Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Return

This weekend my Aunt Gloria asked me to go with her to see The Return at the Essex Cinemas. Aunt Glo is the Queen of The Return. When she married her fourth husband, my now ex-Uncle du jour Ralph, she received seven crock-pots as wedding gifts. Hey, it was 1978. Boogie Oogie Oogie sold 2 million copies and won its’ performers, A Taste of Honey, the Grammy that year for Best New Artist. They were popular. So were crock-pots. Both… not so much anymore. Still, my Aunt Glo didn’t want nor need seven crock-pots any more than she needed the dim-witted husband Ralph, but he came with the ability to bring her satisfaction much quicker than a crock-pot and he also had credit cards. The cookers, unfortunately, all came with no receipts, but Glo knew they came from the same store since there had been a huge sale on just that model a week before the wedding. It also helped that all were identically wrapped in the same Zayres’ paper with the store’s logo repeated in miniscule print twisted into curving lines until thousands of them looked from a distance like some vaguely computerized version of a rose.

So Gloria gathered up all seven of her crock-pots and attempted to return them to the store. She
had no use for or interest in keeping even one since she had not been in her kitchen since 1968, when she retreated there to watch her housekeeper’s television after RFK had been assassinated. She had hoped to find something to watch on tv besides the ongoing news of that tragedy and she also knew that the cook stashed a bottle of Wild Turkey in the breadbox, so she would have all the company she needed. Since then, she had thought of the kitchen as a part of the house that was something akin to a nuclear dumping ground. Only the brave and the paid help went there, and certainly nobody needed something that would slow down the cooking process. The customer service representative at Zayres scoffed at giving her a refund without receipts for the gifts even when Aunt Gloria presented her with over 300 photographs of the wedding and reception itself that she had just picked up at the Foto-Hut on her way into the store.

After two hours of haggling and whining (Glo has an advanced degree), she finally settled on the customer service rep’s offer of a store credit with the understanding that in the future any time Glo wanted to
return something for cash all she had to do was bring the items back to the customer service desk with a receipt for whatever it was and she would get a full cash refund, no questions asked. Okay, so my dear old Auntie took her credit slip and went out onto the shopping floor and began her task at hand. She looked like a mad woman hyped on methamphetamines as she raced up and down the aisles, snatching everything from baby shoes to pencils to candy bars to lamp shades until she had loaded her cart to the top and by her own estimate had come extremely close to the total of her credit slip. She purposefully chose the checkout lane directly next to the customer service desk so she could keep an eye on her favorite representative there while the cashier did her job. Sure enough, she went through the checkout line and her 93 individual items came to within $6.00 of the total of her existing credit. She settled up, got her many bags put in the cart, grabbed the receipt, and rolled the booty over to the nearby desk.

She cleared her throat and waited with a wide smile on her face. The customer service woman looked up from her paperwork and the words “May I help you?” automatically began to form until she saw who it was. Her face froze.

Aunt Gloria’s eyes twinkled as she waved her receipt like a flag of triumph. “I’ve come for The Return.”

I know today exactly how she felt then. I, too, came for The Return. I expected to feel the rush, the magic, which Aunt Glo always talks about when she brings some junk she doesn’t want back to a store, especially if it is a gift she doesn’t want. It’s a rush like none other, and I knew if anyone could provide that it would be Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge). Sarah has been always turned in “Lifetime Movie of the Week” caliber performances in her previous movie roles, so I knew we could at least expect that much from her in this little potboiler, which was advertised as a thrilling horror experience. Unfortunately, the advertising is as misleading as most of the salient plot points to come, and anyone coming to see The Return should know that this is absolutely not a horror movie. It’s a horror alright, but it’s not a horror movie. How disappointing.

The Return is actually a very s-l-o-w moving story about Joanna Mills (Gellar, of course), a hard-nosed sales woman who travels a territorial beat down South and holds her own in the mostly-male
dominated freight trucking business. Ironically though, she seems to fold easily when she has bad dreams about a shadowy cowboy who calls her “Sunshine” and tells her he wants to talk to her. That’s all it takes to have her panicked or screaming as she wakes up. She’s had these bad dreams for years, but they seem to have become more prevalent recently, getting to a point where she feels compelled to find an answer to where these dreams have come from. Naturally, it takes about a minute-and-a-half for her to figure out where to go, all from a clue found on the back of a trucking magazine.

Once she gets to the town in question her investigation drags along at a snail’s pace but with each dream we and Joanna get a bit more of the picture, and depending on whether your IQ is approaching triple digits or not will determine how quickly the fairly obvious answer as to what’s happening is made clear. For those who have seen the trailer or the poster for the movie and are expecting the arrival of ghosts, monsters, ghoulies, or some other things that go bump in the night, I’m afraid this is where you will realize that you’ve been had. The clips in the trailer that allude to such “supernatural” occurrences are more about clever editing than anything else. It is just a shame that whoever edited the trailer couldn’t have edited the entire movie and picked up the tempo a bit overall because by the time Joanna/Sarah finally resolves the source of her bad dreams I found that most of the audience were already experiencing dreams of their own, having dozed off. I had stayed awake because I felt I owed it to you, Dear Readers, so I spent the last 30 minutes of the film standing at the back of the theater to ensure that I’d not settle into one of the Essex Cinemas’ comfy cozy plush love seats and fall asleep with the rest of the slackers on hand.

The Return basically has only four characters besides Joanna. There is her distant old Dad, played by Sam Shepard (Bandidas), who must have been slumming because he is a much more credible actor, and here he has absolutely nothing to do but play a cameo without any “meat” to the
role; there’s Terry Stahl (Aussie tv star Peter O’Brien) as the widower and suspected wife killer who skulks around like an axe murderer; J.C. MacKenzie (The Departed) as Griff, the weirdo town garage mechanic who makes Norman Bates look positively cuddly; and, in flashbacks, Erinn Allison (Fast Food Nation) as Annie, Terry’s dead wife and the woman Joanna sees as the victim of a heinous attack in her dreams. Once Terry and Griff know that Joanna is psychically connected to Annie, suddenly she is being stalked by that same shadowy cowboy. Gosh. Who could it be? Could it be that one of the two men in the picture will try to off her before she “remembers” who really killed Annie? What a mystery! Yawn.

It is too bad The Return is not out on DVD yet. I am confident that if any movie could earn its’ title in a commercial sense this is the one. Aunt Gloria has already asked me to get her a day pass from the maximum security twilight home we keep her in for the day The Return hits the DVD shelves just so she can buy out the store… and then return all the copies the next day. Old habits die hard.

No comments: