Saturday, June 20, 2009

Green Street Hooligans


Green Street Hooligans is the stupidest movie I've ever seen in my life.

It's not stupid in that Adam Sandler/Matthew McConaughey way, where it comes dumbed-down for an audience the filmmakers don't expect much of. This movie was clearly made by and for intelligent people. And it's awful.

This is a movie about gangs. Gangs are a fairly indefensible concept in general, but I can at least understand lost, stupid kids getting involved in this sort of thing. The characters in this movie are adults who choose to spend their free time getting drunk and beating up fans of opposing SOCCER teams. And we're supposed to root for them?

Oh wait. I guess we are. They have "honor." They got each other's backs (not that they really do. The gangs in this film, even the hero ones, are full of mercurial, unpleasant people.) It's common knowledge that any person you meet who makes a big to-do about honor is really talking about a touchy sense of personal umbrage. You've violated my precious little bubble of whatever, so I have an excuse to hurt you. It's schoolyard bully mentality and it shouldn't be celebrated.

The movie never calls the attitudes and the actions of the characters in question. We never get characters who stop and think "Maybe this is pointless and stupid." Instead we have a bunch of nimrods talking about honor and brotherhood and standing your ground, like they're fighting the Battle of Fucking Flanders. The battle scenes, especially the final one, are filmed in that bullshit slow-motion Celtic yodeling soundtrack style that makes everything look grand and noble and heroic. It's not. It's a bunch of fat middle aged bastards who drink too much and pick fights with each other over football. You can see this sort of thing being born from the ugly gray boredom of lower class England, but that doesn't actually give it any value.

Who am I supposed to have sympathy for? The "charismatic" lead of the gang who takes poor, impotent Elijah Wood under his wing? The villain, who watched his twelve year old son beaten to death in a fight with the Green Street Elite, even though he was dumb enough to bring a child to a gang fight? The reformed and remorseful former gang leader, who never actually paid any price for the part he had in the aforementioned child's death. No, the only worthwhile character in the film is Claire Forlani's character, the wife who refuses to tolerate her husband's hooligan behavior. In any rational world she's absolutely right, but in the weirdly misogynistic world of Green Street Hooligans, women are there to pop out babies that the tough guy characters can feel conflicted over before going off to do their "duty" by their mates.

This movie feels like it was made by people who didn't get the point of Fight Club. It's fairly clear by the end of the movie that both Fight Club and Project Mayhem aren't good things, that the characters are swirling in a vortex of self-destructive impotent rage. Instead, filmmaker Lexi Alexander saw the fights and the male camaraderie bullshit and thought "Whoa! I totally grok that! Let's make Fight Club with football hooligans!"

Reading a little bit about German-born director/writer Lexi Alexander, I discovered that she is a former world karate champion. She's a fighter. I'm doing a bit of extrapolation here, but I've known plenty of fighters in my time. Their first love is to the fight, and they'll celebrate the joy of physical conflict over actually examining the reasons why people choose to hurt/maim/kill each other. One of the most interesting things I took away was a point in the special features where Lexi Alexander refers to the fans as having a degree of fanaticism. I thought that hit the nail dead on the head, only these people maim and kill each other over a game.

Guys, it's just fucking football. Stop acting like a bunch of drunken assholes. The rest of the world, the intelligent world, is laughing at you. And we're laughing at the idiots in Green Street Hooligans.

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