcases the talents of Japanese- born Oscar-nominee Ken Watanabe and Indian-American actor Dileep Rao — but has no black actors, a fact Al Sharpton is sure to point out very soon. “Total Recall” makes viewers consider the plight of the displaced black male through the role of Benny, a cab-driving, back-stabbing Martian with five kids to feed, who betrays Schwarzenegger before being impaled by a giant drill (Schwarzenegger: “Screw you, Benny!”). Advantage: “Total Recall”
better bad guy “Inception” is the rare film without a real antagonist. It instead focuses on the mind as the true enemy, a force which defends itself against foreign thought with subconscious brutality and primal reflex. “Total Recall” has Ronny Cox as the ruthless administrator of Mars — a greedy man who wants to mine a valuable ore so badly that he’ll oppress all the hookers in the planet’s hooker quadrant to the point of mining-related asphyxiation — and afterward he’ll “blow this place up and be home in time for corn flakes.” Advantage: “Total Recall”
o don’t even try to expand your mind with that “Inception” crap this summer. Stick with the tried and true formula of Schwarzenegger, human shields, gratuitous violence and lines so memorable it’ll take alcohol poisoning to forget them. Films as thoughtful and intellectually provocative as “Inception” may come around only once a decade or so, but “Total Recall” is a national treasure.