Review

Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades

by Joe Queenan



I've decided that I want to be Joe Queenan when I grow up.

Now, if you are familiar with Mr. Queenan's writings at all, an
equation probably pops into your head every time you see or hear
his name. That equation would be Queenan = Smartass. And it would
be correct. But so would Queenan = Genius. He is a genius in the
same sense that Gallagher, the comedian, is a genius. Both
gentlemen pluck disparate elements of the universe out of the ether
and harvest the essence of immutable, but heretofore unknown, laws
from it and lay such pearls before us. And are uproariously funny
while doing it.

Queenan's collection of articles and columns, CONFESSIONS OF A
CINEPLEX HECKLER, does this in paragraph after paragraph, page
after page. I was hooked from the moment I read the introduction,
concerning Queenan's founding of The Antonio Banderas Research
Society. I don't care how you read it, though, whether you start at
the beginning like a doobee and read straight through to the end,
or pick an article on the basis of the title and skip around, or
throw the book down the stairs and start reading on whatever page
the book falls open. He is hilarious. That is, he is laugh out
loud, wake-the-house-up, scare the cat, bend over double and lose
your donuts hilarious. He is also, in addition to being funny,
always right, even when you disagree with him.

Let's take, for example, the dissertation entitled "The Remains of
the Dazed." We all know what movie he is talking about here, don't
we. Several years ago I was dragged kicking and screaming to this
movie by a lady I was dating who had the voice of Madonna, the body
of Monroe and the temperament of an eight-year-old Diana Ross. I
sat through the whole thing, which was so long that it had an
intermission on Wednesday. At the close of it I turned to my
companion, my lover du jour, and asked, "Just for grins, could you
tell me what happened?" She of course, could not.

Well, Queenan explains it all here. The Remains of the Daz
--- I mean, Days, was the creation of a twosome named
Ishmail Merchant and James Ivory, and they have other movies out
there. One day Queenan's editors at Movieline gave him an
assignment that caused him to blanch: watch the complete works of
Merchant and Ivory. He almost made it, and his account of how he
almost made it is not only hysterical but also has the ring of
truth.

Queenan is also a stickler for realism in films. Such realism has
caused him to attempt to duplicate such events as the candle wax
foreplay scene in Body of Evidence (note to Mr. Queenan:
this actually works better, though admittedly not much better, if
someone else is controlling the wax); the
hanging-on-to-the-liferaft segment of Titanic; and the
call-for-help-through-the-vents-from-the-hospital-basement trick in
Conspiracy Theory. Naturally, none of this stuff can be
done, and we all know it. I, for one, am grateful that he did not
attempt to replicate the
occupied-baby-carriage-down-the-train-station-stairs scene in
The Untouchables.

Queenan, however, uses these events, and his attempts at recreating
them, as a vehicle to further skewer everything, and everyone, in
sight. His humor is also quite direct; his tongue is never in
cheek, because it is so sharp that he would have flesh hanging from
his jowls. And speaking of flesh hanging from jowls, how could we
forget the...well, the unforgettable essay entitled "Eat It Raw,"
which begins as a review of such animals-out-for-trouble movies as
Godzilla, Jaws and Cujo but quickly devolves
--- or evolves --- into a dissertation concerning the following
final examination question: if you were to be eaten alive, which
member of the animal kingdom would you want to do the duty?

There is so much more in CONFESSIONS OF A CINEPLEX
HECKLER... "Blarney Stoned," about ridiculous Irish movies; "Lend
Me Your Ears," which probes the trend in films of displaying body
mutilation; "And Then There Were Nuns," concerning the portrayal of
nuns in films; and --- well, so much more. Even the index is
hilarious. I guarantee you --- if CONFESSIONS OF A CINEPLEX
HECKLER is your first Queenan book, it will not be your last.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades
by Joe Queenan

  • Publication Date: February 2, 2000
  • Genres: Humor
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 0786884649
  • ISBN-13: 9780786884643