The Patriot
** GM
Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Chris Cooper, Donal Logue, Joely Richardson, Tcheky Karyo, Jason Isaacs


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The Patriot. The fucking Patriot.

For those of you who remember, I was bound, determined and irrationally frothing at the mouth to avoid seeing this film, I heartily encouraged others to avoid it, and even went so far as to proclaim a boycott against it simply because it's the product of those two wastes of air named Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin - the same dirty, dirty bastards that so putridly botched what could have been a glorious film in "Godzilla 98." I was dead set against giving these two simpering dolts any more money or chances. I want them to work in a Cracker Barrel dish room for the rest of their lives, and every Tuesday, they have to get kicked in the balls by Big Joe McGee, the disgruntled fry cook with a cleat fetish.

I was happy in my boycott until my father began to rave about the film, declaring that "every American should see it" and constantly pushing it on me. I countered by declaring he had no room to talk, since he'd never seen "Braveheart" after I repeatedly told him to. I finally sent the damn film to him for his birthday, and after he watched it, he loved it... but... still claimed he liked "The Patriot" better simply because it was about America. Interesting logic. He then sent this film to me, and the approach of Father's Day got me to finally muster up the humility to take this in. I figure that since I didn't spend any money on it, I'm still adhering to the spirit of my campaign. Let me believe it.

So I watch this movie. I believe I was supposed to be stirred by the story of Benjamin Martin (Gibson), a former badass that's settled into a rich life with a big family and freed slaves and is just trying to live in peace and farm his land, resisting the call of the American Revolution until it arrives on his doorstep, killing his children and forcing him to take up arms and fight for freedom wherever there's trouble. This remarkable grassroots campaign to take arms against the oppressive British forces and eventually found a new nation based on the tenet that all men are created equal is the stuff of legends, schoolbooks and folk tales. Of course, I'm the cynical type of chump that ponders things like the whole war was fought to decide which group of white guys gets to commit genocide against the Indians.

Everyone always asks 'is this what the founding fathers would have wanted?' No. The founding fathers mostly believed that everyone was created equal, except for Indians, women, blacks... well, anyone that ain't a male honky. The founding fathers believed in "manifest destiny." The right of white men from Britain to sail across an ocean, find a huge hunk of land and just kill anyone that wanted to stop them from gobbling up every last piece of it. They put some damn good ideas into the constitution, but asking 'what would they have wanted' to each new dilemma doesn't seem like a question that should hold all that much water in the long run.

It might not be a surprise that I'm not what anyone would call a 'patriot.' Patriotism, to me, seems like a dangerous idea. In theory, it's all well and good, feeling proud of the particular hunk of land you happen to have the blind, dumb luck to have been born in. However, that can easily translate into a disturbingly overbearing zeal, especially when these "patriots" are given guns and told to go kill people in another hunk of land. It becomes a deadlier version of "my dad can beat up your dad." "Oh yeah, well, my country can kick your country's ass!" And so on. Dividing up the world into property lines just doesn't seem healthy. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm... well, I'm probably the only one left these days.

ANYWAY, enough socio-political rambling. The film itself does have a handful of moments that work, and I do like to watch Mel Gibson, even if it felt that some of the scenes were lifted almost directly from "Braveheart," a far better film in my opinion. But there were just too many generic flag-waving, slow-motion-equals-important-drama cliche-festivals going on for me to really get involved in the story, and my cynicism about America didn't help my objectivity at all. Not to mention ignoring the issue of slavery and not delving into what the REAL Benjamin Martin was all about - from what I've heard, that'd be a more interesting story.

So there.

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