The thing with Life of Pi is, I expected it to be deep and full of hidden meaning like the book. And by “hidden” I don’t mean crazy hidden, just like “not immediately obvious.” I mean, it had all the parable-tigers and killer meerkat islands and symbolic zebras…but where was all the barely masked Jesus metaphors? Did they get eaten by the hyperactive space-whale? I just don’t get it.
Ang Lee is an awesome director. And the movie was stunning visually. I mean…I would go see it again just to look at the pretty pictures. Even with the crazy super-CGI-in-your-face animals it was worth it. There were moments in this movie when I looked at something and actually thought “Boom.” Like they were so pretty that the visual symbolism of what I was looking at was superseded by the effect that visual had on me. It was a little distracting to be honest. It’s hard to mentally process a hyperactive asshole space-whale. I don’t care what your name is. No one could ever be dismissive of Space-whale. Am I making this movie sound weird? I totally think I am. It wasn’t that weird.Promise.
The story, like the movie, is a loosely-veiled parable about religion. What exactly that message is was lost on me though. I was too busy trying to second-guess what everything meant. “OOO! A can! What does that can mean? Why did he throw it in the ocean? Will a shark choke on the can? Is the shark Jesus? Is it that one cool elephant-headed Hindu God? What was his name? Ganeesh! Shit. The credits are rolling.” In it an Indian guy who is named Pi, for reasons that are very tricky to understand because of the thick Indian accents that white guys like me from Upstate New York almost never hear, ends up stranded in the Pacific Ocean with a parable-tiger and all kinds of shit happens that makes him question God. Also he gets pissed on.
Should I have said “spoiler” before that? I probably should have.
You probably want to leave the kids at home for this one. There is some implied gore and monkey death. Also goat death. Lots of allegorical death all around actually…in fact,unless your kid is some kind of genius reincarnation of Kierkegaard, they’re just gonna be traumatized. I wish someone had left the kids in front of me at the movie at home because every time a “boom” moment happened on the screen, one of them was trying to take a picture of it on their iPhone. I also wish someone would traumatize them.
The only actor I recognized in this movie was Gerard Depardieu. I want you to take that at face value though. The movie didn’t need stars. It had a story that was weird and provocative enough that they could have cast Larry the Cable Guy as the Tiger, and Tom Green as the Space-Whale making all his ridiculous screaming noises and I still would’ve wanted to watch it. Also, Andy Serkis dressed in ping-pong balls playing the large be-nippled CGI orangutan woulda been cool. He’s the best pretend monkey working in the business.
In the end, as I walked out of Life of Pi, I was left with many unanswered questions. Like: “How the fuck am I going to write about THAT?” and “Can I actually review a movie that I like-hated?” and “Did I remember to throw out that bag of popcorn or am I an a-hole who just left it on the floor?” I think I am probably that a-hole. I also think people should see this movie. I can’t be all “Dude, you GOTTA!” but I can be all “Dude. You really should. Did I mention the Space-Whale?”