June 30--In a competition lamer even than it sounds, my colleague Andrew McGinn and I have been trying to outdo one another in stylishness.
The taut drama has reached the point that we're both wearing the kinds of shirts our moms made us wear on school picture day in the seventh or eighth grade.
Stepping into the role our mothers once played, our wives have bought us new clothing, forced us to try it on over our protests, then gallantly told us we look nice.
Like our mothers before them, they offered support by stubbornly ignoring two things: reality and overwhelming popular sentiment.
Fortunately, we're both well aware that we're the fashion equivalents of the warthog and meerkat in "The Lion King."
Were it not for copyright issues, we could introduce a line of clothing called Andy & Tom's Hakuna Matatas. (I'm digging in my heels about being the meerkat.)
Still, I have to give Andy credit for the stunning look he sported a couple of Fridays ago on the red carpet at Chakeres Cinema 10.
He was wearing some sports-drink bright tennies, a pair of shorts (clean), a black T-shirt (apparently clean) with some odd quip on it and a red Hawaiian shirt that probably registers a signal on Doppler radar and that he actually ordered on eBay.
(For those keeping score: The length of the eBay Hawaiian shirt prevents a definitive statement as to whether the black T-shirt was actually clean. I've used that trick.)
Dressed dully and feeling soggy on a humid day, I was there because I decided to take Andy up on his newsroom-wide invitation to go see "World War Z."
At age 58 years and 340-some days, it was my first zombie movie.
I'd passed on the whole "Twilight" vampire series because it seemed like an anorexic teen soap opera. As a 210-pound, card-carrying AARP member, I had reason for wanting to see a zombie movie. I may soon morph into one.
Having been inside the Pittsburgh studios used for filming of the early "Night of the Living Dead" movies, I did enter the theater with some zombie credentials. That's less impressive when you learn I was there to interview Mr. Rogers.
Still, I embraced zombie movie spirit from the beginning, foot-dragging over to the theater's refreshment counter and forking over cash that would have purchased four liters of diet cola in the living world for one semi-large cupful.
The cola got me through the standard three hours of previews, including some that shook the theater in a way that made me wonder whether I should get a camera pointed at me by the gastroenterologist.
Once the movie started, I made the disappointing discovery that zombies are just bad guys with bad postures and bulging eyes who convert others into bad guys like Congressmen in full campaign mode: by biting one another on the back, neck or any other exposed location.
Zombies aside, the movie had many familiar elements.
There was an early street scene like the one from Tom Cruise's version of "War of the Worlds."
Like the Edward Norton character in "Red Dragon," Brad Pitt plays an old hand in confronting evil-doers who is drawn out of retirement and reluctantly away from his family by an offer he can't refuse.
Bounding all over the world to try to deal with zombies whose mothers never taught them not to bite, he comes across a tough female Israeli soldier who, despite the loss of an arm, does admirably in hand-to-hand fighting. That's tough.
Fans of the "Alien" movies will notice scenes reminiscent of the ones in which the good guys make dangerous foray into enemy-inhabited areas of the ship in a tense effort to save the day.
The most unusual thing about "World War Z?"
The biggest laugh line is delivered by a pop can.
That's about it, aside from the obvious: Here I am about to turn 59, wearing junior high clothes and going with an equally maladjusted friend to see a movie about zombies.
I don't think even my wife can dress that up.
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