Hounddog (2007)

hounddog-posterI’m not really sure what compelled me to put a Dakota Fanning coming-of-age drama at the top of my Netflix queue, but it happened. After Hounddog sat around the apartment for a month or two I decided it was about time to watch the damn thing.

Lewellen (Fanning) is a 12-year-old girl living in the deep south who sings Elvis songs to escape the physical and emotional abuse she suffers in just about every facet of her life. Her dad (David Morse) is a total jerk, until he is zapped by lightning while working out in the fields, at which point he becomes a total idiot. Piper Laurie plays Lewellen’s grandma, and pretty much reprises her role from Carrie as a strict, bible-thumping freakazoid who blames all bad things on all the sinners.

All Lewellen really wants is to see Elvis when he rolls into town. Her friend Buddy

That crazy Piper Laurie's at it again.

That crazy Piper Laurie’s at it again.

says he can get her a ticket to the show. Excited beyond belief, Lewellen will do just about anything for the ticket, including taking off her clothes and thrusting like Elvis at the demands of a different young boy who ultimately ends up raping her. After the rape, Lewellen is of course in total despair, and if it weren’t for the magical southern black man Charles, she never would have learned to channel her pain into singing some real blues.

This movie wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as terrible as the 15% rating

The amazing Charles: sychologist, medical doctor, musician, and life coach all in one package.

The amazing Charles: psychologist, medical doctor, musician, and life coach all in one package.

on Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe. Q and I both agree there was an awful lot about this movie that screamed Oscar bait, and that really helped kill the movie for me. But the worst offense is probably Charles’ character – a poor black man who takes care of all the white folks and seems to be the only sensible human being in the whole film. Racism is, of course, a terrible thing, but I get the sense that characters like Charles are some sort of attempt to apologize for the years of slavery and oppression America has forced minorities to endure. It’s almost as if Deborah Kampmeier is telling her audience: If only we’d listened to the black folks all this time, maybe we’d be better off, get it, America? Things are rarely, pardon the pun, so black and white. Charles, in his infinite wisdom, draws out Lewellen’s pain

Lewellen, acting cool.

Lewellen, acting cool.

and anger and tells her that she can finally sing the blues, the real blues, the way black folks do, not the way white folks like Elvis do, because she’s now experienced true suffering and oppression. While there is most probably some truth to this idea, the execution here is pretty sad and pathetic; the whole thing is kind of a mess, really.

Another issue I have is the glossy sheen all over the film. These people are always running around in the mud, working around the farm, jumping in the creek, and yet they are never, ever dirty. Sure, their hair is a little ratty, but everyone looks so damn airbrushed. What’s up with that? Bah.


2 Responses to “Hounddog (2007)”

  1. 1 ladyfaceladyface
    June 18, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I plan on seeing this movie NEVER.

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