A few months ago I was watching Gorillas in the Mist and a goddamned bee flew into my room. I had to spend the better part of the next hour trying to convince the bee that it would be happier outside. I also had to keep the cat from getting herself stung in the face, because she thought the bee was a toy. The whole experience definitely colored my perception of the movie, which is, after all, trying to argue that wild animals need to be protected, because they are precious and amazing. Horseshit!
(Which reminds me: fuck horses, too.)
A similar situation happened when I watched Turner and Hooch. Most days the cat wants to go outside in the hour immediately before dawn, probably because that's a good hour for hunting. On Christmas morning I let her out in the middle of the night, and then I was woken up at seven a.m. when she made a racket on the windowsill. Immediately after I let her in I realized something wasn't quite right in my room.
Sure enough, I soon discovered the cat was playing with a (mostly) dead bird under my bed. I tried to get her away from the bird so I could toss it back outside, but she was so far under the bed that it was basically impossible. I took a walk, and when I came back she’d eaten everything except a few of the feathers. I moved the bed to vacuum up the remains – which is a real pain in the ass because the bed’s frame is pretty rickety – but I did get it cleaned up. I know there are worse ways to wake up in the morning, but I was not happy about having to clean my room before coffee on my day off.
Once I felt my room had been sufficiently de-corpsed I sat down to watch a movie that I had queued up the night before - a movie I was only watching because it was disappearing from Netflix instant in the immediate future. Perhaps I should have picked a new movie, because it turns out that I was in a weird head space to watch a movie about a man who is saddled with taking care of a terrible dog.
Turner and Hooch stars Tom Hanks as Turner, an obsessive neat freak who is a police inspector in a sleepy beach town. When an old man who lives by the docks is murdered by some smugglers Turner is forced to temporarily adopt the man’s dog, because he thinks the dog might be able to point out the man’s killer. Turner immediately regrets this decision, because Hooch is basically a dog from hell, constantly slobbering and chewing on everything in sight.
Now, on a different day Hooch’s hijinks might not have gotten under my skin quite as much. After all, this movie was made at the height of Hanks’ comedy run, around the time of Big and the Burbs, and Hanks had this type of role down so well he could probably have done it in his sleep. His exasperated yelling sells the hijinks without feeling forced – he takes whats basically a sitcom premise and makes it believable. But as this terrible dog was eating everything in Turner’s pantry, and ripping up his sofas, and destroying his record player, I kept looking over at my cat and thinking: man, pets are the fucking worst.
Of course, I’m in a completely different boat than Turner. It’s a lot cheaper to go back to sleep than it is to buy a new stereo system, and my dumb feline drools a lot less. But then again, she has fewer plusses, too. I doubt she’ll ever help solve a murder case. (Unless the murder case is “who offed this bird whose body is suddenly under my bed?” At which point she will solve the case simply by being in the room.) Also, she has yet to bring a cute veterinarian into my life as a love interest. (She should really get on that.)
As with any buddy comedy, as Turner and Hooch headed towards it's conclusion the two leads started to understand each other better. Hooch got a little more used to living indoors, and Turner gave up on ever owning records or nice shoes again. Lessons were definitely learned: Hooch learned he can always get his way if he's stubborn enough, and Turner learned to be less of a neat freak. Meanwhile, in the audience I learned that it could be worse: it's easier to vacuum the carpet than it is to vacuum the inside of a chewed up leather shoe.
Maybe watching a truly terrible animal misbehave softened my annoyance at my (mostly tolerable) cat; maybe spending two hours watching a comedy brightened my day; maybe all I needed to was to kill some time so I could forget about what was basically a minor mess.... Maybe Hooch's slow transformation into a decent pet gave me some hope for my dumb cat. Whatever the reason, by the time that Turner and Hooch was over I had kind of gotten into a groove with it, and I was over this bird brouhaha. Turner and Hooch isn't a classic, but it's fine. And of course, having to de-corpse my room at 7 a.m. isn't the best, either, but it was much easier to resolve than the Gorilla-Bee incident, so that's fine, too.
That said: I am putting the cat on blast: if she ever destroys my stereo system SHE IS DEAD TO ME.