Joe’s Wacky Movie Reviews! – “High Fidelity”

This entry was posted on Aug 25 2011

The next movie that found it’s way into my DVD player was High Fidelity. This one is going to be a little harder to dissect because I’ve read the book (written By Nick Hornby) not three months ago, and I loved it. I’ve found very few adaptations of this nature (novel to film) that meet the standards the literary content has set. I think most people would agree that when content is read before watched, it usually comes down to “the book was better”. There are some interesting exceptions to this rule; I actually preferred the movie Choke to it’s Chuck Palahniuk paper counterpart; No Country For Old Men was almost identical to the Cormac McCarthy novel (kudos to the Coen Brothers). Personally, the movie for American Psycho missed the point completely, but I also happen to be a die-hard Bret Easton Ellis fan, so though Christian Bale was perfect, the movie would have needed to by an hour and a half longer, and much more depressing.

A little less Cusack on the cover, right?

High Fidelity was a good movie, but I can’t help but wonder what I would have thought had the book never crossed my path. Rob Gordon (John Cusack) owns a failing record store, has just been dumped by his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle), and is an elitist critic of music (most of which no one’s ever heard of). My disdain for John Cusack is rapidly evaporating. I enjoyed his performances in Identity, Hot Tub Time Machine, and even 2012 (though the movie itself was sub par). But his character in the movie was toned down from the book. He still portrayed the same type of man, but in the novel he was a little more self-loathing and solipsistic. I borderline hated his personality in the book. He was selfish and pathetic and whined and didn’t deserve to have a girlfriend who gave a shit about him. This however, is a problem for a movie like High Fidelity. Hollywood couldn’t produce a film that made you hate Cusack that much. You can think he’s annoying, but you can’t despise him. It was the same problem in I Am Legend. The book ends incredibly depressing, but the movie doesn’t. Because a Will Smith Hollywood blockbuster can not have a hopeless, morbid ending. There needs to be something there for the viewers to avoid killing themselves.

Laura wasn’t hot enough. I pictured a really hot punk rocker turned lawyer chick in my head when reading the book, and for the movie I got Iben Hjejle. A Danish actress who hasn’t been in anything relevant since High Fidelity and at the best, is kind of cute. Bravo for not casting gorgeous women as John Cusack’s ex-girlfriends (it would have been far too unrealistic), but Laura could have been a little better looking considering she was his number one, you know? Besides her, the casting is brilliant. Jack Black plays the perfect asshole (Barry) and Todd Louiso is the soft-spoken, meek Dick, Rob’s two co-workers. Jack Black is hilarious, but this was back in the day when that was a universal truth. He’s bitter and mean and talks down to people with bad musical taste and it’s awesome. He’s the guy at the beach who kicks sand in your face, but he doesn’t stop there. Jack Black’s version of asshole kicks sand in your face and then goes to your house and breaks every record, tape, and CD he can find. And then maybe jerks off into your pillowcase. Todd Louiso drove me crazy because he looked so fucking familiar. I think I’m remembering him from Snakes On A Plane.

Remember?! He played the snake expert who had to get the anti-venom!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this movie was the way Rob spoke directly to the camera. The book contains a beautifully obnoxious amount of narrative. I was wondering how this movie was going to get across all of Rob’s points from the book. They did it perfectly. Rob speaks directly to the audience, sometimes while scenes are still unfolding, even acknowledges that he’s in those very scenes, and delivers great candid emotionally compromised lines that reverberate through anyone who’s been recently dumped.

High Fidelity, the book and the movie, were two things I wish I knew about a few years ago. The overall themes for both are pop culture, top five lists, and a breakup. The first two being things I’m obsessed with, the latter being something I went through for the first time back in the day. Now I know for the future that if my current girlfriend ever decides to wise up and dump my ass, I’ll know where to turn. I’ll read/watch High Fidelity over and over again until I’m just bitter enough to do something destructive, and then acceptance will come and better me as a person. High Fidelity is a worthwhile movie, a great date film (even though it doesn’t sound like it), and at the very least will have you making top five lists of everything that interests you for the next few months.

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