29 January 2007

Wait... shouldn't I hate you?

Sometimes I get DVDs from Netflix and then keep them for months. Literally months. There's all kinds of reasons for this, like how I tend to work during the day and see plays at night, leaving me little time to watch a movie. There's also the fact that I can't handle starting a movie without finishing it. Andrew can watch something over a period of days, but my heart is not built that way. I need to see the completion of an arc, dammit!

Recently, I had "Harold and Maude" for ages, and I finally returned it without watching it. Pleae refrain from sending letters. I know it's supposed to be great, memorable, etc. But you know what? It had its chance. Just like "Apocalypse Now" did for my entire second semester of my third year in grad school.

In "Harold and Maude's" place came "American Dreamz." Now it just so happens that I've been on a bit of a movie-watching kick, since I don't have to go to the theater until Friday. That means I actually sat down and watched "American Dreamz" today, and it led me to a question of enormous weight:

What the hell is up with Mandy Moore?

Like, how did she sneak up on us and become this respectable star? Because if you ask me to free associate with her name, this is what happens:

You: "Mandy Moore"

Me: "Ugh. Disposable."

You: "Stephen Moore."

Me: "Cool! I went to grad school with him!"

You: "Roger Moore"

Me: "Umm... wasn't he a Bond?"

You: "Mandy Moore."

Me: "Wait. She's still around?"


But if you look harder at the evidence, Mandy Moore is not only still around, but kind of around in a serious way. It may not be brilliant, but "American Dreamz" is a decent movie--a satire of American politics and "American Idol" from Paul "About a Boy" Weitz that stars such totally credible actors as Marcia Gay Harden, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Quaid, Jennifer Coolidge, and the super cute Hugh Grant. ("Music and Lyrics?" If you insist!)

Then you have to think about "Saved!", a movie that rules and in which Mandy Moore is the bomb. Hilary Faye, y'all! She is filled with Christ's love!

But that's just one movie. Is that enough to justify my grudging respect? Or Hollywood's? How is it that Mandy Moore's obvious crap movies can still star Diane Keaton, while Kate Winslet, queen of all that's awesome, gets stuck next to the soul-crushing horror of Cameron Diaz while trying to pretend she finds Jack Black attractive?

My disbelief mostly springs from the fact that Mandy Moore was first presented as a pop starlet along the lines Britney, Xtina, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer "Who?" Paige, and Willa "What?" Ford. But even though she has an album called "Greatest Hits," Moore never actually had a hit. I mean, there were songs like "Candy" and "I Wanna Be With You," which were on the radio enough to make her annoyingly memorable, but do you know how many Mandy Moore songs have been in the top 40? One. The top twenty? Less than that.

Yet even Moore's barely-there music career isn't ridiculous. She released a fairly respectable album of covers on which she tackled Joni Mitchell and XTC. XTC! When Jessica Simpson covered Patty Griffin last year, I almost vomited. But if Mandy Moore did it, I'd probably listen to a sample before judging.

And Mandy Moore's new album features songs that she has co-written with Lori McKenna (an exceptional singer-songwriter), plus a cover of "Give in to Me," one of the best forgotten Michael Jackson songs of all time.

So... could it be that I'm actually excited for Mandy Moore's new album? Is it all thanks to an appearance in one really good movie and a general ability not to become a fame whore while her peers appear on Maxim covers and in mug shots?

I don't know. Really, the whole thing makes my mind reel.



At 9:38 AM, Blogger Laura B said...

I'm coming out as a Mandy Moore fan.

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

First of all, brilliant. I laughed out loud. Twice. Secondly, I have loved Ms. Moore for a while. As you mention, she has long been able to avoid the general blanket of whoredom tossed upon the throng of teen queens to be a respectable young lady. I'd like to have some tea with her. Now, I would never spend US$ on an album (CD? what?) of hers, but I will come over and re-watch American Dreamz with you, if you'll have me.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger N said...

My friends and I have had numerous conversations on this exact topic - our reluctant and mysterious affinity to Mandy Moore. Glad to know we're not the only ones who can't quite figure it all out.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Liz said...

It seems like that's the consensus on Ms. Moore. I've always been very impressed with her ability to stay classy - in general and in comparision to others in her genre. To your point about working with Lori McKenna, she used to have an awesome, beautifully raw cover of her singing "Beautiful Man" on her MySpace. Not that I, um, visit her MySpace.


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