Archive for Holly Hunter

Hollywood hooch: The drink of champions

Posted in Battlestar Galactica, Movies, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2009 by Dawn Raftery

Hollywood is holding out on us. Like everything else in la-la land, where even a bartender can come home to an apartment furnished by Pottery Barn, the liquor they drink on the big screen is better than ours, maybe even magical. This special liquor is also available to those on the small screen. Homer Simpson summed it up best when he said, “Homer no function beer good without.” Alcohol, often the bane of a productive existence for working-class America, is the elixir of modern-day life for movie and television stars, at least while they’re in character.

There are two groups of alcohol, and I’m not talking about wine and beer. There’s the kind you and I drink—the kind that, when drunk in excess, makes you slur your words, fall down, repeat the same story over and over again until all your friends walk away, pick bad bed partners, sing at the Christmas office party when you’ve never been able to hold a note in your life, make out with your boss at the Christmas office party when you’re both married and attempt feats of strength that only lead to UDBs (unidentified drunken injuries). And then there’s the kind you drink if you’re on TV or in movies—the kind that lets you slur your words but snap back into sobriety at a moment’s notice, operate heavy machinery without harm to yourself and others, charm everyone around you with your wit and intelligence, stumble upon beautiful bed partners, crack murder cases, solve complicated mysteries and essentially save the world. Really, in what aisle at Jewel can I find that liquor?

Nicolas Cage is the latest to join the pantheon of I-Drink-And-Somehow-Accomplish-Great-Things in “Knowing,” an Alexas Proyas flick about the future of Earth and the human race. Cage plays MIT professor/single dad John Koestler, who, still devastated over his wife’s death, ends every night by consuming massive amounts of hooch. When his son discovers in a time capsule a sheet of numbers, all of which seem random but are actually predictions of global disasters for the last 50 years, does Koestler stop drinking while trying to decipher it? No, he drinks more! In fact, the liquor appears to aid him in his intellectual quest for the truth, since he manages to decode the numbers and figure out the last few chilling messages while quite inebriated. (On a side note, I loved how Cage’s character held back in front of his son—he sips, albeit frequently, from his wine glass while they dine—but breaks out the hard stuff once the boy’s asleep.)

The days of Alex Stemberg-like morning afters—remember that 1986 movie starring Jane Fonda as a woman who wakes up with a hangover and no recollection of how she ended up in bed with a dead man?—are over. Now we have Holly Hunter on “Saving Grace,” playing a man-hungry detective who comes home drunk every night from the bar and still manages to get up the next day without fail, ready to tackle cases the next day. And, if she hasn’t brought a man with her, sometimes the intoxicated Grace lights a cigarette and lays out the crime scene photos on her living room floor while blasting hard-core music. The alcohol makes her “smarter.” On the grim “Battlestar Galactica,” a riveting TV series about the plight of the human race in the future, the two highest ranking military leaders suck down liquor like the ship they’re on sucks down fuel. (I have to give Adama and Tigh a pass on this, though, since the situation they’re in—the near extinction of the human race amid constant threats from an A.I. race—would make even the purest of souls pick up a draught or two.)

Drinking while succeeding—it’s a sweet fantasy, but ludicrous nonetheless. Let’s be honest: We all love liquor, but how many of us are at our professional best while drunk? Not many. Just like bourbon bottles come with warning labels, so too should movies and TV shows featuring this pastime as a daily occurrence: What you see here on the screen is not the truth. Not even close to the truth. If you get too drunk, you will walk into things and hurt yourself. You will fall down. You cannot leap across buildings; don’t even try to leap across puddles or potholes in the street outside the bar. You will most get in a stupid fight with your partner/spouse and end up alone and miserable, with only your puke beside you in bed for company.

This conspiracy is unfair. If Hollywood producers can’t give us this magical liquor proffered only to celebrities in their line of duty, we shouldn’t have to be taunted by these movies and TV shows depicting the achievements of the highest functioning drunks we’ll ever see. (And if anyone from Hollywood is reading this, I have an idea for a movie. It’s a remake of “Field of Dreams,” only this time the setting is the south suburbs of Chicago and the Kevin Costner character is trying to build a bar inside a library. Or maybe it’s a library inside a bar. The new slogan? If you drink it, the answers will come …)