Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Book

Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas on IMDb

Plot Overview

College News

waste basketbound bookA young man Bickford Shmeckler (Patrick Fugit) suffers psychotic episodes after a family tragedy and spends six weeks in an asylum. One month after his release his dad sends him off to college, checking in on him from time to time. He's sharing a house with some other students who refer to him as “the whack job who lives in the base­ment.” When he exits his lair to investigate a party upstairs that's disturbing his thoughts, Sarah Witt (Olivia Wilde) a lovely klepto­maniac goes down­stairs and liberates his book. It is a mish­mash of scientific principles apt to drive a rational scientist around the bend who focuses his reality on them. Sarah's boy­friend Trent (Reid Scott) trashes it, but it some­how gets found, copied and circulated garnishing an ever-expanding fan base. This notoriety is not conducive to mental health.

The words of Agur son of Jakeh

apple and booksThe recovery of his precious book is played out in a clever metaphor using a some­what familiar proverb: (Prov. 25:11) “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Bound in a silvery cover it's being held for Anonymous behind the counter at Golden Apple Comics where he has to prove owner­ship before they'll release it. A fitting proof is the torn first page he has whose rip fits the original nicely. Less familiar is the thirtieth chapter of Proverbs, which can serve as a template for this plot:

dartheld Bible(Prov. 30:1) “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal.” The cool sayings of Bick­ford correspond to “the words of Agur,” he being “the son of Jakeh,” even as Bick­ford is the son of his father Sheldon Shmeckler. “Even the prophecy” elevates his words to scripture as we find them so recorded, just as one of the co-eds at the party takes Bick­ford's loss of what he calls “The Book” for, “some­one stealing his Bible.” Agur speaking “unto Ithiel and Ucal,” corresponds to the sympathetic ears Bick­ford finds in his two new friends (severely delusional, schizo­phrenic) Spaceman (Matthew Lillard) and (closet gay) Ralph (Fran Kranz.) Bick­ford, more­over, acquires a girl­friend but there's none mentioned for Agur.

soldier(Prov. 30:2-3) “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the under­standing of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.” Agur is setting his hearers' minds at ease saying he's not any great one, neither humanly nor divinely speaking. Bick­ford stumbling upon the toga party has “not the under­standing of a man,” either. It has to be explained to him that a toga party means dressing in togas (“Duh!”) And he concedes it does sound “a tad pretentious” to refer to his writings originally as “The Book” as if it's some kind of religious text, which it's not.

Madonna with childAs for his book's “unified theory of everything,” he'll ultimately concede, “There is no theory of every­thing and every­one who thinks he needs to know every g.d. thing is a dipsh!t.” Agur like­wise asks some rhetorical questions to put his hearers in their place, that they don't have an in with the Creator of the Universe, which would have given them privileged info. (Prov. 30:4) “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?” The movie spells this out graphically. Only Spaceman takes a trip to the heavens & back to extirpate the trans­dimensional aliens from his brain, nobody would dare follow him. We don't pass around the bong with God who “hath gathered the wind in his fists.” We don't extend our toga party to include God “who hath bound the waters in a garment” though we see klepto-girl lift a water from the fridge. We have only a partial familiarity with other cultures as in a toga party and a luau party, not the breadth of God “who hath established all the ends of the earth.” Ever since the angel announced to Mary the birth of Christ, we do, however, know the name of the Son of God, but back in Agur's day not so much “what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?” When Bick­ford mentions to Sarah that, “Zeus had a headache and out popped Athena, god­dess of wisdom,” Sarah replied enthus­ias­tically, “I used to know mythology!” She loved that stuff but has forgotten much of it. Agur's people didn't know the Messiah's name in the first place.

(Prov. 30:5-6) “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Bick­ford likewise has some good material that should be left as-is. It includes, Descartes, “I think, there­fore I am,” Gödel, “This sentence does not exist,” Shakespeare, “To toga or not to toga,” and Tolkien's Gandalf, “You shall not pass.” Whatever. We're not privy to Bick­ford's cool writings, just that: they're “too elegant not to be true,” they're popular with the college crowd, and the science is presumably discoverable should one care to look it up. Agur's sayings, like­wise, have turned up represented in many movies I've reviewed, to wit:

Prov. 30:7-9


Prov. 30:10

Don't tattle.

Prov. 30:11-14.

Don't rebel.

Prov. 30:15-16

Generational provision..

Prov. 30:17

Respect your parents..

Prov. 30:18-19

Wonderful things..

Prov. 30:20


Prov. 30:21-23

Disquieted Earth.

Prov. 30:24-28

Small wise things.

Prov. 30:29-31

Things going well.

Prov. 30:32

Recovering from embarrassment.

Prov. 30:33

Stirring up trouble.

These are popular themes that show up in the movies, the one exception being abstinence, which isn't so popular.

Production Values

“Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas” (2006) was written and directed by Scott Lew. It stars Patrick Fugit, Olivia Wilde, John Cho, and Matthew Lillard. Fugit pulled off his main part okay while Wilde was exceptional both in beauty and acting. Characters with the most screen time all seemed to have mental challenges, which I attribute to the writer/director Scott Lew (1968–2017) being challenged with (incurable) Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) when he made this picture. He appears in a cameo navigating a wheel­chair across campus.

“Cool Ideas” was certified R. The scenery was campus chic. It has a runtime of 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

One Way

This was a pretty good movie, and Spaceman's purging trip was unequalled, but you have to wait for it. It explores new territory, so it's hard to wrap one's head around a plot that turns this way and that. If your expectations aren't high, it should be enjoyable.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.