Friday, June 4, 2010

Attack the Gas Station!

When I'm not watching movies, at random, I do other things. One of those other things is play videogames. Currently, I'm playing Saint's Row 2, because it was cheap and is mostly fun, apart from a couple really terrible late-game missions. The most interesting thing about the game is that the characters are clearly awful people who murder other awful people and generally do terrible things. Yet, you root for them, because they're funny, even if they're mostly psychotic insane people. Why is this relevant? Well, Attack the Gas Station has a similar dynamic. You're alternately horrified and amused by the antics of the main characters, the overall plot, and the entire film.

In film, four no good punk kids (Sung-jae Lee, Oh-seong Yu, Seong-jin Kang, Ji-tae Yu) decide to rob a gas station. Then, they decide to rob it again, because they have nothing better to do. When there's no money, they take the gas station over and hold the crew hostages, while randomly kidnapping customers if they annoy them. In the process everyone learns life lessons, everyone finds their hidden talents, and at the end of the day everyone is a better, more well adjusted person better able to confront the challenges life brings.

Self improvement through acts of violence and hostage taking is a decidedly odd premise, especially for a film aimed directly at no good punk kids. The film is filmed and presented as wacky fun, with interludes of the four heroes doing some nasty, unpleasant stuff to their charges because they can and they're asses. A different director and it could easily be about four people who terrorize this station.

But they're funny, so you like them. You especially like them after they force cops to actually pay for gas, and learn that their lives are a source of perpetual disappointment. You hope these abused little puppies stop chewing on slippers and blossom into the beautiful golden retrievers they were meant to be. Then you realize, holy crap, they're beating on people for no reason and are almost trying to induce Stockholm Syndrome in their charges. Wow, they're jerks, why do I like them so much?

Someone with less faith in the intelligence of their average person might argue the entire premise is dangerous - seriously, everyone's lives are dramatically improved, except for the two people locked in a trunk and then never seen again, no word on them - but I'm suspecting everyone realizes that this is just dumb fun. Same deal with Saint's Row 2, it's just letting you into the world of terrible, yet funny people you would never want to meet in real life. It's interesting how by making you laugh, sins can be forgiven.

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