The Wisdom of Alan Arkin

From Little Miss Sunshine:
Olive: Grandpa, am I pretty?
Grandpa: You are the most beautiful girl in the world.
Olive: You’re just saying that.
Grandpa: No! I’m madly in love with you and it’s not because of your brains or your personality.

A rule of thumb: If the film contains Alan Arkin, give it a whirl.

I may have found the perfect movie. It’s not particularly “good”, per se. Like, I’m not about to enter it into a discussion about Film. It won’t be making it onto my Alternative Top 100. (Although it may make it onto my personal Top 100 feel-good movies…if I were to ever make that list.) It’s kind of cheesey. It’s fairly predictable. It’s packed with cliches, types, and Kevin Pollack. But I loved it anyway.

It’s called Indian Summer. It takes place in the early nineties in Autumn at Summer Camp. Bingo. Betsy Movie. All sorts of plaid flannels, men with interesting hair, women with perms. Kimberly Williams.

And Alan Arkin is in it, which is awesome. So is Elizabeth Perkins, whom I’ve always liked. AND AND this guy that played Hardware in Meatballs!!!!! I mean, HARDWARE FROM MEATBALLS!? Minus Bill Murray, you are talking a cast of seriously unknowns. And there is Hardware. Turns out he’s been working steadily for years and continues to. However, I’d like to point out that I watch a lot of movies and bumping into Hardware from Meatballs was still a big treat. Sure he plays an asshole, but whatever.

Meanwhile, I hesitate only slightly when I say I think that this movie also provides a perfect role for Bill Paxton. God bless him, the man can’t act. But he really is kind of weirdly charming in this movie. I know that some people will say, But Big Love! Big Love is so good! Well, I’ll have to take your word for it, because I can’t stand Chloe Sevigny and only watch movies and shows she’s in if I didn’t know she was in it. She is the physical embodiment of nausea. But back to Bill Paxton, I will say this, he’s okay in Apollo 13. But all he really has to do is shiver and vomit and look a little out of his element. Surrounded by the likes of Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, and many other more gifted individuals, I imagine that wasn’t too difficult. If it never occurred to you to think of Bill Paxton as a bad actor, allow me to provide a primer: Boxing Helena.

So here’s the deal. I recommend Indian Summer conditionally. 1. You have to have some sort of love for summer camp. 2. It helps to feel warmed and comforted by all things early nineties. 3. You love movies that embrace Autumn. If you can say yes to all three of these things, check this movie out.

NOW, one last thing. If you are a movie dork, you may appreciate this: Sam Raimi plays a supporting role that involves lots of well-executed physical comedy. AND there are several references to Spider Man in the movie. Coincidence? Sam Raimi….Spiderman? Hell, maybe it is. I don’t know. But it was worth mentioning.

This movie made me think about one of my pipe dreams which is running a summer camp somewhere leafy and North-woodsy. Which led to me thinking this: even when I come up with alternative career paths to theatre, none of the alternatives provide any more money. I mean, although I can’t say this is true for certain, I think that the following words have never before been combined: Camp Director/Tycoon.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is several-fold. 1. My little sister is embarking upon her first semester of college and having spoken with her many many times recently helping her make the transition, I’ve been thinking to myself: If I could do it all over again, would I? I don’t know. There are certain things I would change (one particularly ill-informed haircut right before my freshman year), but to totally do it over? I think no. And the main reason I can come up with is that I have met so many cool people in Chicago, why would I want to change anything leading up to meeting them? There is a moment in the movie Indian Summer when Alan Arkin says, “If there is one day in my life I would change, that would be the one.” I think I’m too young to start naming off candidates for that day. The only thing I know so far is that when I ignore my gut feeling about something, I usually regret it. Arkin also says this, “I knew things would work out. They usually do.” Here’s hoping.


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