Awkward Press

Independent publishers of imaginative fiction and daily meditations on the ridiculousness of the universe.

The Awkward Movie Challenge: Magnolia

December 23, 2009 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge


According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.



When we go to the movies, we have fairly reasonable expectations for whatever flick it is we’re going to view. If we’re to watch a comedy, we want to laugh. If a horror movie is on the docket, we want to get the chills. A drama should wrap us up in its plot, or at least engage us with characters worthy of emotional investment. At the very least, we want to be entertained. Some movies actually fulfill such expectations. A lot don’t. But then there are a select few that take our expectations, lift them over their heads, and smash them to pieces. I recall having such an experience around this time a decade ago. I was a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, a movie that blended the epic storytelling of Scorsese’s Goodfellas with the puerile silliness of a seventh grader telling dirty jokes to crack up his friends at recess. So, naturally, I was psyched to see Anderson’s follow-up, Magnolia (released ten years ago this Friday). The trailer was pretty incomprehensible, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The cast was pretty stellar, though (Julianne Moore and Jason Robards, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Melora Walters, Melinda Dillon, Phillip Baker Hall, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly…). Tom Cruise was in it too. (more…)