' Cinema Romantico: Dissecting Kylie Minogue's Cameo in San Andreas

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Dissecting Kylie Minogue's Cameo in San Andreas

Astute readers of Cinema Romantico may have noted that in our review of “San Andreas” we failed to mention the appearance of our beloved pop siren Kylie Minogue, whose role we had speculated over, much to the chagrin of loyal & frustrated followers, for months and months. That’s because we didn’t want our devotion to Ms. Minogue to cloud our judgment of the film’s merit, which we ultimately found considerable. Still, we felt our loyal & frustrated followers were owed some insight into Ms. Minogue’s place in the “San Andreas” universe.

This is not Kylie Minogue in San Andreas. But it is Kylie Minogue. Isn't she the greatest?
We considered a deep dive into her, roughly, 65 second appearance, but Joey Nolfi at Serving Cinema has already got you covered in this “Heartfelt Account of Kylie Minogue’s ‘San Andreas’ Role.” I encourage you to read it, if for no other reason than Mr. Nolfi calls her “Universal Empress Minogue” which, like, hell yeah. But he also gets to the heart of the role. As Susan Riddick, the sister of Ioan Gruffurd’s character, who essentially passes for the film’s human version of a villain, she is lunching with Carla Gugino’s Emma, who is on the verge of marrying Gruffurd, maybe. Of Kylie's character Nolfi writes that it’s a “one-note characterization that sees her insulting Emma’s deceased daughter (‘didn’t your daughter, like, drown or something?’) with the air of one thousand yachts and elevendy-million dollar bills fanning the flames of her verbal breath of bitchery, all while physically channeling the aura of Deborah Norville circa 1998.” Not inaccurate. In fact, Wesley Morris at Grantland also employs bitch to describe the turn – as in, “an icy bitch played by Kylie Minogue, who’s having a good time giving a terrible performance.” Terrible? Well yeah, but in that “Nurse Betty” kind of way, like she’s Rachel Dennis in “Central Park West.” It’s to Kylie’s credit that she makes an impression when she’s barely there.

Because it’s Andrew O’Hehir writing at Salon who’s really got Universal Empress Minogue figured. He writes: “…and I’m sorry we don’t see more of Kylie Minogue in a teensy, bitchy cameo that threatens to eat the whole movie.” Yes. It does. It suggests a whole different film. It suggests a film where a Jackie Q-ish diva is made to ride along in the back of Bill & Jo’s pickup truck in “Twister” rather than Jami Gertz. And O.M.F.G. I want to see that movie more than “The Force Awakens.” “San Andreas” really only gets tongue-in-cheeky in Paul Giamatti's performance and Kylie could have drowned the entire movie in tongue-in-cheek grown-up mean girl salad dressing. Yet, Brad Peyton understood that wasn’t the movie he wanted to make. He wanted a lean, mean delivery device for action adrenaline. To create it, he needed to offload Susan Riddick whose frigidly hoity-toity vixen simply would have overburdened the nimble narrative. And so, Susan, panicked, shoves Emma aside and runs like a hell for a door, screaming “Get Outta My Way!”, that she apparently falls out of because when Emma opens that same door moments later, well, it looks out at where the rest of the building used to be. “(It’s) nothing more than a cameo that’ll likely end in pain and misery for those who love her,” Nolfi writes.

I see his point. I mean, I walked to the theater blasting “Light Years” through my headphones to get myself pumped up. And then, as soon I saw her, she was gone, and my heart drooped. Enjoying the film probably helped my recovery but there’s something to be said for her not tagging along and potentially turning into, say, Lucky Larry. That would have been grotesque. Instead, we could revel in her instantaneous ice princess gone through the door and wonder, “Who was she? Where did she come from?” And imagine a prequel spin-off series, Real Housewives of San Francisco, starring Susan Riddick.

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