a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Driving Miss Daisy

So I watched this movie the other night, as part of immersing myself in a genre of film that myself and a writing partner are pondering writing.

What's hurting my brain is that, on a lot of pure storytelling levels, this movie just isn't very good.

The first act works fine, setting up the characters, and what they want, and the push-and-pull between Daisy and Hoak. Her need to keep control of her life, her way of spinning every situation so that even if she compromises, it seems to be on her terms. His finally getting her in the car.

But then the movie loses all shape.

There are some great scenes along the way, but it's just all very random. The only real structure is that 25 years are passing, and I guess they are slowly getting closer, but it's all rather wispy.

Ultimately, I think it's a good example of how a pair of great characters (and great actors) can make up for a lot of other ills. We like the dynamic between the two of them, and we're willing to briefly visit with them every couple of years in screen-time, even if nothing much has happened to them in the interim.

But it must have been a pretty thin year when it won the Oscar for Best Picture.

And I'm not sure why it's considered a comedy (it even won the Golden Globe in that category). Because there are some laughs here, but this is really a character drama enlivened by touches of humor, and the second half is pretty dry.

It's interesting to watch and tear apart, though.


On a snowy weekend that choked off the box office a bit, YES MAN did $18.3 million, SEVEN POUNDS did $14.8, and DESPEREAUX did $10.1. So I was ballpark for once.


At 8:54 AM, Blogger Christina said...

I only saw DMD once or twice, and the only thing I remember about it was that I liked Dan Akroyd's performance. I just read the Wikipedia page on it and didn't know it was based on an off-broadway play.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Yeah, the story is sort of interesting. Alfred Uhry had written the books for some minor musical stuff, but had never written a play, but a friend took him to a play one night and he thought he could do better.

So he wrote it, based on his own grandmother and her chauffeur. Morgan Freeman originated the role.

Uhry won the Pulitzer for the play, and then wrote the screenplay -- his first screenplay -- and won the Oscar for it.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Laura Reyna said...

I think the big AA competition that yr came from BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY.

In interviews for yr afterwards Stone would bitch about DMD getting the best picture Oscar over BORN.(Stone got the best director for it)

You could make a great argument that BORN is the superior movie & the Academy make a big goof. I think this is one they would take back if they could.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I had this in one of my theaters back in the day, there was a steady stream of older audiences that considered it a movie like they used to be made (although it's not really).

At 6:26 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

It's been a long time since I've seen this movie, BUT I seam to recall liking the end of the movie where Miss Daisy tells Hoak he's the only friend she has, and he feeds her. THAT was moving.

Unlike you Scott, I would NEVER break this movie down and evaluate it on an act-by-act basis. TOO MUCH unnecessary annalysis. Either the dynamic between miss Daisy and Hoak moves you or it doesn't. IF it doesn't you're in for a LONG 2 hours. But it did work for me.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Sometimes, to learn how to cook, you need to figure out how other chefs put their dishes together.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous yvonnjanae said...

I've refused to watch this movie. My friends who have seen it thought it was a fantasy on someone's part, but hardly a realistic relationship.

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Danny said...

I remember seeing DMD back in '89 because the Batman trailer was attached to it.

Don't remember DMD at all, but the Batman trailer RULED!

Danny ("Where does he get those wonderful toys?")

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I think a storyteller's job is to make his/her audience enthralled in the tale.

The structure of the tale is unimportant. The method in which the tale is constructed is unimportant.

If you are interested the whole time. If you are looking to see what happens next then it was good storytelling. Period.

Sometimes the story itself is strong, sometimes the way in which the story is told is the deciding factor.

At 3:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This movie is EXCELLENT storytelling (and I am in film professionally as well) - however, its pace is much slower and the narrative more subtle than those of today’s American movies.
For me the story was not random at all, but simple yet complex exploration of many important themes. It is a story of an unlikely friendship, and a love story as well. Yes, I said a love story - you don’t always have to act on your emotions for them to be significant - sometimes feeding another person pie can be the ultimate act of love and companionship...
I don’t see this as "an old people’s movie at all, I am in my twenties, and watching it made me cry many times.


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