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March 01, 2005

Popping Cancer Movie Reviews Aborted.

I thought about doing an in-depth analysis of how cancer is used in movies, and which movies use cancer in certain ways. It all seemed so interesting up in my head.

Now? Not so much.

Suffice it to say that the two movies I've seen that most accurately portray the emotions surrounding someone suffering from cancer and his/her loved ones are My Life (people don't like that this is at least 50 percent comedy (cancer grim!) - guess what? My own life is at least that, too) and Dying Young, which shows clearly what folks can go through and how it can change their actions.

The worst (and this is not a reflection on the quality of movie, but the way in which cancer is used) are movies like Beaches and Steel Magnolias. You know what I'm talking about.

These movies may be great works of dialogue and human exploration and female bonding. They get lowest marks for use of cancer, though. Cancer to these movies (and I'm sure you can think of a couple off the top of your head) is just a plot device, a way to add some cheap emotion. Might as well have your character hit by a garbage truck.

Let's see: we have a mom-daughter or best friend bonding flick, we need some free emotion... I got it! Give someone cancer! Don't SHOW it, but have it come out of nowhere and just kill 'em dead, complete with final bonding reconciliation scene.

A plot device. For all the work these studios put into research, you'd think they'd do more than add an IV and start the crying.

So at least I spared you the long version.

Posted by Dan at March 1, 2005 10:14 PM

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I couldn't agree more on your analysis. "My Life" was a good mix of comedy and reality. The chick flick usage of cancer is belittling. And, along the lines of added tragedy just for the shock/cry factor? "Stepmom" and "My Girl". Awful!

Posted by: Doug at March 2, 2005 10:43 AM

That's why I like Mel Brooks. When he needed a little emotion in Blazing Saddles, he had Gene Wilder as an alcoholic, not as some tired hired gun with cancer. He kept it real. True dat.

Posted by: Jim at March 2, 2005 12:32 PM


Yes! And the message it does send is "cancer is a dark horrible disease that comes out of nowhere and kills you and you can't do anything about it." No wonder people freak out, when the vast majority of cases these days are treatable.

Posted by: Dan at March 2, 2005 04:57 PM

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