' ' Cinema Romantico: Pitch Meeting: Goldfish

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Pitch Meeting: Goldfish

You have probably seen the story, the one about goldfish being deposited into lakes and growing to sizes seemingly impossible for small specimens mostly known, perhaps, for being starter pets of children who generally forget they even have them in the first place. If people are being cautioned against this, I thought, then perhaps it is time for a cinematic cautionary tale, a la the 1980 horror movie “Alligator”, which memorably warned us against flushing alligators down the toilet. And so. 

I thought about young Raina Shockley in Judson, Ohio improbably winning a rigged carnival game where she somehow manages to land a ping pong ball in a fish tank, winning the goldfish swimming therein. A burgeoning environmentalist, however, and not wanting to keep a goldfish cooped up in one of those scrawny tanks, she decides of her own volition to release the itty bitty freshwater fish into nearby Buttle Lake, bidding it a fond farewell, to live its best fish life. A sweet moment, however, grows ominous as the camera pulls back to reveal the nuclear reactors bellowing smoke just behind the quietly lapping water.

Flash ahead a couple decades and Raina (Abbi Jacobson), having grown up to be an ecologist and having not been to her hometown in years due to Reasons To Be Written Later, is reluctantly summoned back home by a Fish & Wildlife Service Agent Gary Hadwin (Burl Moesley) after strange doings out at Buttle Lake. On what seems like a routine excursion, Gary is eaten alive by a goldfish the size of a 1980s Buick Station Wagon, which follows Raina ashore, improbably able to breathe on land (“like the Northern Lodgepole,” observes Raina), and flaps away.

Raina and Judson Sheriff Joe Wheed (Michael Shannon) are then forced to pursue this nuclear waste-fueled goldfish as it flaps from lake to lake, wreaking havoc along the way, seemingly bent on reaching Lake Erie, and seeming to recognize Raina. “That’s impossible,” says Sheriff Wheed. “Everyone knows goldfish have no memory.” “That’s a fallacy,” explains Raina. “They have memory up to five months. And if its memory was nuclear powered, there’s no telling how far it might go back.”

Their pursuit, meanwhile, is complicated by the unwelcome presence of both Howard Faberghanz (Kevin Corrigan), president of the local Nuclear Power company who claims he is just here to make amends to the community but secretly wants to sell the goldfish to a Detroit fishmonger for a hefty price, and Stan Jervis (Bruce McGill), calling himself the best big game hunter in the Midwest until it becomes clear he just works the gun counter at the local Cabela’s.

No comments: