Culture Pulp‘s Mike Russell has written the following about Fox Searchlight”s The Secret Life of Bees, which opens today: It “falls into a loose, annoying subgenre of movies I’m going to call ‘Ya-Ya Sisterhood Bullshit,'” he says. “These movies tend to be based on the sorts of books Oprah likes to endorse, and they contain some or all of the following:
* A precious, self-consciously offbeat title (Fried Green Tomatoes, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood).
* A condescending Hollywood interpretation of life in the South, in which people are either abusive racists full of hate or quirky saints full of hospitality.
* Hollywood stars putting on Southern accents like they’re doing dinner-theater Tennessee Williams.
* A fetishy relationship with lovingly photographed food.
* A magazine-spread approach to agrarian labor, which is much nastier and more tedious in real life than the movie makes it out to be.
* At least one moment in which a character lays out a really obvious metaphor about Real Life while describing a cooking or farming technique or the behavior of a plant, animal, or insect.
* Tragic deaths or marriages that Teach Us Something About Ourselves.
* And, most importantly, a hug-filled affirmation of the power of sisterhood.
I could smell all this from the trailer, which is why I didn’t bother to see Bees in Toronto or attend screenings here in town. No offense.