Saturday, August 28, 2010

Film Comparison: Gidget (1959) and An Education (2009)

"Surfing is out of this world. You can't imagine the thrill of the shooting the curl. It positively surpasses every living emotion I've ever had."

- Gidget, 1959

When Gidget fell in love with Moondoggie, it was hook, line, and sinker. She would have done anything to win her surferboy and she very nearly did anything. When Gidget and Kahuna cloistered themselves away in that beach shack, where almost anything could happen, I was heartsick. Until Kahuna snapped to his senses and sent Gidget away just as Moondoggie flew up the pathway and pounded on the door to break up the party. Gidget had a hero, two heroes, to fly to her rescue. And she was just sweet sixteen. These two men thought more of Gidget's virginity than she did herself. If Kahuna had been any less of a gentleman, and he was about as low on that pole as you could get, Gidget would have lost herself that night. Moondoggie could have taken advantage of her as well, too many times to count. But he just couldn't do it. Moondoggie would never have been able to face his reflection or his friends again, knowing he had stolen Gidget's innocence.

Which leads me to An Education. Another 16-year-old girl falls for an older man. Only this time, he's older than Moondoggie by at least 5 years. And this time, on her 17th birthday, the girl gives herself to this man in a hotel suite in Paris. Jenny is a sweet girl. Her parents are certainly very strict, but only because they wanted her to receive a decent education. That is until David came along. Because David was perfect. David was educated. David could support their daughter. It was better for Jenny to marry David because than money wouldn't have to be wasted on the furtherance of her education. And then it turns out that the perfect David was in fact a lying adulterous husband who used an underage girl for kicks. He claims to love her. He'll divorce his wife for her. But Jenny's blinders are completely and totally gone now. There is no longer room for David. But there is, however, room for her education.

You know, a lot of people find Gidget to be a very silly little movie. And maybe it is. Just maybe. But in the scheme of things, you have two men who refuse to take advantage of an innocent teenage girl who doesn't know how the world works. You have Moondoggie who wants to further his education so he can become the man he knows Gidget deserves. And you have Gidget, as smart as Jenny, only making much wiser decisions simply because she took the time to speak with her mother about her feelings and confusion. There's a sampler on Gidget's wall that states, "To be a real woman is to bring out the best in a man." That's the kicker! Right there!

Gidget learned about limitations. About saying no. All Jenny learned was that sex wasn't all it was cracked up to be, especially when you find out you've had sex with a married man. In the end Gidget emerges with her true love, Moondoggie. Five years from that movie, I just know they got married, probably immediately following Gidget's graduation from college and they made a home for themselves, occasionally visiting the beach with fond memories. They chose wisely.

Why watch a movie like An Education when it's only going to end in the two parties splitting because one was a liar? I guess I'll never understand modern Hollywood. An Education dished out what Gidget had already served up, 50 years ago and topped with such love. This newer Gidget pales in comparison.