“Say what?!?” You might find yourself saying as you realize I’m about to compare and contrast Blue Jasmine and The World’s End.
“Dudebro, you beautiful Son of a Bitch,” You’ll say. “Those films have nothing in common. One is a character study set around the financial collapse of rich white people and the other is a fast paced action comedy with aliens. Clearly, there’s nothing similar about the two.”
To which I’d say, “Shut your fucking mouth, you dirty whore. I can compare any fucking film I want at any fucking time. And, you know what, you smell bad. And I hate your lazy eye. And the two films have incredibly similar character arcs. So. Yeah. Shut it.”
Now, Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s new flick. It’s getting a lot of buzz because he’s Woody Allen and the acting in the film is damn sharp. It’s all about this rich bitch named Jasmine who becomes poor because she married an asshole on Wall street. So then she basically drinks the rest of the film and feels sorry for herself.
The World’s End, conversely, is Edgar Write’s new opus. And it, unlike Blue Jasmine, lives up to the hype. This one is about Drunken Shawn of the Dead feeling sorry for himself because he’s not as cool as he used to be. So he rounds up his buddies and they all go out drinking with some aliens. The aliens get pissed. People end up dead. It’s pretty damn fun.
At first blush, sure, you’re right. There’s nothing alike about these films. Until you watch the main characters. Jasmine is a drunken asshole who dreams of better times. She whines. Drinks. Whines some more. Before finally acting like a crazy person. Drunken Shawn of the Dead is also a drunken asshole. He also dreams of betters times. He even whines before drinking. Then drinks some more.
They are, on a basic level, blueprints for an unlikable lead, characters we’re not especially supposed to root for, but enjoy none the less. Tony Soprano is a great example of this character-type. That guy was a fucking cunt. Yet, for some reason, mostly because of his complex portrayal, we ended up liking the guy despite his failings. I love unlikable characters. They’re fun and engaging as they are frustrating. But, at the end of the day, Blue Jasmine fails where The World’s Ends soars. Why?
Simple, Blue Jasmine never once makes Jasmine a complex or layer person. She’s just this sad, angry, worthless woman who never does anything to gain our sympathy. Every malady that befalls her is, not only of her own choice, but completely deserved.
Drunken Shawn of the Dead is just as big of a dick. But there’s a soft center to him that makes him worth cheering for. He’s like the fuck up friend you had in high school. He’s gone nowhere but he could, and you’d like to see him succeed. That’s exactly how The World’s End becomes more compelling than Blue Jasmine.
Because, again, I’m not saying all characters need to be likable. I’m arguing that, if there isn’t enough complexity to the unlikable, it’s gonna be a tough slog getting the audience to enjoy your film. It’s strange too because Woody Allen has made tons of interesting unlikable characters. This time, however, he kind of phoned it in and made his lead a fucking black hole of sympathy.
The World’s End: A-
Blue Jasmine: C+