AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

7/4/08

Kabluey: Another Tired Family Values Tale About Women As Bad Parents Without Men Around

By Prairie Miller

A dysfunctional family frolic about a guy whose day job entails getting himself stuck inside a gigantic promotional mascot costume known as Kabluey, the movie that goes by the same name is itself an equally ill-fitting matchup of sorts between Daddy Day Care and Desperate Housewives. There's also a sidebar about a soldier stuck in a different kind of outfit in Iraq, that seems tossed in for cheap sentimentality when the jokes fizzle out.

Scott Prendergrast, who was last seen salivating around Paris Hilton in The Hottie And The Nottie, directs himself here - never a good sign - as Salman, the loser brother-in-law of sourpuss mom, Leslie (Lisa Kudrow in whining shrew mode). Salman's brother - Leslie's soldier spouse - has been stationed in Iraq and is due to return in four months. But Leslie has a slim tolerance for loneliness, or single motherhood, and she's transformed into a rejecting mom to her two inevitably maladjusted young sons, while possibly prowling around for a new man on the sly.

When Leslie sends out an SOS to the extended family that she's got to go back to work to make ends meet or lose her health insurance - and needs a babysitter like right now - Salman, who's just been dumped from his own job, turns up on her doorstep. His far from enthused sad sack sister-in-law makes no secret of her displeasure and contempt for the unappreciated Salman, who's really doing her a big favor. Especially considering that his bratty nephews from hell have conspired to make his life miserable, when not outright threatening to kill him. At one point, the terrorist tots pour powdered disinfectant down the throat of their sleeping uncle. This is supposed to be funny. Laugh track, please?

Some solidly kooky moments do materialize when Salman gets a job passing out fliers on a rural highway in that Kabluey costume, and during his hard time in solitary confinement inside that blue bubble decides trying his hand at some suited up superhero stuff, by righting various wrongs around him. But between far too many puke jokes and grating malicious personalities, there's something really fake about the entire proceedings, that exposes careless research about fairly important matters.

First and foremost, the wives of deployed military men don't need to struggle to make ends meet, or for their children's health insurance. Hello, those benefits are provided for soldier families by the government. There's also something a little tacky about using the Iraq conflict as an incidental plot device, and with absolutely nothing revealed about that war, the related issues, or who this soldier, so central to everything else happening in this movie, actually is. As for that Kabluey suit, Prendergrast spends most of the movie emphasizing his captivity squirming around inside that fashion nightmare, then later on simply slips out of it and is on his way.

Kabluey, a whole lot of thin storytelling and thick outerwear with one central sob story, and Iraq as an afterthought.

Regent Releasing
PG-13
2 stars

11 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    BigOneHundred writes:
    on Jul 03 2008 08:07 AM

    Actually you're wrong about the insurance part. For the first few years of the war National Guard service men/women lost their job coverage and were put on COBRA (which they have to pay for) due to extended deployments and stop losses. Even in the last year the Army has come under fire for providing substandard housing and ever narrowing coverage for long deployed service people with growing families. It's actually a really big issue for military families because it's hard to challenge the Army when you have to take care of 4 or 5 kids.

    Just a little reading and you might have found this out. If I can't trust you to do a little research how can I trust this review?

    ReplyDelete
  2. In reply to this comment

    TRICARE is a regionally managed health care program for Active Duty, Activated Guard and Reserves, Retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors. TRICARE brings together the health care resources of the Army, Navy and Air Force and supplements them with networks of civilian health care professionals to provide better access and high quality service while maintaining the capability to support military operations.

    The researchers noted that although deployments are undeniably stressful for couples, deployments may also benefit families in some ways, such as providing higher earnings from combat pay and the potential for career advancement. The military also provides other forms of support to military families, such as health care, child care, and housing subsidies, that may offer some protection from the negative effects of stress.

    ReplyDelete
  3. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    REPLY FROM THE DIRECTOR, SCOTT PRENDERGAST

    rockmale writes:
    on Jul 03 2008 04:33 PM

    In reply to this comment
    Hi Prairie - thank you for taking the time to review my movie, Kabluey.

    Just wanted to let you know that I did actually research this movie quite thoroughly. My brother Major William Prendergast is in the Oregon Army National Guard and he was deployed to Iraq for 1.5 years. While he was gone I stayed with his wife Jenifer for 2 months. And she did - in fact - lose health insurance for herself - and for my nephews. I was there when it happened, and I'd be glad to provide you with her phone number to verify this.

    You see, my brother works for NIKE - and the National Guard is a part time thing. It's supposed to be one weekend a month and two weeks a year. So - they didn't expect for him to be overseas for 1.5 years. Or to go to war at all actually.

    After my brother had been gone for 6 months, NIKE said "Your job is federally protected - but not your health insurance. We're sorry to inform you that we have to end your policy."

    Hence, yes, my brother himself had military insurance - but the family had been living on the NIKE health insurance policy and then it was gone.

    YES - she DID eventually manage to get health insurance through the military. But it was a complicated transition, a costly one, and it took a while. But then again, Kabluey is a fictional film. Not a documentary. Surely you understand that Lisa Kudrow is not my actual sister in law.

    Also, you say "the wives of deployed military men don't need to struggle to make ends meet..."

    Um, are you sure about that? Would you like to come over for dinner sometime? Perhaps you have first-hand experience on the homefront that bests my own - which is quite possible

    In any event, I do genuinely thank you for taking the time to review my first feature film. I assure you the research is real and hard fast. I also agree with a number of your criticisms, although perhaps not as vehemently.

    sincerely,
    scott prendergast

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  4. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    Eric D. Snider writes:
    on Jul 03 2008 05:49 PM

    Really? THAT'S what you thought this movie was about? Can I get a WTF?

    ReplyDelete
  5. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    pinkincide writes:
    on Jul 03 2008 06:47 PM

    Very classy, Mr. Prendergast.

    ReplyDelete
  6. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    Tommy Marx writes:
    on Jul 04 2008 12:56 AM

    I found the idea of "wives of deployed military men" having easy lives a little naive on the part of the critic. However, I thought overall her review was well-written and informative.

    I plan on seeing this movie anyway, partly because of the almost-iconic image of the blue mascot on a deserted stretch of road but mainly because I love Lisa Kudrow.

    I will say that I read Prairie's review of a movie that I have seen ("I Am Legend") and I agreed with it completely, so I'll probably wait to see Kabluey until I can Netflix it - if I like it after that, I'll buy it.

    Quirky is an incredibly hard thing to pull off, and even then, what works for one person might not work for another. So this particular critic didn't like it? That's only to be expected.

    I did like Scott's comments regarding the military wife situation, though. Again, I think it was a little naive of the critic to think that military spouses are taken care of when the men and women actually fighting for us and our country are often paid ridiculously low wages, given outdated equipment (if they're given anything at all), and often find that their current and future benefits are being slashed by a president who doesn't mind sending them to die but doesn't seem to care about making sure they can live.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Prairie Miller writes:
    on Jul 04 2008 05:38 AM

    Scott:
    Thank you for your reply and observations. While I'm aware of military families who don't have a problem with the benefits or insurance they receive (their anxieties are far more around the war itself and their loved ones in harm's way, which was not brought up in your film), I didn't mean to imply that they by any means live in the lap of luxury. My question about the film, was that it leaves the impression as a given, that those financial benefits don't exist at all.
    I actually enjoyed much of your film, but was left with negative feelings about some of these issues. Which is why my negative apple was very borderline, and not a hard Rotten. I do think you have a great imagination, and wonderful future ahead of you as a director. And I'm very much looking forward to your upcoming projects!
    Best,
    Prairie

    ReplyDelete
  8. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    girlene writes:
    on Jul 04 2008 06:51 AM

    Prairie, you say: 'their anxieties are far more around the war itself and their loved ones in harm's way, which was not brought up in your film.'

    Not brought up in the film???? What are you crazy, lady? Did you SEE the movie? It's ALL ABOUT their anxieties regarding loved ones in harm's way! That IS the movie! Why do you think Lisa Kudrow is crying for THE WHOLE MOVIE?

    Then you kiss his b*tt as some sort of lame apology when you realize his brother is a soldier?? You say 'I do think you have a great imagination, and wonderful future ahead of you as a director. And I'm very much looking forward to your upcoming projects!'

    Talk about not bringing things up! Where's the praise in your original review?

    You just got your b*tt handed to you. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. In reply to this comment

    Girlene:
    Your interpretation that she was crying about the war is...your interpretation. Can you offer any quote, please?
    That was my criticism, that issues are far too vague. You could just as well say she was crying over guilt for her libidinous temptations, her single mom loneliness, or that she gave birth to such demonic offspring.
    And no, I was not kissing butt because somebody's brother is a soldier. More to the point, why are you such an angry person??
    You hurt my feelings, but I am going to turn the other cheek. Sigh...

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  10. AnonymousJuly 04, 2008

    I don't think the war in Iraq was integrated into the film at all. I found the film compelling in odd sort of way, mostly through the sight gags like a hand coming out of the blue suit's anus. Frankly, I don't think the director had a clear idea of what he was trying to say. I do think it captured a sense of entropy that is now widely understood to be America's condition on this its birthday.

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  11. why does everyone act like this is the final authority on military families? it's a silly ploy to win pacifists on the left, patriots on the right, single parents, corporate slaves, and envious class-warriors. this is a bad ripoff of eddie murphy, steve martin, chevy chase, and martin short...unoriginal!

    ReplyDelete