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Sep 12, 2008

CAGEFEST: The Nic Cage Film Festival - Con Air

CAGEFEST cannot be stopped. For previous entries, click here.

You know how sometimes when an actor wins an award, they say that they have to thank that one casting director that found them waiting tables in Sheboygan or Tuscaloosa and put them on the path to becoming the star they are today? Well, when I win a Blogscar or something like that, the man I'll be thanking is NFL Adam, also known as the proprietor of The Hater Nation. Aside from writing a damn funny site (complete with a number of great "characters" that reside in the comments sections), he's the guy that took a chance on an unproven kid (aka me), giving me more link love than I deserved, especially that early in BC history. You've seen him pop up here on occassion to write about his first love in life and in the comments (now going by THN), and now he's dropped by to give us a hilarious love letter to Con Air. Enjoy.

Define irony: No, Garland Green, it is not a bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band who died in a plane crash. Instead, it is Fletch finally recognizing the genius of Nicolas Cage.

I am proud to be a part of Cagefest.

Perhaps no movie in Cage’s entire catalog – which I thoroughly enjoy – receives as much praise and scorn as Con Air. For the record, I really love this film. Con Air ranks very high on the “remote control scale.” As in, you no longer need a remote control when you find this film on television. There is no more channel surfing, instead you are swept away in the precarious predicament of Cameron Poe – a man wrongfully incarcerated for defending his wife and unborn child, who finds himself on an airplane with every creep and freak in the universe.

I can hear the haters now, though. All you wannabe Gene Siskels out there, what about Cage’s Southern accent? To borrow a phrase from Jeremy Piven, he’s an actor. Actors pretend.

Was the accent a little over the top? Ask yourself this. In a movie with so many implausible plot holes, is it really Cage’s accent that bothers you that much? Did you watch the scene where the plane is dragging a corvette and think to yourself, “The accent is killing me here?”

If so, what’s your problem? Mother hold you too much or not enough? Last picked at kickball? Late night sneaky uncle? I find the haters somewhere between a cockroach and that white stuff that accumulates at the corner of your mouth when you're really thirsty.

This is a send-up of action flicks and Cage’s accent illustrates this. Cage is allowed to have a little fun, even if it does piss off Sean Penn. (Suck on that haters, if you hate this film, you are siding with the biggest douche nozzle in the movie industry.)

Not every movie has to be Casablanca. Do you believe that John Cusack and John Malkovich thought they were signing up for a Citizen Kane when they read the script? These guys want to be in shoot-em-up, blow-em-up action thrillers, too. They deserve to have a little bit of fun, too.

That is why you have an all-star class that also includes the new FF-UN Hall of Fame inductee Steve Buscemi, Dave Chappelle, Danny Trejo and Nick Chinlund, amongst others. Actors are little boys inside who dreamed of being heroes and saving the day. And in kind, the audience should loosen up and have a little fun, too in this popcorn flick.

Although selling it as a mindless action flick almost sells this a little short. The actors do a pretty good job of making you care, while landing planes on the strip, throwing guys from planes and some of the other lunacy that goes on. How else can you explain a theater full of people squealing in delight when Green is shooting craps at the Hard Rock Hotel in the film’s final scene?

Imagine, cheering for an escaped mass murderer.

Con Air still lives on as an adrenaline-charged popcorn flick that surprisingly still holds up to this day. If you disagree, I have only two words for you:

Cy – onara!

Caitlin started her blog having seen approximately 1,416 films and counting. She's currently up to 1,466, but that number doesn't reflect all the work and passion that goes into her site, as she's prone to writing letters to Quentin Tarantino or doing events like this week's retrospective on the Nightmare on Elm Street series. As a bonus, she's not only a member of the LAMB, but a contributor as well, heading up the LAMB Chops (best of) feature there. But all of that is kind of irrelevant; you just gotta love anyone that appreciates Van Damme as much as she (and I) does.

If you plan on suffering the indignity of viewing this masterpiece by Nicolas Cage, then I'd advise you remove all sharp and pointy objects from your presence before you begin watching. It's not so much the details of the movie itself that make Con Air horrible; Con Air is typical 90's action fare. Nicolas Cage is really what causes Con Air to massively fail.

And where to start? Cage's character in the movie is a drawling good old boy who does the right thing, gets sent to prison, and then does the right thing when evil convicts hijack a prisoner transport plane for their own criminal uses. The problem is that Nic Cage has never been very good with an accent, and so what should be a slow Southern accent sounds like an awful parody of Forrest Gump. Cage doesn't feel very reliable as a good guy, mainly because he doesn't get to freak out all the time and think up crazy tics for himself to make him look even crazier. He just never mentally shows up. I think someone could make the argument that Nic Cage isn't mentally all there in the first place, but he seems to coast on wearing a wifebeater, a (fake) hairstyle that would make a hobo cringe and an accent that will make your ears bleed.

When you eventually get to the overused contrivance of The Bunny, it's not worth going any farther. Cage's character is obsessed with making sure his daughter (who he's never met) gets a toy bunny he bought her in prison. He even kills for it. He makes numerous references to The Bunny. By the end of the movie, I hated the damn thing. It's really a fault in the script, but Cage's delivery and facial expressions make it so, so much worse.

The very predictable end is neither sympathetic nor endearing, and Cage's many missteps and faults will make you ignore parts of the movie that can be perceived as "good". I should never leave a movie feeling as though I need a hot shower first and then to FedEx someone a bottle of hot oil treatment, but Con Air left me that way. Clearly Cage has no shame, dignity...or real hair.

5 people have chosen wisely: on "CAGEFEST: The Nic Cage Film Festival - Con Air"

The Movie Whore said...

"What are you going to do?"

"I am going to save the day."

You know I could have added this flick to my post today because this movie is nothing but cheese from beginning to end.

I agree that once you see this is one you can put down the remote and sit back and turn off your brain for a while.

I like the flick but it really is all about Steve Buscemi in this one for me.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Nfl Adam, Con Air is truly a classic, and the irony of Cagefest is quite delicious, almost as much as a bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a group that died in a plane crash...

Can't believe you forgot to rant about them putting the Hard Rock on the strip though, you're a stickler for those Las vegas details...


Fletch said...

I too was surprised to not see the Hard Rock/strip rant. Glad I'm giving you all your fill of irony. Next thing you know, it'll be raining on your wedding days.

The moronic teenager in me can watch this and The Rock and The Island (and most Bruckheimer crapfests) any day of the week, but the part of me that likes shredded wheat (note: I don't like shredded wheat) can't stand watching these things. They suck your brain out, and when you become aware of that fact, you feel dumber than you'd feel if you weren't aware of it, even though you're probably not.

Good luck making sense of that.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

There's 10,000 spoons in my room, but all I need is a life.

THN said...

First off, Caitlin did a very nice rebuttal for Con Air. I respect the writing, but must disagree with her points. As I watch Con Air, drink a bunch of Miller High Life and try to save the (expletive) day.

Second, those "characters" do meet once a year in Vegas for the GA awards ceremony. You should come out for that.

As for the Las Vegas thing. Believe me, I had that included in the pro for this film, but I had to make some cuts because of a word limit. The Hard Rock on the Strip does bother me. I don't mind so much movies where a guy is driving past the Riviera, and then rolling past Fremont, then rolling past the Flamingo in one loop. CSI does this a lot. And when I first saw Con Air, I definately noticed this.

Especially since they would be flying over the Hard Rock to get to the McCarren. Then the plane banks right and flies down the strip.

But again, this goes back to the point where you've allowed so much stuff to happen in the film, you just have to let this one go.

Besides, this is the last film to ever use the Sands, as it was vacated for demolition when they were shooting. So this was the final send-off for the Sands, so I can give them credit for that. I saw that and said, "The Hard Rock isn't one the strip you sons of ... ah, man, the Sands. Why did they tear that down?"

I do soften a little bit for movies such as Con Air and the new Ocean's 11. But when you get a movie that tries to be serious, like 21, there is no excuse for it. None.

Thanks again.