I’m behind the times on this one, but I’m still trying to work my way through the 2012 movies I missed. And there wasn’t a movie all year quite like Savages.
Holy shit, what a wonderful, terrible film. The whole thing looks beautiful, from the shiny southern California landscape to the glossy actors to Oliver Stone’s polished camera moves. And its two-plus hours fly by in a rush of breezy, superficial entertainment.
But every word of this screenplay is a stinking, rotting animal carcass, piled on top of one another in a mountain of nauseous garbage death. Co-written by Stone, Shane Salerno (who helped write Armageddon!) and Don Winslow (who wrote the novel on which the film is based), Savages alternates between accepting that it’s cheap, crass pulp fiction, and aiming for some sort of wildly misplaced depth. Blake Lively narrates! And Riggins is there!
You need to watch this movie. You really do. You see, Lively has two boyfriends — Chon and Ben — and they all live together and grow pot and sell pot and are blissful until a mean old cartel comes and tries to put some muscle to them. But before you see it, take this little quiz and see if you can figure out which of these are actual quotes from Savages and which are made up:
1. “Some stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This story has none of those….and all of them at once. This isn’t a story about drugs or guns or good and evil. At its heart, it’s a story about that rarest of teenage fantasies: threesomes”
2. “It started here in paradise, Laguna Beach, where they say God parked himself on the seventh day, but they towed him on the eighth.”
3. “My real name’s Ophelia, but when I found out she was the bipolar bitch in Hamlet, I cut it down to just O.”
4. “O? What is O short for?”
“It’s for ‘Oh shit, I really fucked up now.’ Now get your hands off me.”
5. “What else is there to do in California but sell weed? I guess you could make movies, but we’re not degenerates.”
6. “This is the best cannabis in the world.”
7. “Every successful business has an origin. Ben went to Berkeley and double majored in business and botany. He takes 99 percent of the violence out of the business. The other one percent? Well, that’s where Chon comes in.”
8. “Herb, grass, pot…call it whatever you want. Ours will get you higher than theirs.”
9. “What’s it like to be in love with two people at once? It’s like getting to be awake all day, embracing the warmth of the sun, and then not needing to sleep at night so you can bathe in the moonlight.”
10. “Some people call us hedonists. Ben likes to say that we’re believers in Dionysus.”
11. “He’s always trying to fuck the war out of himself. I had orgasms. He had wargasms.”
12. “Ben’s philosophy is basically Buddhist. Chon’s philosophy is basically Baddest.”
13. “Ben makes love. Chon fucks.”
14. “Ben plays Words With Friends. Chon plays Halo.”
15. “Ben is an expert at oral sex. Chon doesn’t kiss on the mouth.”
16. “Ben feeds my soul. Chon feeds my pussy.”
17. “Ben listens to Phish. Chon says music is for the weak.”
18. “Just cause I’m telling you this story doesn’t mean doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end of it. It’s that kind of story, where things just got so out of control.”
19. “Ben says that when we die, our souls finally achieve perfection. I know what you’re thinking…yes, he was high when he said it.”
20. “I looked up the definition of savage. It means cruel, crippled, regressed back to a primal state of being. One day, maybe, we’ll be back. For now, we live like savages… beautiful savages.”
21. “Some people call us savages because of how we make a living. But aren’t we all savages, when you come right down to it?”
Answer Key: The real quotes are 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 18, 20.
Hat tip to Arriaga Pizzoza for the idea for this post.