Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wayhomer Reviews

Howdy, folks!

If you find yourself holed up at home on a long weekend, have geek-minded sensibilities, and also happen to be a fan of big, dumb action movies, you might give's "Wayhomer" movie reviews a try. The concept here being, Widgett (Widge) Walls, a blogger for Need Coffee, holds forth on whatever movie he's just seen, doing so on a camera in his car on his way home from the theater.

I know of Widge through my buddy Doc at work. I've never actually met him, but Doc describes him as "an extroverted Doc," and I'd say that's about right. Like Doc, Widge has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of movie genres, tropes, styles, and conventions, not to mention comic books and sci-fi. Both Widge and Doc favor black jeans and black t-shirts with some strange imagery on them, and they both have the ability to spout off rapid-fire snarky remarks from the top of their minds, much as I do. Doc has more of an English major-geek bent to his "geek-fu," Widge has a beard. That seems to be it as far as differences go. I guess the fact that I consider all this cool goes a long way toward explaining my friendships.

Anyhow, I was curious about Widge's thoughts on The Last Airbender, the latest M. Night Shyamalan fantasy, as the film looked interesting to me. This was the first review of Widge's I'd watched in the Wayhomer format--I'd read quite a few on Need Coffee--and I was hooked. In 10 minutes, 41 seconds, Widge delivers one of the most hilarious verbal demolitions of a film I have watched since Siskel and Ebert took on Smokey and the Bandit 2. So after this review, I decided to watch all 24 (now 25 at this writing) of Widge's Wayhomer reviews for sheer amusement's sake. On the whole, I was not disappointed. My second-favorite review is Widge's take on Sex and the City 2, because he watched it on a dare by his readers and apparently hated it so badly that he became disoriented walking back to the car.

So what makes the Wayhomers so much more entertaining than, say, Leonard Maltin or Gene Siskel (minus Roger Ebert)? Well, Widge talks like a lot of my friends, which is to say, a comic/action/sci-fi movie geek. He knows the genres, knows what works and what doesn't, and is able to identify when films do well at what they're supposed to do. He isn't as animated when going outside those genres (Sex and the City aside) because that isn't his element. However, put him onto something like Avatar or The A Team, and he can give you a convincing explanation for why you should or should not see the movie, and under what conditions (pay for the 3D big screen vs. rent it via Netflix). In short, Widge is an excellent critic because he can tell you why something sucks (or doesn't) without spoiling the plot for his audience.

There are a couple of conventions in Widge's Wayhomers that have also become standards of their own, so much so that you can't help catching them once you've seen them a couple times (or, in my case, a couple dozen times). He seems to have had his format in mind from the beginning, and has stuck to it religiously since then. Every entry begins with Widge coming to the car, leaning his head over the top of the door, and saying, "Howdy, folks." You expect to see Widge in black jeans and a black t-shirt (and sunglasses if it's sunny). You expect him to gripe about the weather in Atlanta, regardless of what it is. You expect him to get an actor's name wrong at some point. If he's on the expressway, he'll just vaguely wave before saying "'Bye." He will often rate the film based on "cups" (of coffee) vs. stars, in honor of the Need Coffee web site. Just before the end, you see who the "camera wrangler" is for the episode. And yes, in less than 11 minutes, you can expect Widge to provide a decent, entertaining and shoot-from-the-hip lecture on why you should or should not see a particular movie. You don't have to watch them all at once like I did, but the Wayhomers are still worth watching. However, you might not appreciate Widge's approach if, perchance, you like movies like Sex and the City 2. Just sayin'. 'Bye!

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