A lot of movie reviewers like to talk about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s a narrative device basically used to give the hero a quirky, cute chick to bang. Generally speaking, she doesn’t walk or talk like a normal broad. Usually she’s perfect in an almost offensive, unrealistic way. Yet, for better or worse, most films have some version of her in them. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It just is. But, while I was watching The Way, Way Back, I noticed that there’s an entire genre of film that acts exactly like Manic Pixie Dream Girls do.
The Way, Way Back stars this depressed kid as he spends the summer at his mother’s boyfriend’s beach house. He hates it. In fact, he pretty much hates everything. His mother’s boyfriend is a douche bag. His mother doesn’t really pay attention to him. And the hot chick living next door won’t give him the time of day. So he’s all, “Fuck this, I’m gonna hang out at the water park all summer.” He gets a job there and slowly starts to grow into himself.
It’s a very sweet and funny movie. The characters are vibrant. The jokes are plentiful. And the camerawork and soundtrack are perfectly indie. And that throws this film in a strange meta-world where everything is almost too manicured.
Once or twice a year Hollywood releases an independent exactly like The Way, Way Back. Juno and Little Miss Sunshine are the perfect examples. All three films are filled dysfunctional characters who all know how to speak in whip-smart dialogue. They are the Manic Pixie Dream Flick.
Because, yes, they all rock. They’re great movies that are designed to manipulate you into feeling a serene sense of euphoria that makes you laugh and grow as a human being. They’re also just enough depth for you to chew on, give you conversations the next time you want to debate shit with your friends.
Now, on one hand, I hate to be manipulated. Unless it’s my balls, you can manipulate those until the cows come home. But, on the other, these are all interesting character pieces that Hollywood is loath to make anymore. It’s very conflicting. Because, no the Manic Pixie Dream Flick doesn’t exist. Every movie has imperfections. Every movie will let you down sometimes. But these quirky independent films are a glass of cold water in a desert of fighting superheroes.