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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Joe Mazzulla watches ‘The Town’ four times a week. I did too, and it broke me

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla loves the town Like, he really, really loves the town. Hey loves the town much that he watches the town four times a week to put him in a “Boston mindset.”

I’m sorry that I’ve said the town so much already, but I can’t stop thinking about it the town. I decided to watch the town four times this week like Joe Mazzulla, and frankly it’s entirely too many times to watch the town.

This wasn’t just a quest, but a descent into Boston-based madness. I’d drop my daughter off at kindergarten, come home, make myself a double espresso, and watch the town. I did this four days in a row. My wife would leave for work laughing at me, saying “you’re watching the town again?” Friends began to check on my deteriorating mental health, because I began to talk about the town an alarming amount even when I wasn’t actively watching the town

I had three simple rules:

  1. I HAD to watch the town four times. I refused to watch it once and then lie about seeing it three more.
  2. I wasn’t allowed to look at my phone while watching the town. I had to be consumed by it.
  3. Every time I watched the town I had to notice at least one new thing.

Here’s what I learned.

First viewing of the town

I remember seeing this movie when it came out. I think I even saw it in the theatre. I’m a sucker for a good gangster/heist movie, and on paper this one ticks a lot of boxes. You’ve got Affleck and Jeremy Renner in the primary bank robber roles, John Hamm as the FBI agent trying to track them down, and Blake Lively as Renner’s younger sister who is in love with Affleck.

For the uninitiated, the town is a 2010 movie about a group of Boston bank robbers that was written, directed, and stared in by Ben Affleck. It’s Affleck at his most Affleck, marrying his ability to talk with a thick Boston accent with his love of being able wear a Red Sox hat in one scene and a Bruins jacket in another. It narrowly misses out of the triple-threat by having a slow-motion shot of a rifle round traveling through a Dunkin cup, but perhaps they were saving that for a sequel.

There is nothing functionally wrong with the town, but there is also literally nothing memorable about this movie outside of one scene the gang dress up like nuns to rob an armored truck. There’s a lot of dress up in this movie, and I presume there’s a prequel on the cutting room floor where their first heist was of a Spirit Halloween to get their plethora of robbing costumes.

Second viewing of the town

Ben Affleck makes this weird choice where whenever he isn’t talking he’s standing there slack-jawed while jutting out his bottom jaw. I didn’t notice it until the second viewing, and it’s a choice. I was going to get a nice screen grab for you, but I couldn’t handle booting up the town again — so here’s a crude shot.

Please forgive my terrible cable management. I need to work on that.

Despite being career criminals, nobody in this movie can shoot worth a shit. Jeremy Renner runs around at the close of the movie firing a solid 400 rounds out of a TEC-9 and misses everyone. At one point he’s only like three yards away from John Hamm and still misses him while spraying 20 rounds.

Speaking of Hamm, he really doesn’t seem into being in the town. He’s probably the best part of this movie, and he still plays his role like Don Draper decided to join the FBI.

Third viewing of the town

It takes 14 minutes and 17 seconds from the first shot of this film to Affleck having sex with Blake Lively. That’s incredible pace and efficiency considering there’s an entire prolonged bank heist to start the movie.

For a group of hardened criminals, Jem (Renner) has made some really bad life choices. Not the bank robbing part, but getting a tattoo of the Notre Dame mascot on the back of his neck. That is the most obviously identifiable mark in history, and it’s crazy difficult to hide. What the hell was this dude thinking?

Granted, he’s not supposed to be the sharpest tool in the shed — but this man lives to make sure everyone knows he’s a bank robber. I’d think the first rule of bank robbery is not to let people know you’re the one committing bank robberies.

Also, 2010 feels like a lifetime away when Affleck and Renner bark at the bank customers “put your Blackberries in the bowl” and everyone in the damn place has a Blackberry.

Fourth viewing of the town

I’m so tired of watching the town. This movie isn’t nearly good enough to watch four times in a week, let alone four times every week like Mazzulla does. Even if you want to get a strong Boston crime vibe as some sort of hype, why wouldn’t you watch The Departed or the Boondock Saints. Why would you pick the town

Anyway, so I’ve been stuck on this moment for a few viewings now and really need to get it off my chest. When the dust settles the FBI is desperately trying to arrest Affleck and convinces Claire to invite him over to they can nab him.

On their first date she mentions that sunny days always remind her of death, because it was a clear day when her brother died in a car accident. Which, okay… maybe get some therapy for that or at least move to Seattle or something.

Anyway, she plays along with the FBI in her apartment. Then, in a final crisis of conscious she says, “wait… I really want to see you. It would be just like one of my SUNNY DAYS,” with serious emphasis. Hamm is supposed to be an accomplished investigator, but at no time does he say “well, shit… she 100% just passed him a code.”

There’s about as much nuance to this as a bag of Boston Baked Beans, and nobody in the room thinks for a second that it’s weird their honeypot is sending such a clear and obvious message?

Affleck skips down and makes it down to Florida, which despite being investigated. by the FEDERAL Bureau of Investigations apparently has no reach to find a man implicated in numerous bank robberies and dozens of murders? Well, he made it to Florida… no way to get him now. Dude didn’t skip to a non-extradition country or even make it into Mexico. He bought a damn house on the Everglades, and suddenly he’s untouchable.

NOBODY should watch the town four times in a week

I did this for the sake of research. I hoped that perhaps some cosmic truth would reveal itself when I saw it four times, like uncovering the ark of the covenant. Instead I’m just angry I spent approximately nine hours this week watching the town.

Joe Mazzulla’s taste in movies, his lack of time management, and his judgment should all be called into question for doing this. Heat into 5.

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