[Movie] +1 (alternate title: A Congress of Unnecessary Tits)

(Alternate title in honor of the US Congress.)

There are a lot of tits in this movie. And no, I don’t mean the birds.

Look, the tit overload getting on my nerves might not be +1‘s fault when you come down to it. I saw it at 10PM on Sunday, after I’d already seen Don Jon on Saturday and Rush earlier on Sunday. And both of those movies? A lot of tits in those too. I mean sure, Don Jon had a good excuse because porn was actually quite integral to the plot and points the movie made. And Rush? Well, I guess at least it gave us Chris Hemsworth’s bottom as kind of a well look I know there are a lot of tits but here’s some fan service from the other end of the gender spectrum apology.

But the point is, by the time I’d gotten to Rush, I was already spending a lot of time asking myself, …are these tits really necessary? And then with +1 it just became sigh was there a four for two sale on tits or something?

And +1 was not nearly so generous to potential hetero female viewers as Rush. Look, I get it. +1 was probably trying to play off of the teen party movie tropes, which always involve a ridiculous party where everyone under the age of 24 in the immediate area is drunk, high, and fucking, and of course all the women are dressed in bikinis and flashing their tits with abandon. But by the time I got to it, that just didn’t feel like a joke any more.

It felt tired. There wasn’t enough winking to go with the tits to make it feel at all clever. Maybe if there had been a “more than just meat” moment like Don Jon gave us, it wouldn’t have felt pointless and exploitative and well gosh hopefully we’ll make our money back because we’ve shown enough skin to get young men to want to watch a small scifi film. (I doubt it works that way.)

Which is sad, because the actual plot of +1 has some pretty good moments, and the movie says some delightfully dark things about humanity.

The basic plot is that a MacGuffin from outer space does a thing to the power grid, which somehow causes our universe and what seems to be a parallel universe where the same ridiculous party is happening intersect briefly, with a slight temporal delay that shortens every time the McGuffin goes off. And people from both universes can see and interact with each other and know something is seriously wrong.

So long as you buy the MacGuffin (and you kind of have to, because the point here isn’t how it all works but rather how people react) they actually played it off as very interesting. The characters in the movie interact with their alternate selves in an array of ways, and you see both groups reacting in predictable and horrible ways to the nebulous threat of “what will happen when we all occupy the same time and space?”

But there was actually a really excellent but subtle bit of horror in there I want to talk about, one that really does play off the teen movie/teen romance tropes brilliantly. That’s going to require spoilers, so I’ll put it behind this cut.

The putative main character of the movie is a young man named David. His girlfriend is named Jill. He manages to completely fuck up their relationship and get dumped by her because he goes to her college, watches her fencing match, and then randomly kisses the girl she lost to. There was no real reason for David to do this, but he needed to be dumped by Jill and thus it happened.

But then it gets interesting. David goes to the ridiculous party to find Jill. He finds her, tries to apologize, and she shoots him down. Because he made her feel replaceable. Because she’s changed, and he hasn’t. Because she isn’t something that he can keep.

Everything she says in this argument is very important.

The first time the alternates show up, David figures out what is happening… and then immediately sets out to try to find Jill again. (By now, it’s already starting to get creepy, I think, but it’s very teen romance.) He ends up talking to Alternate Jill, and since he already knows what she’s going to say, he has a very different argument with her–and convinces her to get back together with him. It’s very clear that this is an incredibly calculating move on his part as soon as he figures out what is going on.

At the end of the movie, with original Jill having moved on and about to have sex with a different guy, David… murders her. He stabs her in the heart with a dagger. Then when the last bit of the MacGuffin occurs, only Alternate Jill remains. She and David go outside hand in hand, and then make out until the movie ends.

And thus, David replaced Jill. And forcibly changed her rather than himself. And transformed her into something he could keep.

Bonus: David had a rather romantic personal soundtrack to go with his screen time. IT WAS INTENSELY CREEPY.

So for all my complaint about the uninspired T&A of +1, the brilliant thing this movie did was show how incredibly creepy teen movie romance (or perhaps just plain old movie romance) really is. And for that, hats off.

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