Editor’s note: The FluffingtonPost welcomes back film reviewer
Chad “Chad” Elkington from his one-month hiatus as a Romney volunteer out of their Hinsdale, Ill., office.
Not to get overly personal in a movie review, but I now understand how disorienting the political bubble can be. For the last month, I worked tirelessly three days a week walking between double-lot McMansions, slipping with Peapod trucks into gated communities, and introducing countless stay-at-home moms to the accomplishments of Ann Romney.
So what a great jolt back to reality to screen the grittily realistic and gorgeously cast Denzel Washington movie Flight. The story seems ripped from the headlines of Esquire Magazine’s old summer fiction issue, and I defy any loyal Starbucks patron to not leave the multiplex saying “There, but for the grace of God (and eight years of military flight training), go I.”
For my money, no Hollywood actor today plays the non-racist black man better than Denzel. His color-blind portrayal of airline pilot “Whip” Whitaker is perfectly underscored by the movie makers’ choice to turn every racial casting cliché on its ear. Thus Denzel has no black friends in the film, with his two closest buddies being John Goodman as a white drug dealer and Bruce Greenwood as his white union rep.
This wonderful feel-good melting pot is smartly repeated by pairing Denzel with women of three different ethnicities. There’s:
- The obligatory super-hot young Latina girlfriend. (Fans of the TV sitcom “My Name is Earl” will recall her as that show’s super-hot Latina girlfriend.)
- The obligatory gorgeous African-American ex-wife as pushy gold digger. (After Denzel’s plane crash, she never calls, but before it did find time to nag him for more alimony.)
- The obligatory redheaded heroin addict, whom Denzel befriends in the hospital and later beds. But in a genius twist, she’s made super-hot too.
In fact, Denzel has a nearly complete coital menagerie here. All that’s missing are a pair of hot Asian twins (what a lovely layover flashback that’ve made), an Anna Karenina Russian mistress with a heart of gold, and a super-smart Bollywood starlet who nevertheless still succumbs to Denzel’s charisma. (To make room for the latter, I would have recast Don Cheadle’s attorney character.)
But because the film ends with an obvious set-up for a sequel, one suspects the movie makers already have these extra romantic interests story-boarded.
Not to again get overly personal in a movie review, but Flight also tackles the very serious issue of high-functioning white-collar addictions – an issue that touches many elite households that fail to properly store common cleaning products.
The movie nicely reminds that while addiction – especially recovery – is quite a drag for the drug user, one can still perform professional duties exceedingly well, if not heroically. In a lesser yuppie addict movie, most passengers aboard Denzel’s plane surely would have perished, forcing us to hate Denzel for jeopardizing so many lives. Thankfully, that is not this movie.
This rightly focuses our sympathy on the truest victim of recreational drug addiction – the unfortunate user himself. This avoids forcing our leading man to endure any emasculating interventions (which are the worst) or needless blah-blah-blah moralizing about contrived innocent bystanders. Thus Denzel is free to conquer addiction the same way he did that nosediving airliner – by relying heroically, like any great Hollywood leading man, on just himself.
It’s also worth noting the only unredeemably ugly character in the whole movie is a cracker landlord of the redheaded heroin addict. Although he saves her life after she overdoses, he pulls the douche move of offering to sleep with her to forgive several months of back rent. This delivers a final powerful message to any young children who see this R-rated film:
Never pursue an addiction you cannot afford.
Chad “Chad” Elkington was mentored by Jeff Burdick, who wonders how much research time method actors devote to Halloween costumes. Enjoy FluffingtonPost’s “5-Second Film Reviews” at BurdickComm.com.
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