On The Couch #6: District 9

In the battle between District 9 and Avatar on which would make for a better date movie, Avatar wins hands down. Not because of the 3D, or the more attractive aliens, but because of Avatar’s lack of vomit. If I were to summarize District 9 in three words, it would be “too much vomit.” Someone seems to be upchucking every few minutes in the movie. It doesn’t matter if you’re human or alien; if you’re a character in the movie, there’s a good chance you’ll heave at some point. Even a robotic exoskeleton battle-suit throws up a couple of times. I didn’t know robots could barf!

If District 9 had a smaller special effects budget.

Once you get past all the ralphing, District 9 is a pretty cool movie. I like science fiction films that use aliens to highlight how shitty we can treat our fellow man. The aliens in District 9 are freaky looking, with a mother ship right out of Independence Day, but unlike the aliens on V, they’re not bent on world domination. They’re also not cute and cuddly like ET. They’re just trying to get by, living in their shantytown, dealing with prejudice from the local populace, getting screwed by the government and big corporations, selling outer space tech to the local Nigerian gang, and eating as much delicious cat food they can get their appendages on.

To be honest, I’m surprised there’s such a backlash against Avatar, but such a love for District 9. Both are about humans gaining an appreciation for the other side by becoming one of them. Both show that corporations care more about making money than doing the right thing. Both feature villains that are pulled from the action villain cliché book. So what is it? Does having Peter Jackson as a producer give it a certain amount of cache that James Cameron doesn’t carry any more? Did Titanic ruin Cameron for the sci-fi set?

By seeing District 9, I’m one step closer to seeing all 10 Best Picture nominations for this year’s Oscars. I’m a bit behind on that, having only seen 6 of 10. I’m behind on other things as well: behind at the theater and behind on the couch. I’m hoping to catch up on all three this week. Hurt Locker should be arriving in the mail from Netflix on Saturday, which leaves The Blind Side, Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, and A Single Man to see in the theater by Sunday evening. Can I do it?