Getting to the punch line right away, Dicky would NOT like The Call with Halle Berry. This is not to suggest that Dicky is always a highly critical movie viewer. (Au contraire, she LOVES some movies that I consider deplorable.) The Call, whose first half is suspenseful and engaging, turns ridiculous when Jordan (Halle Berry), a 911 operator, takes it upon herself to go to a location connected to the kidnapper of a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin). She sifts through boxes of possessions that nary an FBI agent is sifting through, she finds a clue, and this leads her to the underground hideout where the psycho kidnapper has poor Casey strapped to a gurney and he's just about to scalp her. In fact, the movie goes south earlier when a suspicious onlooker gets beaten up by the killer and thrown in the trunk of his car where he lies next to Casey with what looks like a smile on his face. But this ridiculousness is not why Dicky would dislike this movie. Dicky would not like this movie because it disobeys one of the two inviolable criteria necessary for Dicky to like a movie:
THE DICKY RESTRICTIONS:
1) Will I like the ending (which means, is it a happy or redemptive one)?
2) Even if it is an ending I would like, is it painful getting to this ending?
Well, Dicky would not necessarily dislike the film’s highly improbable, 360 degree shift to a surprising payback ending; but she would certainly consider the film painful in getting to that ending because of its excessive acts of sadism perpetrated by the monstrously psycho kidnapper (Michael Eklund).
That said, who is Dicky?
Molly Dickson Allison, a former colleague at the school on Cape Cod where my wife and I teach, has been a very good friend of mine for twenty-seven years. At school, Dicky and I were drawn to each other from the start, and we soon learned that we had a lot in common. We had both grown up in the West, she in Boulder, Colorado, I in San Mateo, California. We both had a passion for movies, especially Westerns, particularly Westerns with John Wayne, a passion we had developed since childhood. We both also loved the American history behind these Westerns, and we learned that, serendipitously, I had been born on February 23, the day the Texians took refuge in the Alamo and the siege began, and she had been born twelve days later, the same year as me, on March 6, the day the Alamo fell to the Mexicans. This led, of course, to birthday greetings of “Happy Birthday, Dicky. Remember the Alamo!” This also led to the institution of the first Alamo Dinner Party when we watched John Wayne’s The Alamo and ate Tex-Mex food.
Of course, as I spent hours and hours talking to Dicky about movies, and watching Westerns together at my place, it goes without saying that I, someone who prefers very serious films that pack a visceral punch, found the Dicky Restrictions very frustrating, and I couldn’t believe it when I learned that she, a big John Wayne fan, had never seen The Shootist and she had only seen The Alamo once! “Why not?” I asked. In her inimitable, signature “golly-gee” Western/Eastern preppie voice, always intoned with passionate sincerity, she said, “Because it’s too painful, Richard. John Wayne dies!” (I forced her to watch The Shootist. She loved it, but she has never watched it again, and I’m not sure she forgives me!)
As a tribute to a most faithful blog follower (who never leaves a comment because somehow Google comments pose a problem even though, by profession, she’s practically a computer hacker!) I plan to critique some of the films I see according to whether or not Dicky would like them. These posts will carry a title like "Would Dick Like Title?" This is especially appropriate because Dicky tells me she reads EVERY one of my posts word for word, and she uses my reviews as a gauge, according to her restrictive criteria, as to whether or not she should see the movie. Consequently, she gets frustrated when I don't review a movie she's considering seeing; she feels lost! And spoilers don’t bother Dicky in the slightest. In fact, she’d love it if I described the ending in detail so as to save her from pain. In future posts, if I totally give away the ending and forget to write SPOILER ALERT, you can blame it on my efforts to save Dicky some pain.