The Deer Hunter.
For years, I have heard from tons of critics about how great this movie is. The American Film Institute claims that it is the 79th greatest movie ever made (at least, according to their 1998 list… their 2007 list ranked it 59th). The Internet Movie Database says it is the 130th best movie ever made. It won Best Picture in 1978.
So, for those of you who haven’t watched it (which must be a LOT of people, otherwise it wouldn’t be so highly regarded)…. let me save you three very boring hours.
That’s my first complaint with it– it was THREE HOURS LONG…and it MIGHT have had enough story-line to be a compelling 90 minute movie…maybe.
The sound was atrocious. It was really difficult to understand what the characters were saying to each other half the time. They either spoke too quietly, or the sound was garbled, or the background noise was too loud, or in some cases, the dialogue was just non-existent– long passages of no characters speaking.
Periodically, there were different kinds of music in the background– but regardless of what kind of music it was, it was too loud, and distracted from the movie (and as mentioned earlier, many times it was so loud, it muffled what the characters were saying).
20 minutes of the movie could have EASILY been eliminated. It was a wedding reception… with virtually no dialogue. Just music and dancing. No joke. Just music and dancing… that’s it. I fast forwarded through this part. (and 20 minutes is not an exaggeration, I went back and checked the time, that’s how long it lasted).
Another downer– this movie was made in the 1970’s. And, from what I can gather by all the movies I have watched from that era… it must have been acceptable to beat your wife in public back then. During this wedding reception, this drunk dude sees his girlfriend dancing with another guy. He walks up to her, whacks her across the face, hard, and she falls to the ground. A few people notice, but shrug it off and keep dancing. She gets up, he examines the bruise he just gave her, “apologizes” in the form of kissing the cheek he just whacked, she smiles and they start dancing.
Had I been watching in a theater, I would have gotten up and walked out at this point. (Actually, no, I would have already been gone, because the wedding reception would have bored me to tears already).
This sort of brings me to my next complaint. Just about every single character was a complete asshole. Not one likable guy in the bunch (even the female characters weren’t that likable). The story focuses on a group of guys, three or four of which were getting ready to go off to Vietnam the next week (and eventually do as the story progresses). They are the worst kind of 70’s trashy redneck-sort-of types you could imagine. They drink too much beer, yell at each other all the time, get in big fights and all stumble home drunk and mad at each other. With much foul language, and in some cases, guns pointing at each other.
In the first hour of the movie, there are not one, but TWO “sing-along” sequences, you know, where all the guys are gathered around semi-drunk and singing together in a bar. Usually fun stuff right? My mind instantly conjures the “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” scene from Top Gun.
In this case, we have “Can’t take my eyes off of you” by Frankie Valli (“I love you baby!”) and the second song is called “Drop Kick Me Jesus, through the goalposts of life.” Both songs would have been reasonably decent ‘sing-along’ songs, except for the fact that– as a viewer– I HATED the people singing the songs! I had no emotional attachment, respect or goodwill towards the people who were having fun singing them.
We LIKE Maverick and Goose, which is why it was FUN to see them sing “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling”.
One final complaint, this film basically doesn’t have a plot. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens. I am also convinced that this movie is one of the big reasons why there is this myth that almost every soldier that went to Vietnam, came back totally messed up (mentally).
If you want my personal opinion, I think I know why this movie is so critically acclaimed. It’s probably because Robert DeNiro is in it. There are certain actors that critics love to fawn over, regardless of how bad a movie may be, and DeNiro is at the top of that list.
Title: The Deer Hunter
Advisories: Foul Language, blood and violence (Russian roulette is played throughout the movie)
Running Time: 182 minutes