Wise Up with Magnolia

In Magnolia, there is an extremely surreal moment when all of the main characters start singing together. They sing Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up.” The point of the song talks about life and how its going to continue, no matter what we do. It continues to go into talking basically about being an addict/alcoholic. It then starts to talk about preparing a list for when you’re going to die. The song then ends on the line “So just give up.” This song tied together with the constant repitition of suicide, suggest a certain cynicism of this movie.

The first verse of the song is “It’s not what you thought when you first began it. You got what you want. Now you can hardly stand it, though.” This is talking about how you can get what you want in life and still not be happy with how it ends up. Most of the characters in this movie, have lived relatively successful lives. However, most none of them are happy with the way their lives are going. The second verse, which talks about how the cure for that pain is a drink. This ties into how Linda tries to commit suicide, how Donnie drinks himself silly at the bar, and how Claudia has a serious coccaine addiction.

The final verse starts off “Prepare a list for what you need before you sign away the deed.” This is talking about preparing a will before you die. The chorus that is repeated is three lines of “It’s not going to stop” followed by a line of “‘Till you wise up.” I believe this is referring to the pain of how life can sometimes not be as perfect as you may want it, but you need to try to move on. This signifies the importance of how characters like Linda, Jimmy, and Donny try to do the right thing in the end. They own up to their responsibilities.

The last two lines are “No, it’s not going to stop, so just give up.” These lines bring up a very very important question. Does this movie encourage attempted suicide? Or does it encourage “wising up?” There’s enough examples of suicide or attempted suicide in this movie to believe that it has nothing to do with a central theme of Magnolia.


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