Suspension of Disbelief

In my life I have had two wildly…”appropriate” moviegoing experiences.

The first was when, in college, I trekked to the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis to see the Coen brothers’ classic Minnesota film Fargo. If you’ve seen the film, you know that only about 1% of it takes place in Fargo, North Dakota—and about 96% of the rest of it happens in the Twin Cities or “up Brainerd way,” a small Minnesota city notable mainly for its fairly large Paul Bunyan statue (which was faked in the film). Interesting sidenote: the King of Clubs, set for the opening “Fargo” scene, is actually a bar in Minneapolis.

The theater was packed for that showing, and when Jerry Lundegaard’s wife first appeared chopping dinner in the kitchen with her trademark Minnesota sing-song accent, everyone in the theater LOST IT. And let me be the first to attest: they lost it with their own Minnesotan accents in full effect. “Ooooh miiieeeee Gaaaaahhd,” they moaned through their laugher. “Sheeee taaaahks sooo funneeee!” Beyond that, there were so many little things to enjoy, such as the Embers restaurant off 394, where Jerry meets with his father-in-law. Real things. Our things.

It was nearly as approrpriate, then, when I saw Transamerica in Scottsdale recently. When Bree arrives in “Phoenix” in the film as part of her cross-country sojourn with troubled boy Toby, she drops in on some old friends: well-to-do overly-tanned senior citizens in track suits! The theater laughed—but let me tell you, that showing of Transamerica was like God’s waiting room itself.

These self-reflexive movie experiences are so much more enjoyable than other films, I think…and it’s nice to hear people laugh, even if it is at themselves.

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