As I’ve written before, I owe my love of movies to my mother. It’s been a rough year on the movie front for us. Several months ago, my mother had surgery to have a tumor removed from her pancreas. Though the operation was a “success” and the tumor was removed, she needed to undergo some light chemo treatments to “remove the microscopic particles we may have missed.” She did so but, unfortunately, the treatments did not remove the microscopic particles. In fact, she is officially stage four. Cancer has returned not only to her pancreas, it has also spread to her lungs and liver. She has had to increase the chemo treatments, a situation that leaves her weak, tired, and generally depressed. The entire process has taken a toll not just on my mom, but also on my dad who sits by feeling helpless to alleviate her pain. He has gone so far as to say that he can accept her dying, because it’s something we will all do one day, but he cannot accept her suffering.
Last week, after her regular chemo treatment on Monday, she had to get fluids on Wednesday because she was dehydrated, and a blood transfusion on Thursday because she was anemic. The entire weekend, she remained in bed, unable to sleep. On Sunday, Father’s Day, I sat with her while my dad, sister, wife, and children went to church. She mainly slept, but it wasn’t a restful sleep. The pain was simply too much. On Monday, she started the cycle again with her regular chemo treatment. And then, something wonderful happened. My phone rang Monday evening and it was my mom. She sounded better than she had in several weeks. She was talkative and seemed to have her old energy back. We basically made small talk and then she asked a question I didn’t think I would ever hear again, “Is Tuesday still five dollar day at the theater?” I told her it was, and she responded, “Then I want you to take me to see The Rock.” For all of her pain, suffering, and sleeplessness, my mother wanted me to take her to see Dwayne Johnson in Central Intelligence. This ended up being not just a mom and son experience, but one the whole family joined. My mother sat there with a popcorn bucket in her lap, surrounded by people who loved her, while she stared at the one man who actually makes my dad jealous.
The basic premise, for those of you who haven’t seen the trailer, is that an overweight high schooler named Robbie Weirdicht (Johnson) is bullied and shamed during a school assembly in honor of star student Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart). While the rest of the school laughs at Robbie, Calvin runs to his rescue, an act that Robbie never forgets. Twenty years later, the “most likely to succeed” Joyner is an accountant, while the much-more-in-shape Robbie is now a CIA agent named Bob Stone. Bob is back in town for the high school reunion and wants to re-connect with the person he considers his one true friend. Well, and get his help to stop a major terrorist transaction from taking place. Hilarity ensues. The film falls into a familiar pattern in this type of film with misdirections about who can and cannot be trusted, and there are just enough cameos and pop culture references to keep the target audience amused. Johnson and Hart have great onscreen chemistry and keep the laughs coming. In many ways, Hart was the straight man to Johnson’s over-the-top weirdness (unicorn t-shirts and fanny packs, really?).
Was it a good film? I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. I just can’t be objective about this one. Many people would call the film predictable, but if we look back to ancient Greek theater, the audience knew the story already. Going to the theater was about going to a public place and achieving a catharsis with a group of people. The audience knew the outcome, but they wanted to share the experience.
My mom loved it and I loved seeing it with my mom. This time, that was enough.