We’re sticking with L.A. for the time being on Required Viewing. We’ve seen the Laguna kids all head north to the City of Angels, we’ve seen some classic hard-boiled noir taking place here, and now we take a look at a 1999 “he said / she said” drama, Body Shots.
A: Body Shots features an ensemble cast of mostly known actors and actresses, including Sean Patrick Flannery, Amanda Peet, Jerry O’Connell and a post-American Pie/pre-Sharknado Tara Reid. In it, O’Connell and Reid’s characters, after a night of heavy drinking, have relations and neither can really remember what happened. There’s also some examining of late ’90s sex and dating culture in a big city from each of the characters, who run the emotional gamut from genuine romantic to carefree promiscuity.
First up, as always, Brooke, what did you think of the movie? Why did I make you watch this? And most importantly, who do you believe? The actress or the star football player?
B: I must note quickly that I am a bit surprised that high school Annemarie chose this movie. It’s a bit dark, and I’m impressed. I think you chose it for a couple of reasons. 1. You know I get fired up about rape culture and like a movie that leaves room for debate. 2. So we could loudly air our opinions on everyone in the movie’s opinions. Have I overlooked anything? Perhaps a secret crush on Sean Patrick Flannery? If that’s the case, we’re definitely watching The Boondock Saints some time.
I had such fun watching this movie, the non-linear structure was a lot of fun and it’s still baffling to me how long ago the late 90s really seem by now. It was a total trip to see all of these people so young, and I honestly was kept guessing right up until the end. At which point I did exactly what the filmmakers wanted and complained loudly about all of the loose ends.
Now, I think that between the football player’s story and the actress’ story, that’s where we’ll find the truth. However, based on her hesitance to leave the last time we saw her with witnesses, and his aggressive plan to get her completely hammered, I’m definitely firmly on the side of he’s in the wrong here. Based on the state the several hundred Jello shots he fed her got her into, she was in no place to give consent. And if he could actually perform, well he must not have been as far gone as she was. What’s your take, AM?
And, what do you think was the goal of all the unreliable narrators and fourth-wall breaking we get? Just a storytelling device? Or social commentary?
A: I honestly don’t know why I was so drawn to this movie when I was 16. It showed a dark side to L.A. and I didn’t date much in high school, so I think the narrative devices and the conundrum of “who dunnit” mystified me and invited me back for a second viewing. There’s something fascinating about how the story unfolds and I think the narration to the camera feeds the documentary and social commentary of the story. The filmmakers are definitely saying something about how far we’ve strayed from the traditional romance of days gone by. “No one dates anymore” says Emily Procter’s character, and she’s still right, 15 years later. People are on dating apps sites and judging potential lovers from afar, but perhaps we’re more honest with the hookup culture as a result?
I would agree that the truth is in between the two sides. I don’t believe that Jerry was trying to go home after making out on the beach with Tara (that part is the most ridiculous and hardest to believe), but I also could buy that the reason Tara gets so worked up is that Jerry calls her the wrong name as he’s leaving. Now that discussion around true consent has had several more years to percolate, in any case, they were both too drunk to really give permission. Girls, we shouldn’t get that drunk, but boys, that doesn’t give you a free pass to rape. It’s an interesting discussion that truly has a long way to go.
What about Sean and Amanda’s characters? Could you date someone (even with the potential and the chemistry portrayed here) after you’re on the opposite side of a rape case? How much did the valets at the club see of the street tryst? And can you see Ron Livingston without getting angry on behalf of Carrie Bradshaw?
B: Oh, man. Tough call. Sean is super adorable, but I feel like Amanda was completely in the right to boot him the hell out when her friend showed up distraught. He was making it worse. I’m really not sure at all what happened between them. Like, we saw an embrace between them, but was that back in time, after all the maneuvering? Or a reconciliation? I have no idea. Whatever the case, I don’t think there is any going back for those two. These are big friendships and they will ALWAYS be in the way of a budding relationship. I’m pretty sure I would call it off in solidarity with my friend and bask in having a forbidden could-have-been love in my life.
The consent discussion. Still so painfully relevant, I dig that this movie didn’t pass judgement on the women, but I wish that we were in such a better place.
But I don’t have it in me to dwell so deeply just now.
Instead, I’m going to change gears and talk about those valets. There is no possible way they did not see and hear everything. And I mean everything. Also, this is a happening club in L.A., so someone, somewhere working CCTV got a real show too. I think we’re supposed to have an “Ooh, risk of getting caught, that’s hot,” reaction, but I recently just barely missed walking right in on someone’s proposal at Highclere Castle and I know exactly how those valets felt. Aka-awkward. It’s like, let’s just skulk here and not draw attention to ourselves until they are done with whatever all of that is. Also, personally, hard pass on sex on a fence or a car. Just, no. And speaking of that encounter, can we talk about how sad I was for her when he fell all over himself to take care of Tara? I mean, Tara needs some TLC, but come on guy. Clearly one of them is more interested in you. I don’t think she had any expectations, but it still gets you in the feels a bit.
And as for Ron Livingston, all I think every time, the whole time (the WHOLE TIME) I see him is this: “Fuck Berger.”
AM, have I missed any key points in Body Shots?
A: I am glad that you were able to divert yourself away from spoiling the mood of what I’m sure was a beautiful marriage proposal! I can only hope that Girl-Who-Had-Sex-With-The-Guy-Who-Loved-Tara-Reid-Instead will get one, someday. She deserves it, as do we all. Oh Berger. The post-Post-it note episode of Sex and the City is my favorite (Who doesn’t fantasize about being SO mad that they can yell at people on the street for small slights and not feel at all bad about it? Just me? Ok.).
I do think that’s about it. The cultural conversation about rape is ongoing, the question of whether Amanda and Sean will happen is indeed up in the air and also open to interpretation, and our time in this ensemble cast’s lives is at a close.
P.S. I have seen The Boondock Saints and couldn’t watch past the 30 minute mark of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (UGH THAT TITLE), so if you’ve seen all of that awful, awful sequel, I beg you to not include it on Required Viewing…
B: I’m so proud of you for having seen the first one! I never bothered to see the sequel so I won’t be forcing it on you. However, we are going to get deep, real deep into the modern twentysomething culture of another bustling city.
Next time on Required Viewing, we’re watching Broad City and asking some big questions. Do we have FOMO? Should we take get-out-of-work inspo from Ilana? Do we love anything as much as Ilana loves Abbi’s ass? Join us, won’t you? And find out.