Since we can't call it plagiarism... because it isn't...
Tonight after viewing ABC's PUSHING DAISIES, I found myself torn.
While I do think there is potential in the central conflict revolving around a man who brings a lover back from the dead only to never be able to touch her again, I had a hard time getting past the visuals, as well as the storytelling format itself.
PUSHING DAISIES didn't just borrow from Jean Pierre Jeunet's AMELIE. It drew itself a hot, steamy tub full of Jeunet's bubbly masterpiece and dove in head first.
Only Gus Van Sant's remake of Hitchcock's PSYCHO paid more needless detail to recreating the original. Except this wasn't a remake. It really wasn't even a similar a story.
And that's where my gripe comes in to play.
Jean Pierre Jeunet's AMELIE has been raped by such thieves. I find Travelocity's "traveling gnome" to be a ridiculous rip-off. The advertising campaign makes no sense outside the context of AMELIE. You have to have seen the movie to understand what a lawn gnome has to do with traveling the world.
From set design, to wardrobe, to the stylistic quirky vignette's told by a voice over narrator, even the choice of characters themselves -- for lack of a better expression -- pay "homage" to AMELIE.
cough*Even the very, very similar French music for no apparent reason*cough
AMELIE is a story about a woman that still has wonderful fantasies much like when she was a child. The central conflict revolves around, that maybe living in this fantasy world she has created, she has let life pass her by.
It is a coming of age story.
And the visual and directorial style, as well as the children's book narration, go hand in hand with that premise. Form follows function.
For PUSHING DAISES form does not follow function. It follows style. "Wouldn't this be cool? Have you seen AMELIE? I liked that movie. We should do that. Wasn't that great?"
I have to say that I was surprised that this effort came from a seasoned director such as Barry Sonnefeld. I have to admit, that Barry Sonnenfeld is one of my favorite directors. And I'll bet a large majority out there have no idea who he is.
Ever seen MEN IN BLACK? THE ADDAMS FAMILY? These movies have a unique personal style all their own. They brought comic book "type" movies into the mainstream without taking away their edge. Without taking away what made them work as comic books. (Granted, The Addams Family was a television show. But the directorial style is so similar to MEN IN BLACK that it is hard to dismiss it as anything other than a Barry Sonnenfeld film).
In fact, it is my own belief that such movies paved the way for the comic book movies of today, as well as the Harry Potter type movies and opening a mainstream audience to the fantasy genre as a whole.
PUSHING DAISIES, in terms of directorial and and visual style, seems to have taken a step away from the progressive.
I guess, I expect a lot from my entertainment. I want to see the bar pushed. I do not want to see watered-down versions of things we have seen before.
Especially, from an interesting, unique story that has promise on its own merits.