Sex, Death and Bowling

I was seduced by the title. Not the sex and death aspects but the bowling.

I’d never heard of the film before I discovered it while browsing through Netflix. The premise seemed reasonable enough: a family dealing with an impending, premature, death with a bowling tournament as the backdrop. Life goes on after all.

My screen time is limited. I watch movies mostly as background while doing household chores such as ironing. Must be some desire to keep busy and not waste my time. Or maybe it is just that I need something to occupy my mind so the mundane task doesn’t drive me crazy.

Yesterday I posted my thoughts on a film based on the dating website Christian Mingle. I pointed out its flaws at great length. But if you have to choose between it and Sex, Death and Bowling, you should definitely go with Christian Mingle.

Sex, Death and Bowling was a waste of my time. I’m not sure if it is the worst movie I have ever seen, I’ve seen a few clunkers, but it certainly doesn’t win any awards. The characters are so shallow they could drown in a puddle. Death is not investigated as much as hastened in secret. There is no nobility. Sex in the title is more a question of gender identity. And the bowling is highly unlikely.

What saddened me most, I think, is that this film had potential. I don’t know whether to blame the writer/director or someone higher up, but they flubbed the opportunity to make a thought-provoking picture and instead allowed it to degenerate into something just as, if not more, clichéd than Christian Mingle. And that certainly takes skill, if not talent.

So where to begin my mini-rant? With the bowling? Why not.

Despite people poking fun at bowling and bowlers, there is a certain amount of skill involved. You will never convince me that a computer geek who has never bowled can become a championship bowler and win a tournament by watching an instructional video the night before. I think it was supposed to add a comedic element to the film, but it wound up being stupid instead of funny.

The sex part? Gay man comes back home where they didn’t understand him growing up is so stereotypical as to be embarrassing. And didn’t need to be in the film – it’s a distraction from the real story which is about death, specifically dying well.

As for the dying part, well, they dealt with it more interestingly in Canada’s House of Commons this month when they debated assisted suicide. An 11-year-old looking for spiritual advice from different religions? Roll out the stereotypes. A wife wanting to end her husband’s suffering when he hasn’t asked for an early death? Let’s not discuss that.

This is a film with no answers, that doesn’t have the courage to spit out its basic question: where is God in all of this? That would have been a fascinating topic to explore through the eyes of each of the characters. Perhaps none of the actors had the skills to get to that depth of character – the whole film seems superficial.

If you want to make a film about death, it really should have some substance to it. This one may have more substance than air, but only just. Better to watch just about anything else.

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