Skip to main content

Just make love to that wall, pervert!


Seinfeld
2.10: The Statue

The Premise

Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.

Observational

A dazzling return to form, and one of the best episodes of the season. It also, as Michael Richards has noted, gives us a Kramer in full creative flow, so setting the tone for many of his later exploits. This should be no surprise, as the script comes from the more offbeat sensibilities of Larry Charles; there’s usually something slightly cartoonish about his scripts, which may be why they’re often my favourites.

Something we’ve seen little of so far are memorable supporting characters. Most have been other halves of the week, but here we have not one but two and both are very funny. Michael D. Conway’s Ray is an effusive English grad student so theatrical that you know something must be wrong somewhere. And sure enough, we see him return to his girlfriend’s apartment, grumbling and kicking his heels; the façade has fallen away.

Rava (Nurit Koppel) is a ravishing misery with a somewhere-in-the-vicinity Finnish accent and a commentary that can kill a convivial atmosphere stone dead. Koppel was apparently an ex of Richard Lewis, which caused a bit of tension on set with Jerry (as he had naturally been on Lewis’ side through the break-up). Both Koppel and Conway spark off the regulars and Charles seems charged by the creative possibilities; you could imagine an episode of double the length.

The best of Rava’s interplay comes with Elaine, although Jerry gets in the occasional glancing blow at her less than sunny outlook (“So what do you, write children’s books?”) Inevitably Rava and Elaine discuss the brouhaha over Ray, and inevitably they take sides. Tom Cherones stages this sequence with consummate skill, as their argument rages unseen when they enter a lift. Rava, smoking away, is causing distress to the fellow passengers and Elaine is never one to bite her tongue, even if it costs her the much-wanted editing role.

Rava: You are jealous of our love and you want to destroy us.
Elaine: Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?

Jerry, very into his cleanliness, is incredibly impressed by Ray’s work (“He Windexed the little peephole!”), although his upbeat manner gives him pause (“Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?”). While it’s Jerry who initiates the quest for justice against Ray, the full impassioned force comes form George and Kramer.

George, who has been studying new words to introduce into conversation (“It’s anathema”) has a vested interest; the statue (which Kramer discovered in a box of items left to Jerry by his grandfather) is identical to one he broke as a child (while pretending it was a microphone). By this point we have a clear picture of his not-yet-introduced parents (“My mother’s making her roast potatoes”), and we can all too easily see the likelihood of the sight of Frank Costanza’s naked frame scarring George for life.

But it’s George’s bout of indignant rage, directed at Ray in the diner, that really scores. As with the lift scene, the staging is superlative. George sits with his back to Jerry, who is failing to extract a confession from Ray. To each response from Ray George mutters invective, while dismissing Jerry’s attempts (“Did you call me a wuss?”) Finally, he gets up to confront Ray and his turning worm is both impressive and amusing. Until Ray starts to get angry, at which point he wilts.

The very finest scene comes right at the end, however. Kramer came away with most of Jerry’s grandfather’s items (mainly clothes, including a pair of knee socks and a hat like Joe Friday’s from Dragnet). But after his squabble with George over possession of the statue (resolved by a game of Inka-Dink, in which Jerry bends the rules so George wins) he is given to sporadic suggestions that justice should be served (“Let’s go get him”). With only three or four minutes left, Ray answers the door and finds Kramer posing as a police detective and demanding to search the premises (he accuses Ray of grand larceny, possession of stolen goods and “murder!”). Richards is a tour de force, a whirlwind of energy and limbs as he pushes Ray into the corner (“Just make love to that wall, pervert!”) and makes off with the statue.

I’m not sure Kramer ever actually ends up making things better for anyone, as well meaning as he is. So it’s no surprise that the final scene sees George show eternal gratitude, only for Cosmo (not yet known by that name) to pat him on the back. Which sends the statue flying out of George’s hands to fall to the floor, shattering.

Quotable

George: My parents looked at me like I smashed the Ten Commandments. It was the single most damaging experience of my life. Aside from seeing my father naked.

Ray: Greetings. I beg your forgiveness. My tardiness was unavoidable.

Jerry: Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?

Jerry: Kramer, it’s Jerry. Jerry. Jerry. From next door. Jerry Seinfeld. Never mind where I am. Just dip the bread in the batter and put it in the pan. Okay, bye. My mother. She forgot how to make French Toast. You know hoe mothers are.
Rava: My mother left us when I was six years old. All seven of us. We never heard from her again. I hope she’s rotting in an alley somewhere.
Jerry: My mother’s down in Florida.

Ray: How about dinner?
Jerry: No, I can’t eat dinner. Dinner’s for suckers.

George: Who is this? I’m the judge and the jury, pal. An the verdict is, “Guilty!”

Ray: You are starting to make me angry.
George: Well… That was bound to happen eventually.

Elaine: Did you go out last night?
Rava: No, we made love on the floor like two animals. Ray is insatiable.

Elaine: There are degrees of coincidence.
Rava: No, there are only coincidences. (Turning to lift passengers) Are there big coincidences and small coincidences? Well? Well?

Man: Will you put that cigarette out?
Rava: Maybe I put it out in your face.

George: This experience has changed me. It has made me more bitter. More cynical. More jaded.
Jerry: Really?
George: Sure, why not?

Kramer: Just make love to that wall, pervert!

Ray: I think you’ve got me confused with someone else.
Kramer: Is your name Ray?
Ray: Yes.
Kramer: Yeah, you’re the punk I’m looking for.

Ray: Are you a cop?
Kramer: Yeah, I’m a cop. I’m a damn good cop. I’m a cop!

Verdict:


Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

I can’t be the worst. What about that hotdog one?

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) (SPOILERS) It would have been a merciful release, had the title card “ The End ”, flashing on screen a little before the ninety-minute mark, not been a false dawn. True, I would still have been unable to swab the bloody dildoes fight from my mind, but at least Everything Everywhere All at Once would have been short. Indeed, by the actual end I was put in mind of a line spoken by co-star James Wong in one of his most indelible roles: “ Now this really pisses me off to no end ”. Or to put it another way, Everything Everywhere All at Once rubbed me up the wrong which way quite a lot of most of the time.

We’ve got the best ball and chain in the world. Your ass.

Wedlock (1991) (SPOILERS) The futuristic prison movie seemed possessed of a particular cachet around this time, quite possibly sparked by the grisly possibilities of hi-tech disincentives to escape. On that front, HBO TV movie Wedlock more than delivers its FX money shot. Elsewhere, it’s less sure of itself, rather fumbling when it exchanges prison tropes for fugitives-on-the-run ones.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

He doesn’t want to lead you. He just wants you to follow.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) (SPOILERS) The general failing of the prequel concept is a fairly self-evident one; it’s spurred by the desire to cash in, rather than to tell a story. This is why so few prequels, in any form, are worth the viewer/reader/listener’s time, in and of themselves. At best, they tend to be something of a well-rehearsed fait accompli. In the movie medium, even when there is material that withstands closer inspection (the Star Wars prequels; The Hobbit , if you like), the execution ends up botched. With Fantastic Beasts , there was never a whiff of such lofty purpose, and each subsequent sequel to the first prequel has succeeded only in drawing attention to its prosaic function: keeping franchise flag flying, even at half-mast. Hence Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore , belatedly arriving after twice the envisaged gap between instalments and course-correcting none of the problems present in The Crimes of Grindelwald .

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.