New York Times opinion writer and bestselling author Lindy West was once the in-house movie critic for Seattle’s alternative newsweekly The Stranger, where she covered film with brutal honesty and giddy irreverence. In Shit, Actually, Lindy West returns to those roots, re-examining beloved and iconic movies from the past 40 years with an eye toward the big questions of our time: Is Twilight the horniest movie in history? Why do the zebras in The Lion King trust Mufasa–who is a lion–to look out for their best interests? Why did anyone bother making any more movies after The Fugitive achieved perfection? And, my god, why don’t any of the women in Love, Actually ever fucking talk?!
From Forrest Gump, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Bad Boys II, to Face/Off, Top Gun, and The Notebook, West combines her razor-sharp wit and trademark humor with a genuine adoration for nostalgic trash to shed new critical light on some of our defining cultural touchstones–the stories we’ve long been telling ourselves about who we are.
At once outrageously funny and piercingly incisive, Shit, Actually reminds us to pause and ask, “How does this movie hold up?”, all while teaching us how to laugh at the things we love without ever letting them or ourselves off the hook. Shit, Actually is a love letter and a break-up note all in one: to the films that shaped us and the ones that ruined us. More often than not, West finds, they’re one and the same.
This is the first book I have ever read by Lindy West. I should undoubtedly read both Shrill and The Witches are Coming, but in this corona-ridden dystopia we are currently living in, fighting my reading slump rather ineffectually since depression keeps kicking my ass, I was in need of something easy and fun to read. Snarky movie reviews seemed absolutely perfect, and I’m happy to report that I finished this book in less than 48 hours, which is almost a record for me this year. Sad, but true.
Had I watched all the movies that West covers? No, but the vast majority, because I am a huge fan of big trashy, blockbuster cinema. I’m upset that she doesn’t cover gems like Pacific Rim in her book because that is a glorious movie spectacle. Nevertheless, I did get her opinions on The Fugitive (which between West’s write-up in this book, and John Mulaney’s stand-up, I don’t really feel I need to ever watch – I’ve gotten all that is best about it already), The Rock (I’m never going to apologise for how much I love this film), Twilight (frankly better than it should be, shame the director didn’t get to continue the series), Face/Off (so dumb) and a number of other great and not-so-great movies.
Full review here.