Advertisements

Tag Archive: Fat Farm Orson Scott Card


Review by C.J. Bunce

Everyone likes Paul Rudd, right?  Rudd is the center of a new comedy-drama on Netflix that began this weekend, Living with Yourself And his fans won’t be disappointed.  The same struggling character reaching for success–but just missing it–in shows like Ant-Man, Anchorman, and Clueless is back, but this time his character is actually characters, plural, and, like Ant-Man, this show has a sci-fi twist.

In fact you could spend the 3.5 hours of the eight episode, half-hour series spotting all the sci-fi tropes picked up in the script by Timothy Greenberg (The Daily Show).  It all begins with a twist on Orson Scott Card’s short story Fat Farm (found in Isaac Asimov, George R.R. Martin, and Martin Greenberg’s collection, The Science Fiction Weight Loss Book).  In that story, a person goes to a secret clinic to lose weight, not realizing he is actually being cloned, and the “real” him shuffled off to a work farm for the rest of his life, while “new him” returns to his life slim and trim not knowing the difference.  In Living with Yourself, it’s Rudd’s character Miles who is unhappy not with his weight but his underachievement and overall dissatisfaction with himself.  A co-worker puts him onto a pricey spa that can solve his problems, which turns out to be a third-rate, pop-up cloning shop, where, unknown to clients, they get replaced with like-new clones of themselves and their old selves get suffocated and buried in the woods.  The cloning tech isn’t quite so refined so Miles experiences something like Total Recall’s schizoid embolism–instead of killing Miles’ older self, he wakes up in a shallow grave and must confront his new, cloned self.

This all plays out like another Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Twins, with old Miles left to forge ahead with his stale, unrefined DNA and new Miles “cleaned” and ready to conquer the world.  But this is just in the first half hour.  If you stay around for all eight episodes (and Rudd is fun playing two characters, so why not?), expect to catch scenes straight out of Multiplicity, Gattaca, Rachel Rising, The Last Jedi, Harry Potter, even Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and more.  Rudd’s performance in dual roles is done so much in the actor’s laid back style that the double duty goes unnoticed, seamlessly, until the two halves confront each other in the season finale.  It’s not that kind of complex, award-winning visual effects work we saw from Tatiana Maslany as a dozen-plus characters in Orphan Black, but it doesn’t need to be.  The series hits on the classic internal struggle of man versus self, but this is first and foremost a comedy.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Selfless movie poster

As serious dramatic actors go, Ben Kingsley has branched out like no other from mainstream roles.  In addition to the biopic that won him the Academy Award for best actor, Gandhi, Kingsley doesn’t seem to flinch from unique fictional characters in the strangest of situations.  Take for instance his roles in Sneakers, Dave, Species, A Sound of Thunder, Hugo, Iron Man 3, and Ender’s Game.  Kingsley’s next role takes him into the stuff of classic sci-fi.

Self/less asks the question:  What would you do to live forever?  Orson Scott Card’s science fiction short story “Fat Farm,” where overweight people can swap out their larger self for a slimmer version of themselves, and plenty of other classic science fiction stories and movies, from Star Trek to Doctor Who to Avatar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Skeleton Key (even comedies like Freaky Friday and Prelude to a Kiss) have answered the question with swapping one body for another.

RoboCop, especially the remake, looked at how much you can take away from yourself and still be “you”.  In 1986’s Who is Julia?, Mare Winningham and Jameson Parker starred in a movie about a woman whose brain is transplanted into another woman’s body who was pronounced dead in an accident.  In Self/less, a wealthy man dying of cancer, played by Kingsley, undergoes a medical procedure where he ends up in the much younger body of Ryan Reynolds.

Ben Kingsley Selfless

Check out the trailer for Self/less:

Continue reading