Saturday, November 1, 2008

Why I Love Troll 2, For All The Right Reasons

It's pretty well-known that I like a lot of "bad" movies. But here is a little-known fact about myself: It's a fucking lie. I only like good movies.

What I mean by that is that I, like most people, like movies that I consider to be good, that fall into my own personal definition of "good". I don't like movies ironically. And I don't like movies that need any help to be enjoyable. If I can only enjoy a movie while drunk and making fun of it with friends, then I consider it to be a shitty movie. I was alone the first time I watched and fell in love with Troll 2. I was alone when I watched it six days in a row. I've also seen it with friends and I've seen it a couple times in the theater with fortunately non-talkative audiences, and every single time, it stands up on its own as a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

If you need to watch Troll 2 drunk with friends in order to enjoy it, then that's cool, too, I guess. That has its own value, and I'm just glad that you like it. But for me personally, it doesn't make any fucking sense. Why would you make fun of something that's already funny? I watch Troll 2 as a comedy. It's amazing in a lot of different ways, partly for it's horror elements, and largely for it's sheer fucking weirdness, but overall, I enjoy it so much because it makes me laugh a bunch. Is it intended to make me laugh? I'll get into that later, but for now, all I'll say is that it's irrelevant. Laughter is laughter. Whether you're laughing at the works of Preston Sturges, Judd Apatow, or Charlie Chaplin, it's all the same. And laughing is a fucking awesome feeling. So if a movie makes you feel awesome, how the fuck can that possibly be interpreted as bad?

This applies to all "so bad, it's good" movies (a phrase I don't believe in), be it From Justin To Kelly or Riding the Bus with My Sister or my favorite movie of all time that I refuse to even name in the same sentence as that phrase. (It's Showgirls, for anyone who somehow doesn't know that by now). But is Troll 2's success as a bizarre masterpiece of comedy actually unintentional? I saw Claudio Fragasso doing a post-screening Q&A, and he was relaxed, sarcastic, not taking anything seriously, and most importantly, fucking hilarious. And somewhere around the time he was claiming that the film was inspired by the works of Bergman and Antonioni, it began to dawn on me that this was the style with which he directed the movie. Relaxed, sarcastic, not taking anything seriously, and hilarious. There's no arguing that the acting in the movie is... let's go with unusual. This is the first evidence of Fragasso's "fuck it" attitude. No one in the cast had ever acted before, and Fragasso didn't speak a word of English, but he just said "fuck it" and went for it anyway. Troll 2 is like an experiment. It's like everyone on set made an agreement to not question anything, to accept and incorporate every single idea anybody had. How should Joshua finally defeat the goblins? A double decker bologna sandwich? Why not? So obviously any mother knows the name of the song "Row, Row Your Boat", but how about if instead of her knowing it, she doesn't know it and only refers to it as "that song I like so much"? And then everyone in the car sings it out of sync with each other? Sure, fuck it, sounds incredible.

How else can Troll 2's most absurd moments be explained? If you really think about it, what was the intention of the popcorn scene? With a movie like Gymkata, for example, you can get a vague sense of what it was supposed to be, and what it is failing to be. But Troll 2 is unique in that it's never really clear how we're supposed to be reacting. The popcorn scene may appear to be a failure, but what is it actually failing to be? Was it supposed to be scary? Titillating? Or was it actually supposed to be exactly what it ended up being, fun and ridiculous? The movie may not be brilliant in the sense that it's actually a satire, or that the whole people turning into plants thing is some kind of metaphor for the general state of human loneliness and sense of isolation. But there is a kind of brilliance to how strange it often gets. There's nothing else like this movie. It's an original. It's fucking innovative. There are things in Troll 2 that you will never see in any other movie.

Which brings me to another question. How could Troll 2 have been any better? If the movie had contained realistic acting, realistic costumes, and an explanation for how the hell Grampa Seth planned on using that fire extinguisher to "cause confusion", what would the movie have been? Would it still be worth watching? I doubt it. So isn't there value in that? Without the so-called bad stuff, it would fail to be worthwhile, so again, how can it be considered bad if it's exactly what makes the movie valuable?

However you ultimately interpret it, though, as good or bad, Troll 2 is insanely entertaining for just about anyone. For me, there's no such thing as so bad, it's good. Troll 2 is a movie that is so good, it's fucking amazing. Every second of it makes me feel fucking awesome, and I love it to death, with full sincerity.

08/19/05: DVD
06/20/06: DVD
06/21/06: DVD
06/23/06: DVD
07/16/06: DVD
08/18/06: DVD
11/17/06: Projected DVD
05/25/07: 35mm
08/10/07: 35mm
06/05/10: Projected DVD

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