Like most married couples, my husband Patrick and I try to communicate honestly. Sometimes I think we may be a little too honest with each other, frankly. Because when I'm feeling emotionally needy and ask him to tell me what it is that he loves about me, he says, "You get me into movies for free."
To be fair, our mutual love of movies is one of the things that brought us together. And he wasn't just supportive when I became a film critic, he was thrilled. Now he gets to be a film-critic-by-proxy. He goes to the early screenings with me, then seeks out other critics afterwards and eagerly offers his opinions. It doesn't matter how many times I ask him not to do this, his enthusiasm and his desire to share is stronger than my need to appear cool. It's like asking a dog to stop jumping up on the sofa.
So Patrick was especially pleased when I told him that I intended to write a regular feature about our combined experience watching films. Now his observations would be shared with a wide audience via the internet. His happiness wasn't even dampened when I told him that the first one would be 10,000 B.C., which is about the Mesolithic period and was directed by the same guy who directed Independence Day. If anything, that made it even more appealing.
"Actually, since it's my column, I'm Joel," I told him. "You're Tom Servo. And it's in print. And we're not to going to make jokes about the entire movie. So really, it's nothing like that at all."
10,000 B.C. is a movie about extraordinarily articulate prehistoric people who have fabulous dental work and live somewhere that enables them to walk from craggy mountains to deserts to equatorial jungles to snowy mountaintops and then back to the desert again over the course of a couple of days. We tried, short of pulling out an atlas, to figure out just where it was set, but we never could. We did, however, appreciate the multicultural aspect of both the location and the tribe itself.
"Why do all the cavemen have different accents?" I asked. "And how come some of them look kind of Arabic, while most of them are just Caucasians with deep tans?"
"I'm impressed with the way the main character becomes lighter-skinned and more European as the movie progresses," Patrick said. "It's like he's evolving before our very eyes."
The main caveman, whose name we could never remember so we called him Dreadlock Guy, is played by a hunky slab o' meat named Steven Strait. His tribe of mammoth-hunting fur-wearers is attacked by a far more advanced crew of swarthy bad guys on horseback, a bunch of them are kidnapped, and Dreadlock Guy goes on a quest to save them.
"Wait a minute," Patrick said, pausing the movie. "The bad guys are wearing woven cloth. And they have swords. And bows and arrows. And spears with metal tips. They didn't have that stuff in 10,000 B.C.! The Bronze Age isn't for another 7,000 years!"
"Stop pausing the movie," I said. "You're just making it last longer."
Dreadlock Guy leads his ragtag band of remaining tribesmen across the aforementioned improbable geography, engaging the help of other tribes as he goes. Some of them are African, some of them are Asiatic, some wear bamboo on their faces. None of this helps us figure out where, exactly this movie is set.
One tribe tells them that the bad guys have taken their friends on "giant red birds" that fly over the mountains. These birds turn out to be huge ships with red sails ("And rigging!" Patrick shouted. "And the slaves are in metal cages -- with rivets! What the hell is going on here?!") that take them up a long, winding river. Naturally, Dreadlock Guy decides to cut across the desert in pursuit, because following along the waterway would have made too much sense.
Finally, he comes to where the bad guys have taken his people. They are using them as slaves, because they're building pyramids.
"PYRAMIDS?!" Patrick shouted. "They're using slaves and mammoths to build pyramids? In 10,000 B.C." He shook his head sadly. "At this point they might as well be using cranes and John Deere tractors, it would make just as much sense."
It occurs to me that I've failed to note that much of the impetus for Dreadock Guy's quest is that the bad guys also snatched Evolet (Camilla Belle), the blue-eyed, well-groomed cavegirl who Dreadlock Guy loves. She's very pretty and bursting with robust good health which, like everything else in this movie, is pretty damn silly.
"She's in her early twenties," Patrick pointed out. "She should have given birth three or four times by now. In 10,000 B.C. she'd be middle-aged. Or dead."
Anyway, Dreadlock Guy leads a fight to save his people with a plan that involves stampeding the mammoths that are being used to help build the pyramids, and he has to save Evolet from a bad guy who looks suspiciously like Sid Haig and who bought her from one of the slavers with a jingly bag of coins.
"Ummm, did he just pay with metal money? When was metal money first used?" I asked. "God, I hate a movie that makes me do research to prove how stupid it is." (For the record, the first metal coins were used in 1,000 B.C. In China. Thank you, internet!)
It's difficult for me to imagine how such a dumb, wrong-headed, historically ludicrous movie made it off the drawing board and onto the big screen, but Patrick found an explanation. Sort of.
"So you're saying that 10,000 B.C. is actually a sci-fi movie?" I asked.
"And they just edited out the spaceships," he said. "Either that, or Roland Emmerich is a moron."
Dawn Taylor makes her husband watch Adam Sandler movies, too, because she hates to suffer alone.