Stephen Graham Jones‘s MONGRELS does all those things you want a book to do—comes with a cool cover, tells a great story, gives consideration to those small details of life that make life worth noticing, makes you want it to not end, makes you want to turn right back to the front cover and start all over again right then and there, and is about werewolves. Does it get better than that? Yeah. Because for young werewolves and their relations (those who are not, but would prefer to be werewolves), it gives hope in those ways that help you to remember on those days when it seems it somehow never could, it will get better.
Your immersion in the story is necessary, and Jones holds your paw and brings you right in. Every fucked up school moment, every scary on the street who is this older dude and what does he want moment, every sure I can eat this for lunch moment, every am I a part of this family moment jumps off pages which cease to exist about five minutes in and then you’re hopelessly part of the family too, wishing for some ungodly reason that you had a strawberry wine cooler and maybe lived in a disposable trailer. You wait for the next family history, the notes that you seem to already know that make the story work and are surprised to learn there might be some new ways to wolf out, ways you might have considered and now have license to know, and maybe even to try.
In the end, you’re left with some questions to accompany your continuous replay of the story in your head—“Will there be a sequel?” “How many times can I read this until it comes out?” “Who’s going to play them in the movie?” and a final thought: I wish I hadn’t read this yet, ‘cause I wish I was starting it right now.
In brief, this is likely one of the … crappiest movies I’ve seen in awhile. There was a funny scene in the beginning but the tidal wave of lazily-written misogynist and racist “jokes” washed it all away. It doesn’t get funny again until Wes Studi and Tatanka Means show up and deliver the best-written segments of the film. Pretty funny stuff.
I’ve never understood Seth McFarlane’s appeal, and I usually can find the funny just about anywhere. That said, this film has no idea what it is. The title is misdirective in that it has no references to Spaghetti Westerns (with the possible inclusion of the sequence where the horses get knocked over–the late Spaghettis devolved into a sort of commedia dell’arte, and scenes like that became the expected norm, along with dynamite [see 1974’s MY NAME IS NOBODY for a fine example of death by dynamite] but if you want funny, well: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDX1IHcxQWY>). At its core, it is largely a music/dance film (McFarlane has always been a sort of low-rent Busby Berkeley; I think he [and we] would be far better off if he would just commit to certain things) one supposes, but it has a bit of slapstick and violence along with a villainous Liam Neeson, who phones it all in. Sarah Silverman is occasionally funny by turns, and Giovanni Ribisi is McFarlane’s stand-in for it all. Being peed on by a sheep, well, I’m not his analyst, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The film drags, and sags along, and has an inexplicable and improbable love story to it. I still don’t see how Charlize Theron’s character got from A to B to C, nor why we need to know that she was a child bride at 9. McFarlane’s approach to this work is like most of his other efforts; we feel as if we’re watching an angry, conflicted outsider turned loose without conscience, craft, or advanced choreographic skills. Ultimately we feel cheated and in need of a sanitizer.
The best part of the film is Amanda Seyfried, who acts as if she’s genuinely pissed off to be in this horrendous production.
A Million and One Ways to Waste a Saturday Evening.