Dave White
The Giver Review

Dave's Rating:


Give fascism a chance.

In the combo-pack Utopian/Dystopian Future, when Hologram Meryl Streep runs everything, could you kids all just step aside and let her handle the messy details? She's got the whole world in her hands, and she's working really hard to keep things nice around here. So if you could calm your inner Ally Sheedy and stop bleating about how your heart dies when you grow up for just ten damn seconds, maybe she could teach you why her way is better.

It's the future, see (one based on the 1993 YA novel of the same name by author Lois Lowry), and life is pretty great. (Note to reader: here come all the dumb spoilers, so if you don't want this dumb movie's dumb secrets spilled then quit your dumb reading starting now.) No war, no crime, no hate, no hunger, no pollution, no cruelty. Everybody lives in cool houses, everybody gets fed, everybody's protected and happy. Ok, sure, the whole planet is in black and white and nobody falls in love or kisses or dances, but there is calm and order, a Logan's Run-style Carousel-like ceremony for the geriatrics, a crazy perma-death sleep injection for genetically inferior babies, and it all happens without an annual Purge. Nobody said there weren't going to be trade-offs.

Into this peaceful grayness comes a Special Boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites). He sees in color and is capable of more, so much more. During his proto-Divergent job assignment ceremony (this book came first, so now we know who the copiers are), Hologram Streep selects him to be the Receiver of Memory. That's because this is a world in which all memories of the planet's ugly, war-making past have been erased via daily injections of brain-cleaning serum. In order to preserve a baseline guide for how to govern the blank populace, the task of keeping the memories falls to one person. Right now it's The Dude (Jeff Bridges). It was going to be Taylor Swift but that sort of fell through. Now it's going to be Jonas. He learns about Christmas and about war. This sends him over the edge. Literally. There is a literal edge and a literal wall of memories that must not be penetrated by Jonas's teen energies or else everyone is going to start remembering how to have sex and kill each other.

Question: why give any teenager that much control over anything? They can barely parallel park, much less be responsible for the weight of Man's Inhumanity to Man. This is, of course, Streep's big mistake, one she and the rest of the orderly mass of smock-attired humans will have to pay for when the kids all decide it's time for a Love Revolution. Everybody knows that in the world of gifted, intuitive, rebellious YA protagonists, you don't entrust the kid with anything that could get out of hand. All it ever results in are trilogies with the last film split into two parts and a huge war for the sake of justice/love/food/makeouts. It's not worth it. Everybody should just calm down and let Hologram Streep do her job. Dang.


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