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Homer: One adult and four children.

Clerk: Would you like to buy some Itchy and Scratchy Money?

Homer: What’s that?

Clerk: Well it’s money that’s made just for the park. It works just

like regular money, but it’s, er…”fun”.

Bart: Do it, Dad.

Homer: Well, OK, if it’s fun…let’s see, uh…I’ll take $1100 worth.

[he walks in, sees all the signs: "No I&S Money", "We Don't take Itchy and Scratchy Money", etc.]

- The Simpsons

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The following cries of insanity are not regarding credit cards, debit cards, traveler’s checks, Visa “pay-as-you-go” cards or any form of Gift Card that is of the unique nature of being worth slightly more than what the buyer paid out. Only straight-up 100% normal Gift Cards are applicable to this meandering stream of anger.

Look, I’m not Michael Moore, I’m not some anti-capitalist kook. I’m no economist, politician, political commentator, business man, or bullshit artist. I’m Joe The Plumber, but with no bias, I’m just “JOE,” er…well, Bob, but you see metaphorically I’m him without a partisan slant, because…forget it…

I LOATHE GIFT CARDS. LOATHE THEM.

In no way is any anger directed at the businesses which offer the service of gift cards, I get why they do it. Target, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Walmart all want their own Itchy and Scratchy fun money, and reasonably so. Get the consumer to buy proprietary currency for other people, call it a “GIFT” and ensure future business whilst also already having their money in hand. No, I get it, and if I owned a business I would be forced to do it, but I am not an owner, I’m a consumer, and as “one who consumes” (recently cheeseburger flavored Doritos, guh,) I am entrenched in anger and disappointment at my fellow consumers for letting this go on.

Where’s the benefit to us?

Are we so complacent as a people that we let the one and only benefit, “not being tacky,” force us to not only keep purchasing gyp cards (correction: Gift) but to, more importantly, not devote a single brain cell as to WHY this makes sense? When you give someone a gift card you are essentially saying the following:

“Thurmond, in an effort to avoid the tacky social no-no of giving you $25 cash, I’ve decided to show my appreciation for you as a friend/relative by driving to a local store, one that carries products you use/enjoy, and turned nigh-globally-usable currency backed by the Government into less-usable currency backed by a privatized company with the ability to go bankrupt. This proves I care about you because that Seinfeld episode said so. Now let’s watch American Idol on my iPlorb.”

What it comes down to is, regardless of all the negatives, useless effort, and stupidity, the “gift” of a gift card is making the slight effort to avoid giving cold, hard cash. I guess you could, barely, add on top of that the “gift” of picking a store that most likely has at least, by very good odds, one or two products your “gift recipient” might be interested in. Hence, the counterpoint is that we buy gift cards to show that we know at least something about a person’s interests in life, thus vicariously showing that we care. Simplified: IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS.

Is that really the type of thought that counts? Shouldn’t your friends and loved ones care more about the fact that you use your noggin once in a while instead of blindly following the herd. How personal is it to give someone a gift card to a Mega-Department-Store with 3 billion different items in stock? If my little murmurs do, in fact, get you to choose cash over gift cards one day and the recipient gives you grief over it, in so many mumbled words saying to your face that “there’s no thought in cash, and it doesn’t count,” then respond with some honest truth:

“Thought? Well Thurmond, I’ve honestly put more thought into that $25 cash than most people ever have buying a socially accepted monument to banality known as a gift card. A gift with literally no benefits over cash. I sat and thought, and realized that I care enough about my friend/relative to not placate his emotions with hollow gestures of his consumerist pleasures, instead I decided to give him a simple, direct lump sum of usable currency to do anything he so desires with. Let us leave the worth and value of our relationship to the bond we share and not my ability to guess which department store carries your favorite brand of VHS tapes. Now let’s go watch The Never Ending Story III on my iGroinder, Jack Black plays the villain!”

You could just forgo all of this and buy Thrumond a gift (a gun, a pony, a box filled with wet food,) but for today’s little rant we are pretending that isn’t an option. Seriously though, does that type of sentiment happen in other areas of life when making a purchase? Would this scene happen at a car dealership:

Carlyle the Car Salesman: Hello Sir, what kind of automotive dream can I sell you on this fine evening?

Thurmond: Well, Carlyle, my son is a stonemason’s apprentice and I would like to show my love for him and my care for his passion and profession by buying him an appropriate car.

Carlyle: Choosing not to dwell on the fact that you know my, rather difficult to guess, first name, I’d like to move on and ask if you have a price and style of car in mind?

Thurmond: Well, considering he’s a stonemason, I would like a car that costs as much as one of your SUVs but is completely made out of bricks.

Carlyle: Choosing not to dwell on the sheer silly nature of your request, would you also like the wheels to be made of bricks?

Thurmond: Even the Wheels my good sir!

Carlyle: Luckily, it being the year 2345, we have a molecular-matter-synthesizer in the back…the kind conveniently only available to car dealerships of the FUTURE, which of course I didn’t need to point out, since to us it is most certainly the present.

Thurmond: Well then, here’s $30,000 in Future-Money.

Carlyle: Here’s your receipt for your purchase of $30,000, which suspiciously does not contain over 300 years of inflation, again…something I have no reason to point out since to me and you it would just be the norm.

Thurmond: I’d like my Brick Car now.

Carlyle: It’s the future.

Why pay money for less versatile things only in pursuit of sentiment? Now some people have told me that they like gift cards because it gives them an excuse to go shopping, a break from the normal everyday guilt of shopping with their own cash when there are more important expenses to take care of. Your own consumerism guilt is almost an entirely different issue than the one I am addressing. All I can say is watch this and learn its message.

I’m not a smart man, and deep down I know that any frequent gift card purchaser knows just about every useless aspect of what they are buying, they’d have to right? It’s not like it takes that much brain power to compute. I mean, am I wrong? Do I have no point? Please let me know, I would love a satisfactory rebuttal to my “war” against gift cards…I’ve been waiting years for one. With that said, isn’t a gift card really, ultimately, a gift dead in spirit. A morsel of outreached disenchantment from someone trudging through motions they no longer put their time into. Perhaps I’m the minority, but I would rather receive a gift of an item I hate, than a gift of pure mandatory reluctance, such as a gift card, especially from someone I loved.

Think before you buy that Itchy and Scratchy Money. Is it fun, or is it a meaningless exercise in complacent pre-conception? As for me, you might wonder if I dabble in hypocrisy, and you’d be right. I’ll accept gift cards. I’ll take them, spend them, use them to unlock doors, clean under my fingernails, deflect a pee stream, and throw them like little Frisbees at people’s eyeballs. However, I won’t buy them. No way, no how. Still a hypocrite, right? Send complaints to: Bottom of the page.

ROBIN HOOD

A Spoiler Free Discussion and Semi-Review!!!

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The past week in my head all I’ve heard, in an extremely sarcastic voice, is the following statement:

“The new Robin Hood movie is the Gladiator version of Robin Hood.”

That’s it, that’s ALL I hear, NOTHING ELSE! Seriously though, the voice is painfully sarcastic (the fake voice in my brain, well…hopefully fake,) to the point of being illegible. For some reason, I envision a soccer-mom type person saying it at a PTL meeting. A vast ocean of undersexed women wearing mom-jeans and attempting to discuss the inside Hollywood scoop that is this one singular goofball observation as if they were on set and Ridley Scott just kept saying “Do it like we did on Gladiator…yeah, cause this is like that, LIKE GLADIATOR!” Oh soccer moms, how you have the world figured out. Here’s a snippet of my own personal hell, if I was reincarnated as a sweater-vest in suburbia:

Soccer Mom #1: Oh yeah, it’s suppose to be just like Gladiator.

Soccer Mom #2: Well, Agnes said that it has that Gladiator actor in it, the one with the muscles.

Soccer Mom #3: Oh I love him, his acting is so good.

Soccer Mom #2: it is good! Good observation, he really is good. He was good in Gladiator, so he should be good in this. He’s so good.

Soccer Mom #1: Well the people that made Gladiator, made this, so we will probably go see it as a family outing, since it’s going to be like Gladiator. The same people made it, so you know…

Soccer Mom #3: I love movies, it’s our family hobby. Last week we rented Milo & Otis, which wasn’t made by the Gladiator people.

Soccer Mom #2: Oh that is a good movie. I love those animals.

Soccer Mom #1: They make a lot of animal movies, and they make some that are good and some that aren’t as good, but I really enjoy the good ones, because they are good and when it’s good….

Bob The Sweater Vest (worn by Soccer Mom #2): You know ladies, I hate to interrupt, but your conversation is so mind numbingly useless that blood is actually starting to pool inside my body cavity.

Soccer Mom #2: Is that what that moisture on my back is?

Bob The Sweater Vest: Yes, that is my brain fluid leaking on to your skin.

Soccer Mom #3: The existence of a sentient sweater vest destroys my fragile life of 1950’s values and obtuse worldview. I’ve been living an existence of gray, in a sea of crushed dreams.

Bob The Sweater Vest: Sorry, I just needed you to stop talking about Robin Hood.

Soccer Mom #1: The one that’s like Gladiator?

Is the new Robin Hood like Gladiator? Sure, why not? It has three things in common with Gladiator: Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott, it’s a movie. That proves it. Plus the Producer Brian Grazer said it here. So, now that that’s out of the way, how is Robin Hoodiator? (Gladin Hood? Robiator Glood? Gladiatorobin Hoodin? Hoody Roby Glady Atorhood?) Honestly? Boring. Wait, but Gladiator wasn’t boring? Also, Robin Hood is a prequel story, which Gladiator isn’t a prequel…so that’s 2 things that are different. Let us not forget that Russell Crowe’s name is different in this movie, so that three differences from Gladiator. Wait let’s do the math:

3 (similarities) – 3 (differences) = O

Hence, the movies are equally not the same and as different as they are vice versa, thus yielding them as two separate entities, which are the same thing. Thank Odin for math and logic or else none of this would make sense.

Apologizing for getting that out of my system is probably too little too late, but if you are still with me I appreciate it. In all seriousness, I wasn’t being coy in the midst of my rambling; Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood is immensely boring. There’s a lot of draw backs to point out, but that is the main gripe. I’m not going to be one to compare it to every other adaptation of the material, except one, Kevin Reynolds’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (the Costner one.) Why? Well, Costner’s movie has taken its licks over the years. He had no English accent, we get it. However, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, accent or no, is a damn entertaining flick, action packed, quote filled, has a clean through-line, and it holds dynamite performances, especially from Alan Rickman. Don’t get me wrong, I love Errol Flynn, and he will always be the world’s premiere cinematic Robin Hood (although I would argue that Cary Elwes and that Disney Fox are no slouches either.) I’m in my late 20’s…Kevin Costner is my Robin Hood, that is just how it is, and I’m not going to apologize for it (however, I’ve seen Cary Elwes’s performance more times that any of them.) Now, after witnessing this generation’s Robin Hood film, I’m wondering if this uneventful ode to boredom will alleviate some of the insults thrown at Costner’s Hood for almost 20 years. Put the two side by side and I know which one I’m choosing to watch when sitting on my couch looking for a period-piece action flick, and I would guess most people would do the same after viewing both.

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Why did the movie fail on every level to be captivating? Well to use a tired review cliché, Ridley and Crowe seem to be completely on auto pilot. It felt like an uneventful evening that just passes by while you stare at your leg nervously twitching. The only spark of interest in the whole production comes from the supporting characters, mainly Robin’s three merry men, and Friar Tuck. The reason being that every one of them is played for comic relief, which in a movie as stilted as this, should just be called relief.

The advertising is especially misleading as well as the title, if you didn’t know, it’s a prequel of sorts to the well known legend of Robin Hood. Brian Helgeland’s script, with the exception of the last 3 minutes or so, does not cover any of the familiar territory we know and love about the character. This is fine. I have no qualm if that is the story you want to tell, but why name it ROBIN HOOD? Why not Robin Of The Hood, or go with the original title Nottingham? It’s too confusing, and you don’t even bother to sort out the confusion in the trailers and TV spots. The movie is not overtly a prequel to any specific property, other that the story of Robin Hood IF IT HAPPENED FOR REAL, so I guess in their defense it doesn’t need to be advertised as such, since the character of Robin Hood is in the movie. Still, confusing.

This is one of those oh-so-annoying cases where the movie isn’t really “bad,” it just hovers over that label of not qualifying as good entertainment. With the exception of pacing, Ridley Scott’s direction is very much on the ball, he just seems to have fell asleep when it came to the moments in which the movie should be ramping us up. A great example of this is the final battle, it just sort of…begins. There’s several moments of people arriving at a field/beach and they start fighting and then poof, movie over. Perhaps it’s the film’s quest to be so realistic and “historical” that drags it through the gutter, the boredom caused by a movie with no “movie moments.”

There’s been a lot of complaining about Crowe’s age in this film, he’s in his late 40s (I think) and Robin Hood should be younger and more spry apparently, especially considering this film takes place before the legend begins. Personally, it doesn’t seem like a problem to me, mainly because his age is never noted in the film itself. Michael J. Fox still looks like he’s in his 20s, some people just don’t look their age, older or younger, why is it so hard to suspend the disbelief for Crowe? Crowe does a fine job in the role…I guess. I mean he seams to just be playing Russell Crowe set to “medium” energy, which is annoying since no one will give him the crap they gave Costner, who is always at “medium” energy (and that’s why we love you Kevin, you beautiful “medium” tempered son of a gun!) If you really want to complain about the age thing, start screaming about the great Max Von Sydow, as in this movie he seems to be almost double the age, if not more, than men used to live in that time period. I wouldn’t normally say anything, but for a movie that sacrificed the enjoyable aspect of a legend for a historically accurate feel, why go and cast someone as old as Max? (The answer: He’s a great actor, one of the best living.)

I didn’t really go into detail about story or plot, because honestly, if I did, the review would be just as boring as the film (if it were ONLY subtitles!) The big question is, is it worth the ticket price? Well, how awful is your job? If it’s worse than or as bad as any of the following, save your money for something better:

- Aardvark Feces Organizer

- Assistant Assister

- Pencil Repairman

- VHS Factory Janitor

- Tote Bag Historian

- Feline Sexuality Expert

However, I’d give the flick my recommendation for people who are rich, retired, or looking for an expensive, uncomfortable place to sleep at 1pm on a Wednesday, because what else are you doing? I don’t want you just sitting there, thinking about your own mortality, eating brown sugar flavored off-brand pop tarts. That just sounds awful. Go to the movies.

I’m Bob Rose, Thanks for Reading!!! This Review brought to you by my previous word-for-word Gladiator review, which is of course, very different but almost exactly the same.

Comments:

2 Responses to “Opinion In A Haystack: Gift Cards For ROBIN HOOD”

  1. Mike Says:

    The reason being that every one of them is played for comic relief, which in a movie as stilted as this, should just be called relief.

    That was gold, sir.

    I also laughed a nut-ton. Or, in my new measurements system, a “nutton.”

  2. Bob Rose Says:

    Mike: I enjoyed that sentence very much as well. I want to tank you a nutton for reading it!

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