by Mathieu Poulin
Éditions de Ta Mère, 2015
In his debut novel, Mathieu Poulin brings us an action comedy starring big-budget, explosion-happy movie director Michael Bay. What if…? Poulin asks. What if Bay were, against all odds, a misunderstood genius right up there with the likes of Plato, Sartre, Kant, Derrida, Heidegger, Hegel, Voltaire, Marx, Nietzsche, et al.? What if his films were more than just Baydiocre, high-grossing box-office successes held in low esteem by most right-minded movie critics? What if Bad Boys was a film about decolonization? What if The Rock was about failing to be recognized by one’s peers? If Armageddon was about a post-human future and the mysteries of meaning? And Pearl Harbor was an homage to a country’s history, yes, but more than that a reflection on the freedom afforded an artist when undertaking to transform fact into fiction? Poulin takes his hypothesis and runs with it.
The result is a satire-ridden medley of fact and fiction, an epic inside joke for those up on their ’90s pop culture and philosophy 101.
Scorned by the academic community for his seemingly trite productions and esteemed by the general public for all the wrong reasons, Bay continuously tries and fails to get the finer meaning of his films across, with no help from the Studio, which seems to sabotage his films at every turn. He strives to understand and to be understood, but finds more questions than answers. Who are his real parents? Why did they abandon him? Who keeps following him? Did someone intentionally try to poison him, aware of his deathly allergy to sesame? And most importantly: What is meaning?
Bay sets out in hot pursuit of the truth. The plot thickens, Bayhem ensues: Hummer versus Ferrari in epic car chase number one, the kidnapping of a sexy love interest, men in togas, espionage, power ballads, and, of course, an insane number of explosions.
Rest assured, the leading man comes out unscathed. He finds answers, meets new friends, tries to be less of a jerk and, driven by a new sense of purpose, he gets back to doing what he does best: making movies with a powerful message and enjoying life, whether that be by eating dehydrated sashimi and chatting with Neil deGrasse Tyson in a spacecraft, or discussing the deeper meaning of “I Would Do Anything for Love” with Meat Loaf.
“I’m not asking for much,” Bay notes. “I want to be recognized for my intelligence. And I want to be immortal.”
Review by Aleshia Jensen