This could be a perfect BMT film. Sure you can find your Morbiuses and Blacklights and laugh and laugh, but it’s the Here on Earths that set BMT apart. “Why are you watching that?” is what we want to hear. “Oh right, I forgot about that film,” is perfection. We want to turn to someone and say “You wanna see a bad movie?” and for them to get a perfect picture in their head of a human-cyborg dog kung fu buddy cop film we dug up from somewhere only to be presented with Endless Love and be like “WTF mate.” I cherish the time I showed someone Here on Earth and they deadpan asked me half way through “so you think this is funny?” and the answer was yes… and so were they. In that perfect moment they were hilarious. And that’s what Where the Crawdads Sing could be… could have been. If only it were actually bad.
To recap, Kya is a Marsh Girl. Much like the dreaded Lawnmower Man of legend, Kya is shunned by the town nearby as a monster. So when a local man is found having fallen to his death in the marsh all eyes go to the legendary Marsh Girl (who was also rumored to have been bedding that very local man). After she is locked up, her public defender tries to help establish her alibi and we get to learn about the ups and downs of her life in the marsh. We see her alcoholic father and how he drove Kya’s mother away first. Then the rest of her family until it was just her. She tried to go to school but everyone laughed at the Marsh GIrl so she eventually just lived in the marsh with the help of some kind shop owners. Eventually she finds friendship (and then more, awww) with a local boy who teaches her to read. He soon realizes that she knows more about marsh life than even the most expert expert, so when he leaves for college he suggests she write publishers about publishing a book of her nature drawings. She is dismayed by his departure and eventually falls in with the (eventually murdered) local man. He seems kind of full of himself, but she likes him. In the meantime she finds out she needs money to keep her marsh home, so she follows the advice and publishes a book… and then more books. And soon she really is the expert expert on marsh life. The local boy returns and is like “that local man is no good” but she throws rocks at him and is like get out of here, local boy. He turns out right, though, when she finds that her beau is actually engaged. She breaks up with him but he’s like “no Marsh Girl breaks up with me” and assaults her. She escapes and soon thereafter she heads off on a trip during which the local man is killed. That lands us back in the present where she is found innocent because her trip has given her a pretty rock solid alibi and people also realize the Marsh Girl isn’t so bad after all. Jokes on them, because after a long and beautiful life with the local boy he finds a piece of evidence that suggests she really did murder the local man (what a twist!). But he throws it in the marsh because he loved her. He loved that murdering Marsh Girl. THE END.
I liked this film. I was picking up the emotional beats it was putting down. Looked great, well made, solid acting, and effectively pulled at my heartstrings. I can see why fans of the book liked it. I can see why people who didn’t read the book liked it. It fills the void that Nicholas Sparks left and did it better than most of the Sparks films we’ve watched. So why is this a BMT film? I’m not sure. It probably is hurt by just how popular the book is. It is almost inconceivably popular and there might be a bit of a backlash to that. Seems like maybe the book is like… actually really good to boot. So when a mainstream pretty good PG-13 film adaptation is made the book’s shadow looms too large. It comes off as weakening the (already morally dubious) message. Otherwise I’m a little confused. The movie is just fine. Some reviewers called it dull. But that’s like… just your opinion, man. I liked this film.
Hot Take Clam Bake! The local boy (now a local old Marsh Man) shouldn’t have thrown out the evidence of murder so foul at the end. Do you not like money?! Think of the local economy you could have sent rocketing with the revelation that the Marsh Girl actually did get away with murder. Sure, also closure for the local man’s family, but we got podcasts, we got merchandise, we got a Marsh Museum. See where the Marsh Girl planned it all! You thought her nature books sold big before. Get a load of what happens when you hint that she left clues to her OTHER MURDERS in her books. You have deprived the whole town of financial security. Jobs, man. J-O-B-S. Do you hate jobs? Do you hate the economy? Disgusting. You disgust me. Hot Take Temperature: Rocoto.
‘Ello everyone! Where the Crawdads Sing? More like Where the Craw-bads Stink, amirite?! Alright boys and girls, we have to adapt a beloved book into a film. Be very careful about being faithful … wait, not like that! Let’s go!
- Of all the 2022 films I’ve seen for BMT this is probably objectively the best one. I’ve had it recommended to me by multiple people without them realizing I was already going to watch it because it is a “bad” movie. They seemed genuinely unaware that the film was critically not well received.
- And honestly, while it is a bit long, and a bit dull, overall it probably is the best bad movie of the year by a long mile. It has an incredibly compelling main character, a fun period aspect to it, a very strong supporting storyline involving the store owners who help care for Kya, a romance that felt not forced and genuine, and a villain whose villainy also felt genuine. Some of the acting is weak, but it’s a grab bag when you are dealing with young actors and a long production I think.
- Things I would change #1: I would have made it much more of a courtroom drama than it was. The courtroom aspect of the story was touched on so infrequently that it felt forced / rushed / cobbled together. If you tell the story thoroughly through testimony, vignettes of perceptions and descriptions, prosecution then defense, it feels like that growth from Marsh Girl to Kya and the believability of her alibi maybe works better. Full disclosure: I never read the book.
- Things I would change #2: I would have shown the murder at the end. Weak cop out to merely leave to one’s imagination the strength and cunning it took for Kya to pull it off. Then again, you might have been tempted to fashion a more unambiguous “Kya only defended herself really” story, so it might not have worked showing her in all her cold blooded glory.
- Things I would change #3: The world seemed half-baked in that I really had no idea where anyone but Kya lived. I had no idea how far the town was, how often people saw her. Did people know her? Where was the beach? What did people actually think of Chase dating her?
- These are all fairly minor things though. Unfortunately for me it is tough to make fun of this film. But maybe there will be some room for that in Where The Crawdads Kill, the sequel to the film I made for the quiz.
- Definite Setting as a Character (Where?) for the marshes of North Carolina, this is such a North Carolina film it feels like a bizarro world where Nicholas Sparks is good at writing (zing). Solid Secret Holiday Film (When?) for July 4th playing a major role in the romance underlying the entire movie. And definitely a Worst Twist (How?) for the ultimate reveal that Kya is a stone cold killer. Very much closest to Good.
As mentioned, read about Where the Crawdads Kill in the Quiz. Cheerios,