Hey, whore, how's
the whoring? This week, the honor goes to:
Timothy Shriver, President of the Special Olympics
says about i am sam:
"Once in a
while an extraordinary movie comes along, defying everyone's
expectations of what great drama is all about. i am sam
is such a movie!"
First, did e.e.
cummings write the fucking screenplay or did it cost extra for
capital letters? Second, if you're the type of person who waits
to see what the Special Olympics says before heading to the theater,
well, you've found your movie.
Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.
The Count of Monte
"Action-Adventure minus action and adventure!!"
I wish the kids who go to this movie could spend a Saturday
night at the Arvada Tavern with me. I mean, I can think of nothing
healthier for a pre-pubescent young man than to enter the slippery
world of Olde Town's finest taphouse. It's sticky with generic-brand
smoke, rank with sweat and fried beef, murky as an East Coast
river and drowning in the clangor of classic rock and the Harelip's
screeds that grate like a train derailing. It has more of what
kids love than the latest botch-job The Count of Monte Cristo
delivers. A night at the Tavern is all suspense, high-drama and
coldblooded revenge. The movie is a thuddingly dull remake of
the great Alexander Dumas' novel that focuses on all the wrong
The Count of Monte Cristo takes place in the early
19th century but, as you'll see, the story of revenge is as timeless
as a busted watch. Jim Caviezel plays Edmond Dantés, an
honorable shipmate on a merchant vessel. Guy Pearce is Fernan
Mondego, his so-called friend and generally poncy fop. Out of
jealousy for Caviezel's wife (Dagmara Dominczyk) and life , Mondego
has his pal arrested for helping Napoleon escape from Elba, where
he is imprisoned in exile. Of course, Caviezel was not knowingly
aiding the old emperor, but he is imprisoned in Chateau d'If,
an inescapable prison for misfits and public embarrassments by
a judge with his own hidden interests (James Frain). Trapped
in the dank prison for 14 years, Caviezel takes on a very John
Walker Lindh style to his personal hygiene and befriends an old
priest (Richard Harris). Harris teaches him all sorts of book
learning shit and how to swordfight while they tunnel to the
outer wall of the prison.
At the Tavern, the slippery and prickly Worm and his mobile-home-mate,
the quietly surly Spinner, showed up about midnight one Saturday.
The Harelip was already there, mixing peppermint schnapps and
rum. As he's accustomed to do, Worm immediately told her she's
a slut while trying to shove his hand down her control-top pants.
Unbeknownst to Worm or the rest of us, Spinner and the Harelip
came to some sort of romantic agreement out by the grease bin
on Tuesday and they still had the stains on their pants to prove
it. The Harelip shoved Worm away and smothered her new beau's
neck with kisses that left behind a snail's trail of lipstick,
alcohol and spit. Needless to say, Worm was more than a little
put out. Here was his special girl, the one he secretly loved,
rejecting him for a guy who has a smaller room in their trailer.
This was the girl he drunkenly and lovelessly fucked out in the
alley so many times it had become a weekly ritual, and this was
how she said thanks. Like a wounded dog, Worm skulked off to
the corner to nurse his wound with a string of Bud taps. Still
sulking, worm watched Spinner head for the john. Worm pounced.
He barred the door with two pool cues and trapped Spinner in
the dank, rank and mossy men's room. It wasn't for fourteen years,
and unless Spinner has a deeper understanding of "Here I
sit all brokenhearted" poetry on the stall wall, he didn't
get any smarter.
In The Count of Monte Cristo, Caviezel manages to escape,
but not through the tunnel he was digging. Before he dies, Harris
gives him a map to the biggest buried treasure imaginable. With
the help of a pirate whose life he spares (Luis Guzman), Caviezel
gets the loot and transforms himself into the fabulously wealthy
Count of Monte Cristo so that he can exact a plan of revenge
against the men who framed him for treason and the women whom
he thinks betrayed him.
In the Tavern, Spinner didn't really escape his imprisonment.
He just ran out of the men's room when Lloyd opened the door
to take a piss. Like the Count when freed, Spinner had one thing
on his mind: sweet revenge. Worm was nowhere to be seen, and
neither was the Harelip. Spinner knew exactly where the two traitors
were: Desperation Point, that dark crevace between the grease
bin and the trash dumpster where a pile of soiled cardboard gives
old lovers some needed padding to cushion the violent collision
of their sagging skin and bony edges.
He ran out the back door with most of the rest of us close
behind. Nobody was surprised to find Worm and the Harelip in
flagrante delicto, although we were all surprised to use
such a classy term to describe a grown man lying on his back
with a woman hovered above him, farting while he grunted "Burgers,
burgers, fucking burgers, baby!"
When Worm saw Spinner, he got to his knees and said, "She
looks good up there!" he said to Spinner, "clean as
a whistle." But Spinner wasn't buying it and now it was
time for revenge. What would he do? Would it be the piss in the
shampoo bottle, perhaps the dreaded upper-tanker, or maybe a
long campaign of posting signs declaring Worm a homosexual like
he did to his father. Spinner was way ahead of us. He said, simply,
"You can't use my Selsun Blue anymore" and left. He
went to his and Worm's mobile home, removed his porno magazines,
beer-can pyramid and big screen TV before burning the fucker
to the ground. And then Spinner disappeared.
That's fucking revenge, cold as a bear's winter shit. Revenge
is something The Count of Monte Cristo is interested in
name only. Really, for a tale about revenge, it has very little
actual revenge and too much nattering exposition about it. While
this should be a great tale full of action and adventure, it
instead just wobbles along like a three-legged donkey. Where
there should be action, we get talking heads in dull, claustrophobic
shots. Paris is reduced to a single mansion, Marseilles is a
short stretch of dock, and all of the action that should take
place on large merchant ships is simply ignored because big boats
are expensive. Fuck, Caviezel spends a year with pirates, and
all we get is him hugging the pirate captain at the end of the
voyage. Even the impossible-to-escape Chateau d'If--where way
too much of the story takes place--becomes two cheap-looking
Hollywood sets. For a sweeping epic, this is one cheap-looking
piece of shit.
What little action there is gets shot with the indifference
of an industrial video. The fights are flat and lifeless, but
the biggest crime is how the fucking movie takes 90 minutes to
get to its revenge plot. First, we spend what feels like forever
in Chateau d'If. We get scene after scene of Harris and Caviezel
digging and talking. Talking about what? Mostly they're just
trying to chew through the expository lumps in the script. They
ludicrously resolve plot points by pulling facts out of their
asses. When we finally get to the revenge, it's not even inspired.
We don't get to see the world's wealthiest man do anything clever.
He simply lays out three easy traps and the villains fall into
them like dogs going for peanut butter bones. No fight, no mystery,
no Rube-Goldberg machinations, just a dreary anti-climax that's
handled with lumbering ambivalence.
Why should we root for whiny do-gooder Caviezel? That's a
good fucking question, and the wrong answer is because Pearce
is so God damn annoying, although that's true. We basically follow
Caviezel from being a good man to being a shallow, vengeful asshole
with nothing better to do than piss and moan about getting screwed
sixteen years ago. Even worse, the movie pusses out on the ending.
It doesn't show us the hollow victory that revenge is because
it has to tack on a bullshit Hollywood happy ending. Where this
could and should show us how empty revenge is, this turd pulls
a switcheroo and avoids making any statement. Caviezel gets his
girl, his money and his happiness. Fucking Hollywood asholes.
I'm sure that somewhere, Spinner is rebuilding his life with
nothing but his dirty mags and TV, and not a day goes by he doesn't
think that burning down his mobile home was a mistake. It was
an expensive lesson, for sure, but not as pricey as the one my
neighbor got when he tried to demonstrate the "foolproof"
safety guard on his bandsaw.
The acting is dull with every character as broad and flat
as Kansas. Caviezel and the script never make anything unique
from a guy who is on screen in every fucking shot. Pearce is
a big enough ham to win the 4H Club show. He plays what should
be a masculine role as a sniveling poncy fop that would embarrass
Oscar Wilde. Dominczyk is given nothing to do. Her comely lass
sure doesn't seem worth fighting over. Not like the Harelip.
And Frain must be under the impression that he's getting paid
to drill holes with his eyes because he's stares like an enraged
border collie. I blame director Kevin Reynolds, as dull an action
director as Hollywood has produced (Robin Hood, Waterworld
and Rapa Nui) for fucking up a golden opportunity.
Two Fingers for the botched Count of Monte Cristo,
and Four Fingers for Worm, Spinner and Harelip.
to tell Filthy something?