When I was in high school, I took my grandmother to see Cats. I was excited: it was the National Tour, we drove into a nearest big city to catch it, and from what I knew it was going to knock the old gal’s socks off with its music, dancing, and frisky feline wiles. When the lights dimmed and actors in cat leotards appeared in the aisles of the theater wearing glow-in-the-dark cat-eye glasses, the delighted audience oohed and aahed. My grandmother turned to me and said, “Oh for Pete’s sake…”
I guess she was more of a dog person.
The Great Gatsby is the mega-budget film equivalent of actors in cat leotards sneaking into the audience with glowing eyes: some people are going to swoon, and others are going to turn to their grandsons and make it clear that they’d rather be getting a mammogram.
Conceived as an art deco migraine by Baz Luhrmann – the Michael Bay of jazz-hands – Gatsby explodes in 3D with all the spectacle, hyperactivity and emotional heft of a Transformers film. It’s bloated. It’s emotionally bankrupt. It’s simultaneously shiny and dull. Worst of all, it’s a love story that’s impossible to get swept up in, because it’s not actually being told – we’re expected to come to the film already understanding the core romance so that more time can be spent on ADD car chases (yes, there are several) and the promotion of a soundtrack of Beyonce singles reimagined as foxtrots.
This is a movie that grants equal literary weight to the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lana del Ray. This is a movie where characters’ accents enter the room before they do, like bad aftershave. This is a film that features a grown woman squealing in ecstasy because a man is throwing dozens of dress shirts at her.