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Film Review: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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Fresh Mel

It may shock you to learn that How I Spent My Summer Vacation couldn’t command a theatrical release in the US. Was it something Mel said? Well, yes it was. In the last few years, the ol’ prankster, famous for his onset japery, including the baring of buttocks between takes, has turned his machinacious mind to the media and hoodwinked them in spades, though that’s not a word Mel likes to use these days.

His campaign to undercut his on-screen nice guy persona began in 1995 when he shot Braveheart, a browning script by Joseph Goebbels. It ridiculed the English as effeminate (Mel cleverly suggesting an additional hatred of homosexuals). It told the world they were rapists (both actual and metaphorical). Some were fooled. To the layman it looked as though Gibson had a colonial chip on his shoulder, heavy enough to lumber him with Richard III’s stoop, whereas others, notably the Scots, were wilfully literal; adopting the star and embracing the film as the foreword for an idiotic nationalist manifesto. Mel’s head yawned with delight, yet he wasn’t finished.

In the years that followed he planted stories in the media, suggesting he was an odious, violent drunk, prone to anti-Semitism, “the fucking Jews are responsible for all the world’s wars”, and, in a note perfect and wholly staged phone rant, a hater of women and the group President Obama likes to call “black folks”, telling his then girlfriend that he hoped she was “raped by a pack of niggers”. Toss into the mix an alleged aversion to Stem Cell research, on bigoted grounds, and his Passion of the Christ, explicit in its depiction of Jewish culpability for the death of Jesus, and the one time darling of Hollywood had the trade and popular press alike eating out of his hand.

Unfortunately, Mel’s campaign of disinformation has been so successful that when he finally broke cover, telling the world it was all a gag and he was closer to Martin Riggs than Martin Bormann, no one believed him. Consequently the aging star, face lined with stress, is now reduced to low-budget fare like Adrian Grunberg’s down and dirty prison movie. It hardly matters that Mel, rigid as a dried out cadaver, has but a hint of his former on-screen confidence; no one is going to see it.

Conscious he’s overplayed his hand, Vacation, co-scripted by Gibson, attempts to realign perceptions by putting Mel in a redemptory situation whereby a Mexican woman and her young son can be both his salvation and people he can save. It won’t be much comfort to the hombre he allegedly called a “wetback” but an apology has to start somewhere.

Gibson’s part, a thief sent to a Mexican hell hole to rot, looks to have been written by a PR company; he thwarts a rape, restores a family and kills drug dealers. He chucks in the world’s worst impression of Clint Eastwood. You could almost like this guy. Sometimes you forget his background and you do; such is the power of movies.

Vacation doesn’t have much in the way of intrigue or excitement; it’s an ugly movie on account of its digital cinematography; but for all that there’s a gruff, hardboiled escapade to be passively enjoyed, despite the rather creaky lead. Kevin Hernandez as the kid with the precious liver is suitably brash and downtrodden; he gives a spirited performance. That’s more than can be said for Mel, though this is the kind of movie where a husky quip and a frown is enough. Gibson lets his craggy features and jellied jowls do the talking. Given his pronouncements in recent years, that’s probably the way forward from now on.

Directed by: Abrian Grunberg

Country: US

Year: 2012

Running Time: 95 mins

Certificate: 15 for strong Mel Gibson and anti-semitism behind the eyes.

9 Responses

  1. Iain Skinner says:

    Holy shit, dude. What are going on about?

    What did you think of the movie?

  2. Bill says:

    Yeah, nothing about this review seemed biased at all. None.

    Next time you are writing a review for a fucking movie, take the time to actually review the movie instead of going off on a nonsense rant against Mel Gibson. He did some terrible things. We get it. He apologized for it, but apparently that wasn’t enough to please your highness.

    If you can not be a professional and focus on your job of being a movie critic, maybe you should reconsider working for tabloids instead. From the looks of it, you would fit in quite nicely there.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      Well it would be biased, wouldn’t it Bill? It being a review and all.

      As for the “nonsense rant”, a) it’s all true, so not nonsense, and b) it’s what we in the world of words call, and I hope you’re writing this down, contexualising information, all of which leads into the second half of the piece which is a discussion of the film specifically. I assume you read the whole thing? You wouldn’t spam the comments section without reading it properly, right? No, didn’t think so.

      The point, for your benefit and for anyone tempted to make a similar, er, observation, is that Mel’s media troubles inform the content of the movie, which he co-wrote and produced, which is why it’s not only relevant to talk about the self-inflicted damage to his reputation, but necessary. Please direct any further questions on this point to Mel’s agent.

      And yes, his apology is not enough.

      • Jeff says:

        I supposed you “contextualize” all your reviews by spending most of your time detailing the moral failings of the actors? I didn’t think so. This wasn’t a review; it was Gibson-bashing. However well deserved said bashing, your job is to review the movie, which you chose not to do this case.

        • Ed Whitfield says:

          No it isn’t always necessary, but it *is in this case because, I repeat, and please try to understand so I don’t have to keep saying it, the context directly informs the content of the movie. To assume otherwise is naive beyond belief.

  3. Boss says:

    Im confused are you reviewing the movie or Mel Gibsons life?

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      I know, it is terribly confusing. See the reply to the last, identical question, for guidance.

  4. Mark says:

    This was not a review. If you despise a person and are unable to professionally distance yourself from your personal feelings, then you’re hardly going to be capable of giving a balanced critique of the film at hand.

    I don’t particularly think much of Mel in recent years either… but I’m about to watch this film with an open mind and see what happens.

    People mess up badly in their lives… we now live in a tabloid world that is unable to allow people to rebuild and redeem themselves.

    I guess that just means that us laymen have to be the ones that try to be objective since the professionals need to feed into what is popular rather than what is required.

    • Ed Whitfield says:

      With respect, that’s absolute bullshit. Gibson is a hateful, racist, anti-semite. Where exactly is the redemptive potential? Is he supposed to wake up one morning and be cured of it? That’s who he is. It’s not my job to help redeem him or feed into a redemptive narrative because you’re personally ready to forgive Mel his sins and that’s what you’d quite like, I’m here to talk about his movie. His choice of projects in the here and now, movies he’s involved in producing and writing, are, as I hope we’ve established, informed by his self-inflicted image crisis. To talk about the film as though it exists in a vacuum would therefore be idiotic. So I’m sorry but this is not only a review but one of the few that puts the movie in its proper context. You may think that context is irrelevant but you’re wrong, and in any event you’re welcome to write your own. In the meantime don’t presume to tell me what a review is.