CATEGORIES Fandom, Cinematical
As 2009 approaches its halfway mark, it's a good time to reflect on the cinematic themes we've seen represented so far. Given the current economy, it's no surprise that banks and financiers have been villainized in movies such as Drag Me to Hell and The International. Perhaps we're tired of babies, too, as infants have been harmed or endangered for comic effect in Dance Flick and The Hangover. But the most prevalent theme in all of Hollywood this year? Vomit. Chunky, steamy vomit.

I don't know if so many movies with puke scenes have ever appeared in one year. And I'm not talking about where a character is seen discreetly from behind, kneeling over a toilet and ralphing, with no barf actually visible. That sort of thing is relatively common. No, I'm talking about scenes where we actually see the vomit as it's spewed from the person's mouth, graphically and in color. That's a lot rarer. Yet so far in 2009 it's happened in Adventureland, The Haunting in Connecticut, Drag Me to Hell, Observe and Report, The Hangover, Year One, and My Sister's Keeper. And wow, the first four of those seven all played at South By Southwest. Fixated much, SXSW programmers??

The causes of the chundering vary from film to film. In My Sister's Keeper and The Haunting in Connecticut, it's cancer-stricken teenagers suffering from nausea. Year One has its heroes afflicted with motion sickness (eating the poop didn't bother them at all), and I believe that's what makes an amusement-park customer hurl in Adventureland, too. Drag Me to Hell has a woman (possibly a hallucination) vomiting maggots on somebody. In the other movies, it's good ol' drunkenness or hungoverness.

Why the uptick in upchuck? With the raucous comedies, particularly those that seek to shock their audiences (I'm looking at you, Observe and Report!), explicit spewing is a logical step. It makes sense to see it in a movie set at an amusement park, too. What surprises me are the two where it's for medical reasons, especially My Sister's Keeper (opening Friday), which is otherwise a standard weepy family-in-crisis melodrama. There's a lot more barf in that movie than you'd expect. I mean, in the audience, sure. But on the screen?