When the Cannes Film Festival takes place May 15 to May 26, one of the films selected to be shown, in competition from the 939 films submitted, is a new romantic-comedy from Paul Thomas Anderson (of Boogie nights fame) titled Punch-Drunk Love. We wrote about this film early in 2001 when it was in production and now that the world will see its first preview of the film (public release is not until Fall 2002), we’ll be anxious to see how it fares. Why? Among the narrow sub-plots of this movie is the concept that Adam Sandler, playing the lead role, becomes a mileage junkie and portrays a “pudding guy” approach to earning enough frequent flyer miles to see his newfound love again — in Hawaii. Given the seat capacity of awards to that fair state, we’ll have to all wait to see how these miles make their film debut (in the original concept, there was actually a re-enactment of the infamous LatinPass Run that had many frequent flyers shuttling through Latin/South America hoping to earn the million-mile bonus).
But honestly, frequent flyer programs have played important roles in many other movies. One of the best mileage junkie movies we’ve ever seen was the film, “Duets” with Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, set in the world of, would you believe, karaoke hustling? Though we wouldn’t generally recommend this movie, there’s a running gag about a character who is constantly staggering up to various hotel desks and proudly presenting his frequent-flyer card with some 800,000 miles on it — only to be informed that there are no mileage rooms available for several weeks, or the offer ended yesterday, or some such fine-print excuse. Although he finally swings a free trip home on TWA, it’s a fairly damning comment on what Hollywood thinks the world at large thinks of frequent flyer programs.