Once in every man's life, a movie comes along that speaks directly to him in profound ways. With Mrs. Filthy it happens more often, and usually not in a theater but on the Lifetime channel. "Clay Pigeons" is the kind of movie that doesn't speak to nobody.
Why? Because "Clay Pigeons" is phony. It's city folk actinglike stereotypes of country folk and thinking they can get away with it. Once again, the Hollywood assgrabbers are interpreting something they know nothing about, and I for one must stand up and holler "No, sirs, you cannot do that. And quit patting yourselves on the back all the time."
Joaquin Phoenix is Clay Bidwell. He lives in stereotypical, small-town scenic Montana mountains. He slept with his best friend's wife, his best friend found out. To punish Phoenix, his best friend shoots himself and tries to make it look like Phoenix did it. Phoenix tries to get the stiff's wife (Georgina Cates) to come clean with the truth, figuring that the police might frown on the extramarital doggy-style, but they can't throw him in the hoosegow for it. Cates refuses. Phoenix then would rather cover up the death than try to explain it. He's succeeds and he's off the hook. Or is he?
Now all Phoenix has to do is deal with Cates. Because she wants to continue the affair, she uses the suicide coverup as blackmail. Phoenix is the chump we're cheeing for, so he moans and groand about how wrong that is. He tries to fuck another woman to show how he doesn't want Cates anymore, but Cates shoots the new braod and ruins a waterbed. Right in the middle of a very entertaining sex-scene, too. God damn bastards. Rather than turn in Cates and have her blame him for her widow's death, Phoenix sinks the body in the lake.
Enter the mysterious stranger, played by Vince Vaughn. He befriends Phoenix. Out fishing, they find the body which Phoenix thinks is his dead fuck-friend. For some inexplicable reason he tells the sheriff he found it. But this is the body of yet another dead woman.
Jeneane Garofalo, top notch FBI agent, is on the trail. Seems there's been a slew of murders all over Montana. She immediately thinks Phoenix is the serial killer, because that makes the film more interesting.
How will Joaquin get himself out of this mess? What does Vaughn's mysterious stranger have to do with this all? Well, I could tell you, and you probably wouln't be that mad at me, but I'll keep it to myself. If you want to find out how it all shakes down you have to see the movie. Sorry, that's just my policy.
Vince Vaughn gives one of the damn finest performances I've seen in a while. His stranger stands out just enough in rural Montana to raise a few flags. He's too flashy, and his smile and laugh come a little too easy. He's the kind of stranger where you can't say for sure if he's a good guy or bad, but you don't invite him in for pie. He actually had me guessing for a full thirty minutes as to how he fit into the story.
The dialogue is quirky and believable. Usually, I only get one of those two for my hard-earned movie dollars. There are two fantastic sex scenes, too, both of which are "coitus interruptus" by the uncaring Mr. Death.
Where director David Dobkin and writer Matt Healy fuck up worst are in their use of tired clichés of small town life and their lazy attitude toward what I like to call plot. First off, I've been all over Montana and there ain't a single small town with three beautiful broads in it. Young people are getting the hell out of small towns, not sticking around to be killed by boredom or serial killers. Second, the sheriff that has so much free time on his hands that he builds a model ship, and the deputy that's always asleep were stale even before "The Andy Griffith Show." Get your asses out of those air-conditioned movie star offices and go see what small towns are really like. And if you find one with three promiscuous hotties, send me some e-mail. Finally, a cold-hearted, one-note widow? Hitchcock would kick you in the nards if he knew what you were doing to his children.
The plot has holes I could drive my humongous dick through. Why is Phoenix, who we're supposed to be pulling for, covering up murders he didn't even commit? Why, when he is in prison, does Phoenix have to escape rather than just tell the deputy who the real killer is so the deputy can send the FBI and police squad after him? Why do characters happen to turn up in the right place at the right time when the story needs them to? Why couldn't Phoenix prove easily enough that he wasn't in the other cities at the times of all the other murders? I'll tell you why: pure fucking laziness. Note to Dobkins and Healy: you can have substance and style. You don't have to choose just one.
You have attitude and charcter to burn, so you think you can just coast through the plot points? It doesn't wash with me, city boys.
Okay. I'm off to eat some Twix that I got stashed in my basement.
I'm letting "Clay Pigeons" off easy. It gets three
fingers. I expect, however, that the makers will take my comments
to heart and try harder next time.