I regularly accept requests to review films and do so with boisterous glee. Hollywood is afraid of my brutal honesty but, once out of the “Golden State” of California the fear dissipates and my poignant slams are more graciously accepted. But then I get ambitious, underfunded, granola-laden documentary and I’m giddy as a schoolgirl thinking, “Tearing bad boy apart should be easy.”
I sat down to watch it, pen in hand, anxious to bring to humorous light the many painful shortcomings and unintentional self-mocking… yes, I really do much of my writing with a pen but that’s not the point. The sound was okay, the composition was fine, even the back music fit in well. Ten minutes into the film, frustrated, I threw down my notepad and committed to just watching it
The film 2,000 Miles to Maine documents hikers attempting to trek the 2155-mile Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine highlighting the difficulties and improbabilities involved in walking mountain trails in all weather, traversing more states than most people ever even get to see. I didn’t know there were interstate hiking trails and, admittingly, it’s a pretty romantic notion for sure.
As the trek and the film progress (both “northward” if I can use that to mean both “to the North” and “for the better). I did find the very few things I had expected to humorously poke fun at, though each came around as intended devices to the film. Many featured hikers gave up (Aha, I got something!) but they’re mostly followed up with. Unlike most documentaries it lacks the ever-present narrator and, once again, my would-be Aha! moment dissolved again as I realized that made me actually judge the speakers rather than rely upon the disembodied voice to tell me what to think.
As it winded to a close I was prepared with my anger. Nothing to mock is a mocker of me as a satirist (or cynic, if you prefer). Not to be outdone by a single DVD of any [non-pornographic] sort (those have always been my undoing and outdoing indeed), I steeled myself for the impending slam as it must surely follow.
In the final moments the triumphs of human spirit brought out in low-tech straight forward, real-life ways, my own inadequacies as a social aggressor seemed insignificant. Watching the trail end without fanfare, without outside praise but rather with overwhelming personal success and gratification gave me hope in the spirit and steadfast resolve of mankind. It’s almost tear-jerking, honestly.
If a dude with a backpack and cast-titanium resolve can walk the Eastern Seaboard, he can do anything! If he can do anything, so can I! Yes, I can make a mockery of film.
Of course, walking to Maine takes 4-7 months to do, and so shall my insult to film come. Give me ’til sometime early 2005 and my comical review will surely be forthcoming, unless of course, like 90% of those who attempt the Appalachian Trail, I give up the hike. In the meantime though, I will be watching film again. In fact, if there was a 2000 Miles to Maine book, I’d buy it too. Sometimes I feel sucked into self-doubt, but was singly the most uplifting true story I’ve seen since The Rookie and didn’t even have baseball in it.