The real star of 'American Sniper' is a creepy robot baby
We recently brought a new editor-in-chief in here at Hitfix, and when we were talking in our first meeting, I mentioned the idea of doing more short-form blogging. He responded immediately, and I gave him examples of things that were worth discussing , but that aren't really enough for a longer article.
One of those examples was something I meant to write up the next day, and I forgot completely until "American Sniper" showed up in the stack of screeners I've got here at the house. I immediately put the movie on and then fast-forwarded through the film to find the scene that totally took me out of the movie when I saw it at AFI Fest.
There are restrictions on the use of babies on film sets, as there should be, but even knowing how fast Eastwood likes to shoot, I am amazed at one scene between Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, in which they have a conversation about his desire to go back to active duty while they each take turns holding their baby.
I couldn't tell you much about their conversation, but that's because I get so distracted by the baby, which is obviously a dummy that has mechanics to work the hands and to move the head. It's supposed to be subtle. When you first see it, Sienna Miller's holding the baby and "nursing," and the baby's hand that is more prominent moves a few times. There's something wholly artificial about it, and it drew my eye immediately.
As a result, the entire rest of the scene, that's all I can look at. It's so obvious, and neither one of them looks like they are comfortable holding it. The weight's all wrong, and it shows from the way they have to try to liven it up with their own body language. Cooper in particular looks like he's just plain never held a baby. I took a couple of quick screen caps...
... and even when it's not moving, there's something wrong about the shape of that thing and the way it sits in Cooper's hands.
What cracks me up is that Clint Eastwood is notoriously fast when he's shooting a film, and rarely goes past a handful of takes on things. I wonder if this is just a case of him signing off on Cooper and Miller and not really worrying about whether or not his creepy robot baby is flagrantly fake or not. I'm glad to hear from other people that they had the same response, their eye drawn to the same thing, because when I started laughing, sitting there in the dark at the AFI Fest screening, I felt like I was the only one who was reacting to it, and I felt bad about it.
Obviously, this doesn't mean anything about "American Sniper" as a whole. I had plenty of other problems with it. But now that you've read this, I want to hear from you after you see the movie, because I'll bet it jumps out at you and cracks you up as well. Sooooooo creepy.