What we do in the Shadows (and where I ponder whether David and Margaret have lost the plot)

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“Slow”, “Ugly to watch”, “Muddy and scruffy”. 

“Oh gosh…”

“So stupid and really boring”.

“I’m giving it one and a half stars.” (Margaret) “Oh that’s generous, I’m giving it one”. (David)

This is how Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton described Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement‘s new film, “What we do in the Shadows.”

I should say I have looked forward to this movie all year. And although my expectations were high, I am definitely not a sycophant. If the film truly did suck, I would accept that. But I could not help being a bit skeptical when I saw this review on the ABC TV series At The Movies this past week. It was a pretty brutal assessment. Especially since IMDB had the movie at 8.2 at that stage (I checked), and it had a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (Just noting on both scales the movie has since increased those margins).

If they are gonna put that epic amount of shit down, well, they had better have good reason and be able to back it up. Just sayin.

So we went to see it last night and I thought it was great. If I was going to be a bit picky I would say it sagged a tiny bit in the last third. It wasn’t as amazing as “Boy” or as hilarious as the best “Flight of the Conchords” episodes, but it was truly solid. I thought it was actually pretty visually lush for a mockumentory or a vampire movie for that matter. And it was genuinely funny with the Rhys Darby scenes particularly fantastic. And I really loved how they embraced the New Zealand references. It was a perfect running gag and I would say it was a gag that wasn’t going to get them in the good books with a studio who wanted to market this movie in the States.

It had a simplicity, an element of crap, and that tiny-humour that I really appreciate. I actually think that sort of comedy is highly sophisticated, just because it is subtle, and homely (NZ-style), self-deprecating and relies on a peculiar type of characterisation (which is always refreshing).

WHAT’S FUNNY?

It’s really hard trying to describe why something is “funny”. I have a few jokes that I love to tell and I can really tell a lot about a person by their reaction to any of them. It’s not just whether they hate the joke or love it, it’s also about whether they actually like having a joke told to them, whether they have any jokes themselves and how they react to the increasingly alien conversational grenade of, “Can I tell you a joke?”

THE RELEVANCE OF DAVID AND MARGARET

Just finally I want to say I know being any critic you are going to get a big fat bunch of dipshits like me ranting at you when you diss something that attacks their (my) sickly-fandom world-view. It seems a bit pointless criticising a critic. But I would say in my defence that I’ve grown up with David and Margaret. They are the sort of celebrities that you just might want to have a beer with. Crucially — I’ve trusted them for so long.

So I guess I am really asking, what relevance do these two critics have anymore? It’s almost like they are just commentators, opinion writers for The Australian. They apparently cannot handle any base humour. They are getting so snotty and pretentious and nowadays I only really watch their show on iView so I can skip past any nonsense and head straight for the Movie Classic — which increasingly I think are the only movies they are actually qualified to have a say about. I am sorry to say, but senility is setting in.

Just sayin.

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2 thoughts on “What we do in the Shadows (and where I ponder whether David and Margaret have lost the plot)

  1. I agree with you entirely. I saw this film at a Melbourne FF preview and like most of the audience I thought it was hilarious. I also agree that it sagged a little around the 3/4 mark but it’s a shortish flick and I was happy with the ending, so no problems there. Humour is of course highly subjective, but both D & M just seemed to miss the tone of this completely. I was also surprised that they even criticized the look of it, which to me is one of its strengths. Yep, these days, when those two get it wrong they get it 110% wrong.

  2. I just googled ‘david and margaret, what we do in the shadows’ to end up here. Not only did I love the movie the first time I watched it ( on a plane ), but I find myself increasingly thinking about it, wishing I could watch it again, and rehashing trailers on YouTube.

    Because it was pretty bloody funny, and as you say, in a very clever way.

    Then I tell a friend to see it and she’s all “oh? D&M bombed it” and I was confused?
    I couldn’t see Margaret in particular not telling David to lighten up.

    Pretty disappointing of them to miss the mark so badly :/

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