Robert Zemeckis is the man! Why is he the man? Because he has directed some of the most entertaining films of my generation.
Just look at his directorial resume: "Forrest Gump," "Cast Away," "The Polar Express," (wow, that's a lot of Tom Hanks movies) and one of my underrated favorites "Contact." But he is "the man" because he gave us "Back to the Future." Then followed that up with parts II and III. This is quite possibly my second favorite trilogy of all time, of course right behind "Star Wars." But could Mr. Zemeckis do it again and overwhelm me with another wonderful film that has longevity? Short answer, yes he could. And he does with the film "Flight."
"Flight" tells the story of airline pilot Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) and his heroic landing of a doomed jetliner. We've all seen the previews of this film. This is the movie where Denzel has to roll the plane and fly it upside down in order to possibly save the lives of all 102 souls on board. Yep, that's exactly what you get from the preview of the film. But there is so much more to this amazing movie. Things that hit close to home with me. You'll learn a little bit more about me as I scribe throughout this review.
The way it begins is straight out of Coo-Coo town. This is a town that I have visited many times over the years. Whip is in his hotel room with a stunning, totally naked exotic flight attendant (Nadine Velazquez). I'm telling you her name because she deserves to be recognized, because she was so naked. These two lovebirds are doing it all. And when I say "all" I mean everything. It is seven in the morning and they are slugging beers, smoking weed, and doing rails of cocaine that could knock a horse down. Oh yeah, and they've got to work in two hours. Whip and the pretty, naked girl (she's dressed now) make it to work and take off. There is some major turbulence upon takeoff but Whip calmly works his way through the slop. Whip is one cool cat. (And why wouldn't he be, Denzel is one cool cat.) Meanwhile, during the flight, Whip is slamming back screwdrivers! This guy has issues. Something goes terribly wrong with the plane and for the next seven minutes or so, you are on the edge of your seat, as if you were in the plane with everyone. It is one of the most intense scenes I've seen in a movie this year. What a rush! Not to go into too much detail, Whip lands the plane, saving 96 lives, losing six, (four passengers and two members of the crew). Sadly, one being the wicked hot, naked chick from earlier in the movie. Whip is seen as a hero by the public. And why not, it was an act of God and a mechanical failure with the plane. (The fact that he landed the plane is a miracle.) This is where the movie soars. The film is not really about the crash, it's about the hardships of drugs and alcoholism. You see, Whip is being investigated by the FAA for the crash. He could easily lie and get away with this tragic event, but the booze and drugs are too much a part of his life.
This is a character driven film with some fantastic characters. Between Denzel's character and his enabling drug buddy, Harling Mays, (superbly acted by John Goodman) along with Don Cheadle as Whip's attorney and the pretty, naked girl, this film could've worked even without the plane crash. The acting was great. The acting was great for a reason I can understand firsthand. Denzel plays a serious drunk. I know firsthand that I am a serious drunk. That may sound funny, but it isn't. I related to almost every scene in which Whip was hammered. In one scene, Whip is wrecked at his house. He passes out and falls to the floor, knocking every can of beer off of the coffee table. All he did was lay there on the ground, mumbling. Helpless to the world. His sort of girlfriend comes home and covers him with a blanket and leaves him be... I HAVE DONE THE EXACT SAME THING! Minus the girlfriend, I'm not that lucky... or that good looking. But seriously, I have laid on the floor, mumbling 'frontier jibberish' and just being a total loser. This may sound weird to my friends out there, but I totally hate booze. I say it every time I put that first beer to my mouth. Sometimes I just say it to myself, sometimes I say it out loud and get a laugh... but I'm never lying, I truly hate the stuff (I wish I could swear for effect, but I know my editor will edit it out). You know what I hate even more? The four days of agonizing depression that follow that one fun night out with the crew. Sure I love those eight hours of laughing it up with my 'slicks' and my 'chicks' but the depression is the worst. So why do I drink? The same reason Whip drank in the film. Because we're addicts. For twenty years I ripped beers on a (not daily) but every other day basis. Actually, for a while in my twenties it was probably every day, which is the reason I completely forget my twenties. There's something with alcohol that kept me going back to it. I don't know why, the "stuff" absolutely sucks. In my more mature brain now, I think there is only one suckier thing in the world than booze... and that is "John Carter."
This movie shows that nothing good comes from booze. Ain't that the truth. I've got a rap sheet about four pages long to prove it. I didn't always get in trouble when I drank, but when I did I was always drunk. Regrets? I've had a few. Many many times I've embarrassed my brothers and sisters, and that sucks. (But not as much as "John Carter.") I can remember living with my older brother. He came home one night and I was passed out in the bathtub naked with the freezing cold water showering on me. He took care of me, put me to bed, and then went to sleep himself. Not even an hour later he heard the water running, so he checked the bathroom and there I was, back in the tub doing the same exact thing! Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is me. I would do the same thing with gambling. I'd lose 15 grand, pay it off, and then do the same exact thing again! Insane. I'm telling you, when you're an addict, you may as well be put in a looney bin, because you're insane. (Well, not every addict is insane, but I am.) I've tried to stop drinking here and there, but it isn't easy. You get that fire burning in your belly, slug a few back and the next thing you know it's two o'clock in the morning in Chinatown and you're being dragged out of a car by a gang of thugs and having your head kicked in. You know what I said to my buddy when I came back to consciousness? While bleeding out of every orifice on my face, I said, "Man, I can take a punch." Yeah, insane.
In the film, Whip is also hooked on drugs. Big time drugs. Cocaine. Now, if I told you that I never did drugs, I would be lying to you. I don't want to lie, so I'm telling you, I've done drugs. Let's remember, I've gone to many a "Grateful Dead" and "Phish" show over the years and it's practically impossible to NOT do drugs while there. But to be honest, drugs were really not my cup of tea. As a matter of fact, when I was about 30 or so I went 'on the wagon' for about 13 months. For some reason (I don't know why) I still wanted to catch a buzz, so I jumped on the MMP (Marijuana Maintenance Program). This is where you would substitute booze with pot. This lasted about two days. I would get stoned, get paranoid, and sit in my bedroom thinking about every single thing from my birth to that stupid hit of weed. I totally hated the "stuff." Thank God too, I didn't need to be hooked on dope, trying to figure out all my problems, all the while scratching the skin off my head because I though I had bugs in my hair. I am quite glad I never really took a liking to drugs (especially the hard ones). You want to know what I really regret most? It was the same problem Whip had in the movie. Drunk driving. The only difference is, I've never flown a jet drunk... but I have driven drunk. This is something I think about constantly. There isn't a day where I don't think about it. What if I ever hit someone, and God forbid, killed somebody? I think about how devastated the family of the victim would be. And how devastated I would be. If I ever took a life because of drunk driving, and this may sound morbid (and goes against all my religious beliefs) I think I would have to take my own life. The thought of killing someone so senselessly frightens me... Here's the kicker, I've been arrested for it. I haven't driven drunk since August 9, 2008 (One day after I saw the sneak preview of "Tropic Thunder." How do I remember this stuff?) and this I can promise you, I will never again. I actually have a device in my truck that forbids me to... And I'll be keeping it. One good thing about being an alcoholic? I've got a lot of police friends in the town. Actually, I have a lot of police friends all over the state! Ahh, the life of a boozebag. The way I'm writing this "review" may make me sound like a complete lunatic, and I am, but over the past few years I have made a conscious effort to better myself. Have I stopped drinking? No. But I sure have grown up and slowed down. My closest friends and family have noticed major changes in me. This doesn't mean I still don't get drunk, I just pick my spots and go from there. You see, when I go out drinking, I want it to be an event. I want people saying "Matty's going out tonight. I'm jumping on that roller coaster and enjoying the ride!" OR "Matty's going out tonight? I'm staying the hell away from him!" Either way, I get what I want because you're talking about me, and there's nothing better than that for a man with an ego the size of a Mack truck (and a liver to match).
Alright, I think I've given you enough about me, let's finish this movie review. Whip has problems with his addictions, which lead to problems with his ex-wife and his estranged son. Does he get better? There's a dynamite ending that you should go see and enjoy for yourself. I will tell you one thing though, this movie is going to make a killing in DVD sales. Every alcohol and drug rehabilitation center across America will be showing it to their clients. I know this because I have done a couple of stints in rehabs, and when the councillors are tired of teaching you about the effects of booze and drugs on your brain, major head injuries, and how to NOT spread herpes, they like to throw in an interesting movie about alcoholism. This is the perfect movie. (I had to watch Sandra Bullock's "28 Days.") Before I finish this review I want to firmly stress that I am NOT preaching about booze. This is just ME speaking about ME and I know for sure that NO ONE is like me at all! I am one of a kind. So, what did we learn today? We learned that the movie "Flight" is fantastic. We learned that I am a drunk (but trying to get better). We learned that "John Carter" is still the suckiest thing on the planet. Don't spread herpes... and most importantly, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE! You'll regret it. I do.
Matty W. Kelley, Norwood Patch, reporting.
Sorry, no "Fun Fact" today. But I do want to say something that has nothing to do with my insane movie review: This past week I lost a great friend. Someone who took me in and treated me like family. Her name is Carol Fitzgerald. She was my brother Colin's mother-in-law (and my mother-in-law-in-law). She was a special lady who would invite me to Easter dinner and laugh at my jokes even though they were most likely terrible. She made me feel at home. I will truly miss her. The good thing is, I can always go visit her husband Joe, who treats me like I'm one of his own. Or go hang out with Timmy and talk sports and shoot the breeze. I can always meet up with her son Mike and talk movies all day long. (He's another professional reviewer.) Or I can just hop on over to my sis-in-law Katie's house and see that infectious smile that her mother carried throughout the entire time I was lucky enough to know her. But, the best part is, I can always hang out with her grandchildren Xavier, Cameron, and especially Elaina Ray (who has taken a shining to me). Her blood courses through you all, so she will always be with us. Remembering her shall be easy.