National Review Online has been running a little series this week on the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years, and thrown in some also-rans as well. Lists like these are fun, but they are also a great opportunity to see how your opinion of a work of art, in this case a movie, stacks up against the opinions of the “elites” who make such lists.
Every movie on the list can arguably be said to deserve inclusion, except one, in my view. I was shocked (shocked!) to see that Metropolitan came in at number three. My first thought when reading the short review was that this can’t be—that movie was horrible! So I cannot just let this slide, lest some other well-meaning conservative (or classical liberal) rent the movie and inflict it on their significant others. For alas, that is my story.
For whatever reason, I pick all the movies in our family, unless the kids want something particular. So I’m always on the line about the quality of the picks. If it’s a great movie, it’s a great movie, and I’m a fine gentleman. But if it sucks, I get the “Why in the world would you pick such a stupid movie?” routine. ("Actually, dear, I did it on purpose so that we could suffer together for two hours.") After twenty-plus years I’m a bit sensitive about it, I’ll admit.
I read somewhere—and I’m pretty sure it was National Review, the non-green version—that Metropolitan was a fantastic movie. So I hopped on blockbuster.com, put it at the top of my queue, and waited in eager anticipation. Then one Saturday evening my wife and I put it in the DVD player and looked forward to relaxing with a good movie by the fire. Twenty minutes into the film, my wife looked at me as if I had two heads. She went to bed. I endured a while longer, trying to figure out what in the world made this such a great movie.
I couldn’t make it all the way through.
In case you aren’t familiar with it (you happy multitudes!), the movie is about a group of twentysomething New York City socialites who apparently have nothing better to do than sit around in tuxedos and evening gowns talking about really deep and trivial stuff. At first the Mrs. and I thought the film had something of a Woody Allen vibe, but it didn’t take long to realize the connection was that Metropolitan was as annoying as Allen at his worst. The pretensions dripped like chilled molasses.
I have it on good authority that Whit Stillman, the film’s writer and director, is a conservative, which might explain how this donkey could end up on such a list. I would greatly like to think that conservatives would be more discerning than to like something just because one of their own made it, but I can’t think of any other reason this would get such rave reviews.
However, it wasn’t just conservatives who liked it. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for its screenplay and received several awards from other low-discernment organizations.
So, I went to an objective expert who does not care much for politics. Asked by yours truly how this moviecould rate so high, Sam Karnick, the proprietor of this website and an accomplished film critic himself, replied:
Sam, too, thought it “absurdly overrated.”
My wife and I are not literary types, although like many people we love to read, though we never find enough time to do so as much as we’d like. As a result, I can’t vouch for Sam’s comparisons to Waugh and Firbank, but for this regular Joe right-winger and his right-winger wife, Metropolitan is not even OK.