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2001: A Space Oddity

by Rebecca on 2008-08-27

Thereʼs a line from Napoleon Dynamite that I absolutely love. Napoleon and Kip watch a home video of Uncle Rico pretending to throw a football, and after itʼs over, Napoleon says “That was pretty much the worst movie ever made.” Iʼve used in jest several times, but last night, I had the chance to say it and mean every bit of it.

William and I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at Austinʼs Paramount Theater last night. The Paramount shows old movies during the summer time, and Iʼve seen some great classics there like Casablanca, Charade, and A Hard Dayʼs Night. We even went on our first date to the Paramount to see The Sound of Music. So, we were looking forward to seeing the 22nd greatest American movie ever made, one that was hailed as the greatest sci-fi movie ever and the inspiration for countless filmmakers.

After over two and a half hours of grunting apes, spinning planets and whirling space stations, an evil supercomputer, 60ʼs-style outfits, one tripped out astronaut, and more Strauss waltzes than you could ever wish for, weʼd had enough.

Hereʼs my synopsis of what happens. And Iʼm telling it just like it is. So, if it doesnʼt make sense, thatʼs Stanley Kubrickʼs fault, not mine.

Act One, the Dawn of Mankind: A bunch of apelike humans eat dirt and rocks and fight with another clan of other apelike humans over a watering hole the size of a small puddle. One day, they wake up and find a black monolith in front of their watering hole. One of them touches it. The next day, he figures out that he can use a bone as a hammer or club. The next time they meet their rival clan, he kills one of them with the bone.

Lots of “Blue Danube Waltz” being played to orbiting planets and space stations

Act Two, Mission to the Moon: A scientist is sent to the moon to investigate some mysterious deaths with other scientists. A lot of flight attendants in suits with Peter Pan collars, Velcro shoes, and pillbox hats cater to his every need until he arrives at the moon. A team of scientists goes to the site and sees a black monolith similar to the one from the first part of the movie. As theyʼre getting ready to take their picture in front of it like any good tourist would, it emits a high pitched squealing sound and they all die.

At this point, the soundtrack had probably switched over to “Also sprach Zarathustra”

Act Three, Mission to Jupiter and Beyond: Two scientists are traveling to Jupiter, though we donʼt really know why. They start to suspect that their computer HAL 9000 is trying to kill them. We find out that HAL can read lips. HAL kills one of the scientists during a spacewalk, and the other one spends the next 30 minutes trying to dismantle HAL. After he destroys HAL, the astronaut has what appears to be a major acid trip and goes whirling through psychedelic space. (It kind of looks like the part in Spaceballs when they go to ludicrous speed, except like 200 times longer. Sigh.) After heʼs tripped through space for about 15 minutes, the astronaut lands in a house. He looks in a mirror and finds out that heʼs aged. Then he sees an old man sitting at a table eating breakfast and realizes that the old man is himself. The scene shifts to the old manʼs perspective. The old man keeps eating breakfast, knocks his glass on the floor, and notices an even older man (also himself) sleeping in the bed in that room. The scene shifts to the even older manʼs perspective. He looks up and sees a black stone monolith at the end of his bed and tries to reach for it. The final scene of the movie shows a fetus orbiting around the earth to the “Blue Danube Waltz.”

OK, what? What the heck just happened there? Did that make any sense? Like I said, pretty much the worst movie ever made.

Personally, I think the Simpsons did it better.