American Sniper made a lot of money. Its CinemaScore is an A+. Paddington only got an A, probably because there was a distinct lack of Bradley Cooper beefcake in that movie. Apologies to Lord Grantham. You're cute too.
For the past few days, however, conversation around American Sniper hasn't revolved so much around its quality or the glossing over of some parts of Chris Kyle's life (well, maybe the conversation has touched on that a little bit).
The big conversation has been That Baby.
The baby. The fake baby that Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper pass around in a scene, pretending like it's a real, living being. If you've somehow missed this phenomenon, go ahead and read about it now.
Word is that the real baby they had hired got sick, and there are all kinds of child labor laws in California that restrict the use of small children in film, which is a good thing. And I'm sure films run into this stuff all the time. Children rarely cooperate when you need them to.
But filmmakers, especially good ones, don't generally let a baby doll from the busted bin of Toys 'R' Us stand in for the real thing. They work around it.
There were several options here. They could've halted production (which would've thrown off the schedule and probably cost butt loads of money). They could've used this thing called "technology" and CGI-ed a baby into Cooper's hands (not sure that would've had a better result). They could've said, "Hmm...is it really necessary for the two of them to pass the baby back and forth? Could Sienna put the doll in the crib at the beginning of the conversation, just so we know the baby's there?"
Or Dirty Fucking Harry could've gone out and got himself a real baby. Don't tell me Old Man Yells at Chair doesn't have that kind of sway.
But he didn't. He went with the fake baby, the laughably fake baby, whose arm Bradley Cooper has to move with his thumb, like some elementary school-level puppeteer.
Clint Eastwood made an Oscar-caliber film, yet all anyone is talking about is that stupid baby.
"So, what does this have to do with my kids?" you're asking.
There's a lesson in this, for the kids and for all of us: Don't cut corners. Take pride in what you do. Don't half-ass anything. Because people will notice. And you're going to wind up regretting it.
If you have to create a science project for the school fair, don't start it the night before. Do it right, because people will notice, and you'll be embarrassed. Or you *should* be embarrassed. More teachers need to write that on kids' exams: "You should be embarrassed."
When your piano teacher gives you a song to learn for a recital, learn it. Internalize it. Do the piece (and yourself) justice.
If someone gives you $40 million dollars to make a movie based on the life of someone who people really look up to and care about, take the time to do it right. For yourself, for the legacy of the film, for your audience -- prove to them that you know they're not idiots who will never notice that a fake baby is not the real thing.
And here's a link to the .gif, maybe the only .gif you'll ever need.
Related: American Sniper review
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