May 20, 2015
Whether Fury Road is too much of a good thing is something that audiences and critics tend to disagree over. Fury Road is exactly the kind of purist, one-track visual film that’s easy to write about, much as Buster Keaton’s stripped-down slapstick stunt movies appeal more to modern film writers than do Charlie Chaplin’s sentimental crowd-pleasers.
Also, Miller yanked the chains of critics by supposedly having Fury Road deliver a feminist statement, driving, for example, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker into self-abasing self-parody:
I have been looking forward to this movie for months, trying not to watch the trailers more than twice a day, but, fool that I am, I hadn”t foreseen its feminist ambitions”crystallized in the sight of one Wife [the cartoonishly slim Huntington-Whitely], heavily pregnant, flinging wide the door of the War Rig and flaunting her belly, like a bronze shield, at her enraged pursuers. (The Wives were coached in preparation for the film by Eve Ensler, the author of “The Vagina Monologues.”)
My wife theorized that the lone plot twist in the movie “ after several days of driving in a straight line, the hero decides [spoiler alert] to make a U-turn “ is Max finally getting in touch with his feminine side. After all, she notes, on the rare occasions when I”ve admitted that I”ve been driving in the wrong direction, I never give in to her suggestion that we make a U-turn and go back to where we got lost (much less stop and ask for directions). Instead I always set off cross-country on a theoretically more efficient angle.
But, as Freud might ask, is Mad Max: Fury Road truly what women want to watch? Or is the purported feminist theme really just a convenient political excuse dreamed up by Miller to permit male film nerds to geek out once again (Road Warrior is easily in my top ten favorite movies of all time) over a film series that’s so ridiculously masculine that I”ve wondered uneasily if it’s not just a big gay fantasy. (Miller is on his second wife, so probably not …)
It turns out that what women actually want to see is Pitch Perfect 2, the amusing sequel musical about a cappella singing groups that crushed Fury Road at the weekend box office.