Oprah Movie Club Pick for March: The Matrix

1999 sci-fi movie

Rating: 16/20 (Abbey: 15/20)

Plot: A perpetually stoned guy is approached by a pair of clubs who each want his membership. On the one hand, he's got the snarling and toothy Snippy Republicans of America, a group who promises him sunglasses and neatly-pressed suits. On the other hand, he's got the Bald-Headed Freedumb Flighters, and they're also promising sunglasses along with cool leather outfits for when they're out and about and cheap K-Mart sweatshirts for chilling on their spaceship. The guy--Neo or Thomas Anderson depending on who you ask--is offered pills, and then finds himself in some pink goop with more holes in him than he could ever possibly need. A hot chick and some bald guys try to help him figure out if he's "the one" or if they're horribly mistaken and he's just "someone." Either way, a whole bunch of people are going to get kicked and shot in slow motion.

I ended a string of five Jesse Eisenberg movies in a row to actually watch the Oprah Movie Club pick on time for once. I have to say that I don't like this movie as much as the above kinda-high rating might indicate. I think it's a bit overrated actually. The storytelling isn't great, Keanu is distracting, and the dialogue is poorly written. It's a quintessential 90's movie though, and it's influential, my nicer way of saying that the Wachowskis should get a lot of the blame for poor Matrix imitations that came after this. Of course, a lot of my feelings about this movie are shaped by the two movies that came after this one, and that's probably not fair.

I'm going to have to watch those sequels again, too, because Abbey wants to.

Anyway, it's Movies A-Go-Go time. Here were my thoughts as I watched The Matrix for, I think, the third time.


"Juris-my-dick-tion crap."

Gosh, I hope Jimmy Stewart isn’t one of the cops chasing Trinity on the rooftops.

I think Hugo Weaving was cast based only on how he runs. That's some great form, Hugo.

What’s with the jewelry on this collection of people who come to get a mini-disc from Keanu?

Trinity knows why he sits looking at his computer all night? If the answer is “pornography,” I’m not sure she knows anything that anybody else wouldn't be able to guess.

I’d go looking for anything to get away from this awful Rob Zombie music.

Keanu’s expression to the Fed-Ex guy’s “Have a nice day” makes it seem like that was the most insulting thing a person can say to another person.

This phone call and guys with sunglasses office prank is a classic. "Hey, how can we get Anderson on the roof?" "Oh, easy. We just need to Fed-Ex him a cell phone and get some guys with sunglasses in the office."

Keanu’s monologue about how he hasn’t done anything and is a nobody is ridiculous. It's an internal monologue that should have stayed internal.

OK, it’s not just his running. Hugo Weaving's every move is perfect. Watch the way he jerks his hands out to adjust his sleeves! That's a sweet move. And that voice! He makes everything he says--”helping your landlady take out her garbage”--sound like the most important piece of information in the world. You just absorb every line of dialogue that Weaving pushes out of those weird lips of his.

There are too many guys wearing sunglasses in a room that doesn’t even have windows. I'm maybe just not remembering this trilogy very well, but there's no reason for the sunglasses in this, right? Other than product placement or because sunglasses look cool?

Agent Smith just pronounced the word “speak” like it has eight syllables.

Uh oh. Keanu now has no mouth. Terrible acting has become more of a challenge now, but if any actor can manage it, it's Keanu Reeves.

The “Gestapo crap” might not have scared him, but the insect in the bellybutton will.

“You are the one, Neo.” I think that’s a palindrome.

Oen eno eht era uoy. No, it’s not a palindrome.

“Listen to me, Coppertop.” “There’s only one rule--our way or the highway.” I am really not impressed with the writing in this thing. Why is the blonde lesbian calling him Coppertop?

That’s the biggest dildo I have ever seen, Trinity.

Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of Trinity's futuristic dildo. 

“Ah, God! Hurts!” Keanu Reeves actually said that. I turned the captions on just to verify. "Ah! God! Hurts!" is what they actually said.

The writing might be bad, but you have to give it to the Wachowski siblings for creating a unique look. I guess it has predecessors--Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, maybe Dark City--but this sci-fi noir approach still feels unique.

More sunglasses. It appears that Neo’s got a choice between people who wear lots of leather and guys in suits. Both talk really slowly, so it's going to be a tough choice.

Morpheus likes his theatrics with these pills and all. I've never even been sure what the blue pill would have done. Would he just have awakened in his apartment again?

Are connections to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz supposed to have meaning or is it just lazy writing?

Unfortunately, Neo, mirror goop is really hard to wash off.

"Ah! God! Hurts!"

That reverberating scream as we venture down Keanu's throat was such a great sound effect.

“Have you ever woken up as Michael Stipe in a pink goop with wires attached to you and wondered if you were still dreaming?”

Whee! Waterslide time! And then straight into one of those claw machines. And somebody won a Neo! All I’ve gotten is a few pieces of candy from those things.

Acupuncture. If they’re rebuilding muscles, shouldn’t he have some of those needles in his junk? I know there’s an orgy scene in one of the sequels that he’s got to prepare himself for, right?

I'm not proud of anything I've typed in the last five minutes. I probably shouldn't even post this.

Your crew has really stupid names, Morpheus. Mouse? Cypher? Tank?

You can load anything you need into the program? Maybe you should get some sides for your sunglasses, Morpheus.

It looks like they’re watching Koyaanisqatsi on their television set.

“Welcome to the desert of the real.” Oh, God. That's the worst line I've ever heard. And Fishburne delivered it with such conviction!

Why do the machines need humans exactly? Can’t they use plants? Or rabbits?

Duracel product placement. Duracel--the preferred battery for sci-fi metaphors.

You just got here and you’re already puking on the floor of Morpheus’s nice ship? Classy, Neo. Real classy.

Keanu Reeves looks a little like Sinead O’Connor.

See? Exactly alike!

You don’t have any holes, Tank or Dozer or whatever your name is? I’m sure you have a few holes.

Drunken boxing? I like how that was slipped into the learning montage.

“I know kung fu.” That line and delivery makes me laugh every single time I watch this movie.

Keanu is stealing Bruce Lee's moves. I saw that thumb to the nose, Keanu.

I’ve seen a lot of kung-fu in my life. This is not kung-fu, Keanu.

I think most of the dialogue in this movie was taken directly from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” but I haven’t heard that song in a while.

“Whoa.” There it is!

Your body can’t live without the mind? Tell that to 75% of the students I’ve had in my teaching career!

Neo’s got to be wondering when he’s going to get some leather of his own.

Squiddy is a good name for a killing machine. Of course, when you're going up against Mouse, Dozer, and Switch, I guess Squiddy will suffice.

Why is everybody whispering exactly?

“You scared the bejesus out of me.” I’ve always wondered what the etymology for “bejesus” is. [Note: I looked this up. It is not interesting enough for me to reproduce here.]

Mouse’s monologue about Tastee Wheat probably could have been cut.

I know Cream of Wheat but not Taystee Wheat. I suppose this was product placement, too. That explains why the scene was in the movie. They must have gotten a huge check from the Taystee Wheat people. 

Actually, the conversation they have about how chicken tastes and masturbatory fantasies involving women in red dresses is fairly important thematically. The whole "What it means to be human" thing.

Who’s the bearded blind guy guarding the Oracle? I’m sure there’s some sort of mythological reference here.

The "potentials" are watching Night of the Lepus for some reason while bending spoons and making blocks levitate? I can't think of any reason why that movie would be referenced in The Matrix.

Thanks, Spoon Boy. That advice about a spoon not existing is good stuff.

I'm actually going to start putting "Played Spoon Boy in The Matrix" on my resume. Nobody's going to ask about it because nobody would think somebody would lie about that.

Keanu’s playing a “not too bright” character? Whoa.

Balls to bones? Is that a real phrase?

Geez! Spoiler alert, Oracle!

I wonder if The Oracle sees lung cancer in her future?

In all seriousness, Gloria Foster's performance in this is my favorite performance in the movie. It's probably just because I like old people though. [Note: I looked her up. She wasn't in much, but was in an episode of The Cosby Show and Leonard Part 6. That makes me sad because it means that she was more than likely raped by Bill Cosby.]

Neo doesn’t get to take one of the Oracle’s pot cookies for Morpheus? That seems unfair. I bet that spoon-bending kid is going to take more than his fair share.

Why’s Joe Pantoliano using a Ghostbuster proton gun thing to kill Tank and Dozer? That seems impractical.

Cypher’s getting all pervy.

I think Plato would have loved this movie. He got off on shadows in a cave, and the special effects are a lot better here.

It would really suck if that phone call is just a prank.

"Human beings define the world through misery and suffering." I agree completely, probably because I’ve heard a whole lot of conservative talk radio.

Ahh, how sweet. These agents are finishing each other’s sentences.

Man, Moss’s eyes are incredible. I think I just fell in love.

Oh, snap! Agent Smith is dissing humanity by comparing us to viruses, cancers, and diseases. C'mon, Fishburne. Snap out of this and hit him with a well-timed "yo mama" joke.

I think I’m siding with the agents here. Humans are a real problem.

This shootout following the metal detector scene is a thing of beauty. It’s the flying debris that does it. There’s nothing like techno music and slow-motion debris to get the heart racing.

The other two agents walking in Agent Smith and asking, “What were you doing?” I think they were reminded of that scene with the man in the bear suit in The Shining.

That’s right. I’ll find any opportunity to use this picture.

Fire and a flying door...those were some gross special effects. The effects are a little dated in this movie, but they were incredible for 1999. This one was surprisingly terrible.

More slow-motion debris. And I’m not sure the machine gunning from a helicopter is the best plan, is it? How did Keanu not hit Morpheus?

Is that helicopter bleeding?

"There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." Damn, I wish somebody would have told me that when I was 18. That's good stuff.

I have to find out who plays the homeless guy. I think random homeless guys in movies is one of my favorite things.

Ah, that little percussive four seconds, like from Morricone or a samurai movie. That spaghetti western shot in the subway with Agent Smith cracking his knuckles beats the silly bullet thing or wire-fu stuff. I wish the pre-fight stuff was stretched out even more.

Broken sunglasses now. That’s bound to piss him off.

“You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability.”

That poor homeless man. If I’m understanding all this nonsense right, he just got subwayed right in the face.

Watch out! Squiddies!

“Oh, shit! That guy took my phone!” Guy. I doubt he's credited for this, but he definitely seized the day with his delivery of that line.

You needed “a little help” to know to kick through a door, Neo? And this guy’s supposed to be the one?

Watching stoned Keanu fighting Agent Smith without even looking is one of my favorite things. That's even better than when he said "Whoa" earlier.

Jumping into Agent Smith’s body has to be revenge for that insect intrusion from earlier in the movie.

Credits roll, and Abbey tells me that Spoon Boy was her favorite character.

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