The Joy Luck Club Movie Review

SCENE: Two guys shooting baskets at a basketball court. The conversation is mundane, until GUY #1 starts talking about movies.

GUY #1: I don't know how he doesn't sleep with Famke Janssen in that movie, it's friggin' mystifying to me. She's all legs and hair.

GUY #2: Yeah, she was hot in that movie.

GUY #1: Seen anything good lately?

GUY #2: Yeah (dramatic pause). The Joy Luck Club

GUY #1: (Looks at GUY #2, as if he's wearing a Viking helmet.) You serious? Isn't that a chick flick? How did you end up watching that?

GUY #2: You would think it's a chick flick, but it really isn't.

GUY #1: Women are in it? (GUY #2 nods) Crying? (GUY #2 nods) Men portrayed as schmucks (GUY #2 nods). Then it's a chick flick.

GUY #2: It isn't. It's one of those rare movies where the surface appearance gives you no indication what the movie really is all about. Just like every one of Michael Mann's movies, only in a good way.

GUY #1: Don't knock Heat. (Solely out of courtesy) So, what is it about?

GUY #2: It's about the value of family, and about how our parents are really more similar to us then you think. And what's so deceiving is that it focuses on eight Chinese and Chinese American women over a span of like 60 years, but there are so many universal truths in that movie.

GUY #1 (Annoyed): You're talking like a critic again; I hate that.

GUY #2: Sorry, but this is an important movie, because it shows us the reasons for our parents' expectations of us, and how the bond can really flourish if you're honest with yourself and able to learn from the past. Our elders really can guide us. Anyone can appreciate that.

GUY #1: I'm still not interested.

GUY #2: Fine, but even if all of the thematic stuff isn't for you, the stories of these women are inspiring. They use their smarts and independence to break away from the men who rule their lives, and I do not use that term loosely. It's heartbreaking some of the sacrifices they had to make to be themselves again.

GUY #1: This isn't like Waiting to Exhale, is it? I saw that with Laura recently and it was so much grandstanding. I felt like smothering myself with a throw pillow.

GUY #2: No, there's nothing like that. The guy who directed, Wayne Wang, he doesn't go for that kind of flashy stuff. He lets the actors do the work. Amy Tan -- she wrote the book -- and co-writer Ronald Bass, their dialogue feels natural. And the voiceovers that connect the women's stories are effective because it gives the movie that much more of a human touch. It's quite a movie: a character story that thrives on an enthralling narrative, universal emotions, and little else.

GUY #1: Yeah, well, I still don't see how this applies to me.

GUY #2: If you've ever had parents, then you can relate to this movie. Let me ask you this? How well do you know your mom and dad? You know them, but there's like 30 years of unknown history. Did you ever give a moment's notice as to how they became the people they are, and how that process influenced their relationship with you? The Joy Luck Club touches on that. For that alone, the movie is valuable. I now look at my parents much differently.

GUY #1 (Mulling over the last remark) Let me ask you something? Were there any explosions?

GUY #2: No.

GUY #1: How about nudity or car chases?

GUY #2: No.

GUY #1: Then why would I possibly care about any of this?

(Silence for several minutes, as GUY #1 and GUY #2 shoot hoops)

GUY #2: Yeah, Famke Janssen was hot, but how about Naomi Watts...

GUY #1: Oh, The Ring girl. Yeah...

Comments

The Joy Luck Club Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1993

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