(Check out the list so far)
I know this is isn’t an animated musical, but I don’t really have any other place to put this one, and this movie is…owned by Disney, and… about music!
The Movie: High Fidelity (2000)
One Sentence Plot Summary: A problematic white man in his 30s from Chicago who can’t drive, has awful friends, and can’t decide what he wants in his love life.*
*Real talk. Rob Gordon is the fictional character I connect with most, and it’s something I’ve definitely had to interrogate over the years because that one sentence description could easily be me.
Why It’s on the List: This is the movie I always watch after a break-up or after something particularly difficult has happened. Rob Gordon is an incredibly problematic individual, and I wish the film did more with that. If I had seen this movie in 2020 and not 2002, then my perception of it would likely be much more different.
John Cusack takes a crutch that should not work, the idea of someone talking directly to the camera, and owns it. He is almost an irrelevant actor now, relegated to straight to VOD shlock? mostly, but he had a solid run of solid mid-tier comedies and dramas from the late 80s to the early 2000s.
This is very much a Chicago movie but not in a showy way like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Blues Brothers. There aren’t a lot of tourist stops. There are smaller streets, the train, a bridge, and even some of the lakefront. What people have to understand about Rob Gordon is the same thing they need to understand about Tony Soprano, Walter White, and any other anti-hero you can think of. While we may be able to identify them and they may even come across as likeable at times, we should never aspire to actually be them. I can still enjoy many aspects of this movie, including Jack Black’s breakout performance understanding how problematic these individuals are.
At 17, maybe I saw the idea of ranking as a positive thing (Goddammit), but I think at 35, I’ve grown to understand that even my favorite films and television shows are not above reproach. We are all byproducts of the entertainment we enjoyed at specific times in our lives, and I’m still going to find this movie entertaining and engaging while also being problematic.
*I’ve said all that can be said about Rob Gordon, so I’ll just send link to a specific article that does a great job summarizing the issue.
MVP and Best Performance: The reason Rob Gordon works is John Cusack. He had a history of playing these sad sack roles, so it was a natural transition for him to go into this one. In another universe where comedies get respect, he may have even gotten more awards consideration. He’s that good in this movie. Making it seem like the character (and thus you the audience member) are in the movie is not easy, and few people are able to pull it off. Even Zoe Kravitz takes a couple episodes before she seems comfortable with it in the Hulu show.
Best Quote: “Get your patchouli stink outta my store! (pause). Move it lard ass!” – Rob
Is there a sequel? No, but there is a streaming television show that is more interested in interrogating who Gordon is as a character and honors the source material without feeling like a rehash.