When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a pilot, and then someday being promoted to airplane. Arms out, mouth motoring, zipping through the trailer park narrowly missing hedges and dumpsters, Nazis and Jap Zeros on my tail. As I got older, my dreams evolved and became more sophisticated. I still hoped to be a pilot, but one who sat in a captain’s chair while big-boobied stewardesses brought me peanuts and showed me their big boobs. Then they said they wanted to have sex with me, so I’d take out my two-foot long penis and we would have a lot of sex and they would say it was the best sexing ever and that I was really good at the sex. So good that I got promoted to airplane, and then I humped nasty helicopters with big boobs.
In other words, I always imagined being a pilot was exciting. After seeing Sully, director Clint Eastwood’s Metamucil commercial of a movie, I know better. Holy horseshit is this thing dull. Only 96 minutes long and it felt like it had more sawdust filler than a taxidermy horse.
Sully is about Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the man who safely landed a distressed jet on the Hudson, saving the lives of all the passengers. The man is a hero, no doubt, but probably not one worthy of a movie. I mean, this guy’s so nondescript that his nickname’s just a shortened version of his last name. Nobody calls him “Screwy Louie,” or “Scary Larry,” or “Slope Forehead Ted,” or “Jose the Horrible” or “Maurice the Murderer.” Those are dudes I want to see a movie about. This thing’s about a man given a nickname out of convenience for those with no time for extra syllables. “Fuck it, I’m not wasting two more motions of my mouth on this guy.”
Tom Hanks plays Sullenberger as an everyman, a guy who probably buys underwear in bulk at Costco and relies on Consumer Reports to tell him which deodorant to buy. Actually, I’m surprised Eastwood didn’t show him doing this. Sully is a pilot with four decades of experience and, this movie wants us to believe, financial trouble at home. Bullshit. If a dude can’t make ends meet on a veteran pilot’s salary there’s a way more interesting story buried in here: He’s addicted to drugs, sex and/or gambling. Any of which sound more interesting than the truth. That is that the real Sullenberger probably wasn’t really in financial trouble. We’re just seeing Hollywood trying really fucking hard to find something to make this dullard relatable to all of us who are hooked on fentanyl, prostitutes and dog racing. In other words, the movie-going public.
The story takes place after the jet’s water landing, when Sullenberger is celebrated nationally, but internally questions whether he did the right thing. So does the National Transportation Safety Board and the insurance company who’s stuck with the tab for a totaled jetliner. That is their job.
There is an interesting theme here, and that is that Sullenberger wants to believe he did the right thing, but even he doesn’t know for sure. What do you tell people who keep calling you a hero when you don’t know if it’s true? God damn, I hope to some day be put in that position. But pretty much the times I wonder if I am hero, like the time I dove into a dumpster to salavage a bunch of last month’s Juggs and Barely Legals smothered in expired salad dressing and broken glass, everyone else called me an idiot. Still a close call to me, but only because of the infected cuts I got.
Sully spends some time allowing Sullenberger to wrestle with himself, but it spends more time on other crap, like cartoonishly evil NTSB members who are the characterizations of a crazy old man who writes a lot of letters to editors about evil government bloat. It’s unnecessary and silly, a desperate and misplaced Hollywood attempt to create villains for a story because their formula requires them.
The movie also revels in mundane details. Eastwood loves moments he must think define humanity but actually go right past what makes it interesting and into the stupid minutiae we go to the movies for. What makes movies interesting is what we all do differently, because we already all know the little shit. The movie spends more time on average people getting onto a plane, finding their seats, and storing their luggage in overhead bins than you would boarding a real plane. It’s all done in an orderly fashion. I think this is meant to humanize the people who survived the crash, but it goes past humanizing and straight to memorializing.
The movie forgets one thing: airplanes and airports are painful reminders that humanity is a cesspool of self-absorbed assholes. There’s a fuckwad trying to assert his alpha status by taking your armrest, some prick cranking on the seat in front of you in the hope he’ll find an extra five degrees of recline that aren’t there, a pissy flight attendant selling eight-dollar cans of Pringles, a woman jabbing you with her elbows while she works on a spreadsheet, a hairy fat dude in shorts so short his balls nearly spill out, and he’s rubbing against your leg while he reads a Robert Heinlein novel and whistles through his nose. It’s always an entire planeful of me-first assholes who push, shove and wrestle their way to be first on and first off.
All of this stretches a story that could be told in three sentences into 96 minutes. The most interesting aspect of the movie is the replays of the plane hurtling through the sky toward New York and the water. Well, they are interesting the first few times, but it gets replayed as simulation and as nightmare until it’s clear even the key event is part of the sawdust inside this dead horse.
Brave to Chesley Sullenberger, now let’s all let him get back to browsing the Land’s End catalog in peace. Two Fingers for Sully, a movie that will dash any youngsters desire to someday hump a helicopter.