“Wildlife,” My Movie Review

This week’s post is a movie review. This is my first, mainly because I don’t see many movies, and when I do I usually wish I hadn’t. The last one I saw in a theater was Churchill. I didn’t like it, because I thought they made a mistake or maybe the kid in the projection booth lost the final reel. I couldn’t believe the movie ended just as it was getting interesting. I got irate, which hardly ever happens, as you might expect.

The movie in question is Wildlife, a family drama with Jake Gyllenhaal of gay cowboy fame as Jerry Brinson, a husband and father. He doesn’t appear to be gay in this movie, however. The other characters include his wife, Jeanette, son, Joe, and an evil businessman who drives a pink Cadillac, walks with a limp, and sucks on cigars the size of turds. His name, interestingly enough, does not begin with a “J.”

Before I begin, I would like to point out a mistake I have seen in most reviews of this movie, including the link above. They state that the movie takes place in “1960s Montana.” This is somewhat misleading, especially when you consider how different America was in 1961 as opposed to 1969, even in Great Falls, Montana. The director included an audio recording of JFK on the campaign trail promising to “get the country moving again.” That, plus a photo of President Eisenhower on the wall at the grammar school where Jeanette has to cover a bounced check, tells you that it is 1960, no earlier and no later.

The reason I went to the movies in the first place was coincidental. I was at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus and wanted to take the shuttle up to the Bronx. But I hadn’t reserved a seat and had to wait with a crowd of undergraduates to see if there would be room. When you consider traffic at 7:00 pm on a Friday night heading out of the city, the ride would have lasted more than an hour, which would have meant sitting on the Henry Hudson for that long. The parkway, not the river. So, I decided to take in a movie and catch a later van.

My first stop was a movie theatre off Broadway, but it had been torn down since my last visit. Undeterred, I proceeded to Lincoln Center, site of the disappointing My Fair Lady, which I saw two weeks ago (I am not easily impressed). I was just in time for two movies, one of which was about a Danish police dispatcher, a kidnapped mother, and the mother’s young daughter. The more the attendant described the movie to me, the more I wanted to see the other one, which turned out to be Wildlife.

The movie theater at Lincoln Center is a small, art house type of theater, which I prefer to the large, corporate complexes. I did my business in the restroom (gender specific), found a spot in the middle of the back row, turned off my cellphone, and settled into my seat. Then, just as the pre-movie highlights began, the back row filled up with a mob of people. It was as if a tour bus had let out. By the time we got through the short video in which New York producers, directors, and actors mug it up and tell you how great they are, I knew I was in trouble.

On my left was an awkward millennial who jerked his knee at such a rapid rate that I thought he was masturbating. It’s been known to happen. When I determined, after careful observation, that he wasn’t a pervert but some incredibly high strung kid, I relaxed and moved my leg as far away as possible to avoid getting a rash.

On my right was a large woman who swallowed her spit loudly every two minutes. In addition, her stomach kept churning. The knee gyrations, spit swallowing, and stomach churning went on for the entire movie. I thought about putting in earplugs, which I carry with me as dutifully as an asthmatic carries an inhaler. But that would have turned the movie into a silent film.

I wasn’t about to let that happen, not when the characters were becoming “standing dead,” to use the mother’s not so subtle term for describing her world, which was portrayed as one of sexual/ social oppression and spiritual poverty. She was something of a Nora Helmer from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, except the house she escaped from was the servant’s quarters.

In the meantime, Joe, the son, was caught between his father and mother as things got increasingly worse for the family. Jeanette finally moved out. I felt like Joe, because I was stuck between Gyro Man and Phlegm Woman, but neither one was moving out. Still, it’s a good movie. Go see it.

Haven’t had enough? Go to Robert Brancatelli. Feature image by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash. Cadillac photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance.


  1. When I go to a movie its usually an off obscure time. Either a Sunday Night at 10.00 or early morning during the week. I don’t think the cinema has as much influence on the culture with the start of talkies right through to the 70. It is not a vehicle for trendsetting anymore it’s more like a fantasized reflection, so much distant from reality. The investors, directors, producers were artists in the true sense. The people in show business now appear to be wannabe politicians with severe image and sexual identification. Thanx for taking me for the journey.

  2. Wow!!! Too funny! I can see that you are having entirely too much fun writing these blog entries. I enjoyed meeting your seat companions. Are you certain that these persons didn’t become characters in your cinema experience? I was surprised that you didn’t invite them out for coffee afterward? Your calm presence would have been an intervention for the anxiety of one and digestive realignment for the other. Really enjoyed your post.

  3. Well, you certainly avoided one of my pet peeves – movie reviews in which every major plot point is revealed!:-) However, your theater experience makes an excellent case for DVDs and streaming. Also, in one’s own home it is possible to subdue any nuisance (otherwise known as ‘husband’).

    P.S. For a good Churchill movie, try, “The Darkest Hour”.

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