Sometimes there’s a perfect short for a film. For this week’s film (High Fidelity, directed by Stephen Frears and presented by Jessica Verhein), I think I found just that perfect short. To be honest, if I were truly awesome I’d have gone with the top-five shorts to show before High Fidelity, but I think this one Kids in the Hall sketch will do just nicely:
It’s almost like Nick Hornsby watched this Kids in the Hall skit, sat down, wrote his book, and then waited for Frears to come along and make the movie so it could come full circle. There’s even a Peter Frampton reference in both. But enough of the short, on to the movie!
Top-5 Characters in High Fidelity
1. Rob Gordon: Rob is a down-on-his-luck record store owner (Rob: “Why’d you have to tell her about the store?” Barry: “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was classified information. I mean, I know we don’t have any customers, but I thought that was a bad thing, not like, a business strategy.”) who is in the process up being dumped by his girlfriend Laura and loves making top-5 lists.
2. Laura: Rob’s girlfriend. Or ex-girlfriend. She’s still kind of around and moving her stuff out, and Rob is trying to justify not including her on his list of top-5 breakups. (He fails at that relatively quickly.)
3. Barry: You know, he’d been in something like 18 feature films but in my mind this really was the role that launched Jack Black. Here, he plays Jack Black as a condescending record store employee who is in a band called Sonic Death Monkey. Turns out they play Marvin Gaye covers. Who knew?
4. Dick: The only guy in the film who definitely isn’t one. Dick is the sensitive-ponytail-guy of the record store, though clearly somebody didn’t tell him about the ponytail bit. Dick is played by Todd Louiso, who is famous in the real world for absolutely nothing, but is famous in my own head for not only directing but also starring as Ophelia in The Fifteen-Minute Hamlet (previously presented in conjunction with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead…not yet written up). Can you imagine this hunky chunk of cheese as Ophelia? Woo, baby!
5. Liz: Liz isn’t really one of the top-5 characters in the film, but just as Rob tried to find excuses to exclude Laura from his Top-5 Breakups, I’m trying to find excuses to include Liz for the sole reason that she is played by Joan Cusack, who has inexplicably starred with John in ELEVEN feature films. Keep it in the family, guys! Other candidates for this slot would be Lisa Bonet’s casual-sex singer and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a self-absorbed ex.
Top-5 Films Starring Both John and Joan Cusack
1. Grosse Pointe Blank
2. High Fidelity
3. Sixteen Candles
4. Say Anything…
5. Broadcast News
Top-5 Plot Points in High Fidelity
1. Laura breaks up with Rob, launching an endless series of top-5 lists as well as some sick desire on Rob’s part to go back and revisit all of the old relationships. Not really a good idea, all-in-all.
2. Rob learns that Laura has dumped him for his (former) upstairs neighbor, he of the loud sex noises and a true sensitive-ponytail-man (as opposed to the metaphorical sensitive-ponytail man in Dick). When Ian comes to play at conflict resolution in Rob’s store over Rob’s continued stalking of Laura, the death and destruction that Rob imagines laying into him is a highlight of the film.
3. Rob meets a singer played by Lisa Bonet and sleeps with her, because, well, he can.
4. In a classic mortuus ex machina, Laura’s father, who was never previously mentioned in the film, dies. This emotional blow – for mostly inexplicable reasons – pushes Laura back to Rob. (Laura: “I’m too tired not to be with you.” Rob: “What, so if you had a bit more energy we’d stay split up, but things being as they are, with you being wiped out and all, you want to get back together? Is that it?”)
5. Rob realizes that he has never really committed to Laura, and that the series of fantasies about other people he has maintained is just that – fantasies. Just like Laura, everybody else gets bad breath and farts. It’s just that those things don’t enter into his fantasies, which is why they seem so much better, even though they wouldn’t be. Rob, in the wake of his ultimate comprehension that he just never gets tired of Laura, warts and all, proposes. She doesn’t say yes, but she does appreciate the sentiment.
Top-5 Top-5 Lists in High Fidelity
1. Top-5 musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the ’80s and ’90s
2. Top-5 songs about death
3. Top-5 Side One, Track Ones
4. Top-5 dream jobs
5. Top-5 things I miss about Laura
Top-5 Things to Take Away From High Fidelity
1. Iben Hjejle is smoking hot, and it’s amazing she didn’t get any other meaty movie roles. You’d think maybe she just couldn’t pull off a plausible I’m-Not-Danish accent, but in reality, there were only a few moments where anything sounded stilted.
2. If you previously played a child on a wildly-successful sit-com, High Fidelity has a role for you! (Here you go, Lisa Bonet! Come on down, Sara Gilbert!)
3. It’s got a weird ending. Rob proposes, Laura thanks him for proposing but doesn’t explicitly accept, and now their relationship looks to be all super and peachy-keen again. So like, are they going to come back to that, or…?
4. I was totally irritated by the dead dad. I mean, it comes out of nowhere. I assume that in the novel there was at least some mention of Laura’s father before he turns up dead, and it just ended up getting cut. If it weren’t for the fundamental facts of biology, you wouldn’t even know Laura had ever had a father in this film, until he dies. I mean, at least somewhere along the line the guy had to exist, right? But if it had been an in absentia sister, or her friend from elementary school, or her former roommate’s housekeeper, you’d be pressed to ask why she even has any emotional resonance with this person at all. An hour and a half into the movie I haven’t heard of you, and then all of a sudden you die and I’m supposed to believe you were important? I’m done ranting. But it was just a lazy device to find a way to make Laura do something that she did not really seem all that predisposed to do up until that moment, which was get back together with Rob. And her reasons, even during her emotionally-distraught time don’t really make any sense. Fortunately, that was really the only thing that bothered me in the movie. Otherwise it was quite entertaining.
5. Top-5 lists are way overrated. Breaking the fourth wall as a narrator, sometimes underrated.