I am going to start this article by saying you have to be a somewhat older guy who has made a myriad of poor life choices to really enjoy this movie. That is not totally true, but boy, does it help. You also have to be, um, prepared to walk away from it a little messed up. I Melt With You is a story about old friends drifting apart and growing into adults they swore they would never be when they were kids. This is the sequel to Stand By Me you never wanted, but never knew you needed. It is about how scary failures can be, and how strong a promise can remain between people who love each other, even decades later. Oh, and it might be one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen. But I am not like most people. That didn’t make it a “bad” film to me. Quite the opposite, really. In some sad and scary ways, I related to these guys.
How they look right here is how I feel, 98% of the time in my waking life.
First off, I have to say, I really believe the only reason this movie was not huge is because it genuinely f*cked some people up. When I sat down to watch this movie, I knew two things. The stars who were in it (amazing lineup, by the way, with some great chemistry) and the brilliant director, Mark Pellington. Many know Mark from his sagacious run on many great 90’s videos (think Jeremy from Pearl Jam as a perfect example) so if you grew up a child or teen of the 90’s (like I did), you already have an affinity towards this guy’s mind and eye for direction. But other than that, I knew nothing. I knew as much as the trailer told me. I felt like this film would be stark and bleak and honest, and it looked like it had the potential to be heart breaking. But it also had a cast and lush visual tone that just called to me. I knew little of what was about to be going on as sat down to watch I Melt With You, but I had a feeling I would walk away changed. Heck, maybe even a little broken. That much I was right about.
So did you have that gang of friends going up? This is aimed more at the male crowd than female, with no disrespect to that gender in mind. That one group (either as kids or teens) who were just your real family amid the ugliness of life? The people who you swore you walk to ends of the Earth with? But then life happened. You all got relationships and jobs and drifted apart. Who you were, and whom you thought you might be, is not who you are. Well, this film is about a gang of four friends who had been extremely close for years, but life happened and they drifted apart. The movie begins with them getting together for a raucous reunion for their friend Ron’s 44th birthday. This involves a lot of machismo and a lot of drugs. Initially, anyway.
Yes, let’s get f*cked up and forget how f*cked up we are in real life for a few hours!
This is where I tell you about the cast. We have Thomas Jane as Richard, Rob Lowe as Jonathan, Jeremy Piven as Ron, and Christian McKay as Tim. Make special note of McKay. You may not know him as well as the other, but his character of Tim will never escape your mind. I will not spoil it, but times have gotten quite dark for him. I know a few of those names may be guys you might like to smack (Jeremy Piven, for example), but that is kinda the point here. You see a different side of these guys if you get deep enough into the movie. At first, they are exactly as annoying as you think. At first, you think this is a movie about a bunch old older dudes getting together and doing massive quantities of drugs and trying to get laid. No, that is merely stage one of all this. That is the pretend stage. When they are still sort of just pretending they wish they were young again and want to live like mad men a few more times to break away from the monotony of their lives they built for themselves back home. The more messed up these guys get on drugs, the more real the conversations turn. We find out that everyone has some skeletons in their closets, and these skeletons are doing some shaking of their bones to keep them awake at night.
I know you are waiting for a trailer, but you are not getting one this week. Honestly. I have this odd hankering that the trailer (this time), paired with my cryptic, vague talking about the movie will truly give away too much of the film. The REAL movie for I Melt With You truly does not begin until about 45 minutes into the movie. These four bring some girls back to their place, thinking they can do drugs and get laid and pretend their lives are not what they are. This is the part where I remind you that being someone who may be a bit lost, a bit older in life, helps you appreciate this movie. I mean, are any of who we thought we would be? If our child selves could see our adult selves, what do you think they would say to us? Would we warn ourselves? Anyway, it is during the party, which involves some three way sex and way MORE drugs, that the root of what this movie is about reveals itself. It reveals itself in the most tragic of ways, and to say the movie makes a tone switch at this point would be a bold understatement. It not only switches gears, but it feels like you get kicked in the groin and heart in the process. That feeling does not go away until the end of the movie. It only grows.
You hate some of these actors? That is the point. They hate themselves. The casting is perfect.
But what you see in that remaining forty five minutes is some of the most honest and heart breaking dialogue you will ever see on screen between men. People didn’t like this movie because men are supposed to be strong and virile and able to hold all the weight of everything on our shoulders at all times. We are not supposed to cry to one another. We are not supposed to say “oh my god, I f*cked up. What have I done with my life?” to one another (or anyone, for that matter). But I Melt With You shows a (very honest) side to men, and one we are not even usually allowed to show one another. For that reason, people shit on this movie. Or they walked away from it too depressed to allow themselves to appreciate how brave and real it was. The world complains that all men on film are the same (robotic, perfect, without feeling) and the first time someone really writes them as raw and vulnerable and broken, it gets pushed away and ignored. What that showed me is the world wasn’t ready for it, and that is a damn shame. Because I believe it is one of the bravest and most honest movies ever made about just how brittle we end up being when we realize we wont grow up to be the astronaut we wanted to be and our frigid wives inexplicably hate us. Yeah, no one warns us about that as little boys. This movie calls that out, and I love it for it.
A film that will leave you exhausted, but affected.
I love I Melt With You. It is a lush, beautiful, heart-breaking movie. It is a movie about the power of friendship, the cult of respect between men, and just how f*cking broken we really are. I am sorry that scared most people away from this amazing film. For me, it felt like finally watching some people I could relate to. Again, though, I must remind you. It will mess you up. That is sorta the point. Life never quite plays out like the fairy tale we think it will, does it? And some promises never go away….
If you dig the darkness like I do, head over here and read about some real darkness, and then throw up a like over here and tell me what ails you. I have a good ear for listening, too.