My first question is, what the fuck is all the hype about? "Being John Malkovich" is an interesting movie, and it has a great premise, but it's also works so damn hard to be weird that it ends up being not very interesting. I guess the Utne Reader pseudo-intellectual critics out there are falling all over themselves praising this movie, but I that's because they're afraid to have anyone think they're stupid.
I have no such fear. For Christ's sake, I work at a gas station, I often spill gas on myself and I recently let a customer drive away after I drained and forgot to refill her radiator. I'm pretty fucking retarded, but I know what's entertainment and "Being John Malkovich" isn't. It's mostly a jerk-off exercise by Hollywood pricks vigilantly trying to prove how clever they are.
John Cusack plays a puppeteer (oh, fuck it's already getting too cutesy) who can't find work while his nemesis is drawing giant crowds to his mega-puppet shows. He is forced to take a filing job at the Lestercorp, which is on the seven and a halfth floor of a high-rise. The space is half-sized, a cute visual joke but not one that's funny for an entire movie. Well, everyone at the Lestercorp is nutty, too much so. The owner is 105 and a lech, the receptionist is hard of hearing and misunderstands everything (a joke that isn't funny the first time and gets beaten like a broke-dick dog). Cusack takes an immediate shine to the hot-looking, but bitchy Catherine Keener. So did I. He wants to fuck her brains until they shoot our her nose (so did I). She, however, has no interest in him (but she might be interested in me--she should meet me).
While filing, Cusack accidentally discovers a small door. It's leads to a tunnel that is like a muddy waterslide. It leads Cusack into John Malkovich's head, played here by the head of John Malkovich. From there, Cusack experiences everything the way Malkovich does.
The fucking blabbermouth can't keep it to himself and he's quickly using the portal as a money-making business. They charge people $200 to experience Malkovich. Cusack's frowsy wife (Cameron Diaz looking like a fucking bag-lady to prove what a serious actress she is) finds out about the portal, tries it and begins to use Malkovich's body to fulfill her hot lesbian fantasies about Keener. This starts a torrid love affair between the two ladies, only when Diaz is inside Malkovich. Cusack,, still pining for a piece of Keener's boo, is jealous and holds his own wife hostage so that he can pose as her inside Malkovich and fuck Keener.
Soon enough Malkovich learns what the fuck's been going on and he tracks down Cusack. Cusack takes over the body of Malkovich and uses his celebrity to fuck Keener and promote his own puppetry career. During most of this, I think Diaz in locked in a chimp cage and Charlie Sheen hangs out with Malkovich.
The rightful owners to Malkovich's body come to claim it. They take Keener hostage to get Cusack out of the body so they can get in it. This leads to a disppointing climctic fht over the body, including a gun fight where people scramble for a loose pistol.
Needless to say, it's a really clever idea for a movie. There are some very funny moments, such as Charlie Sheen's cameo as a man obsessed with hot lesbian action. Who knew Charlie and I had so much in common? It's laugh out loud funny when Malkovich enters his own head and the world he sees is made entirely of himself, including midgets, a chanteuse and his own busty date.
Catherine Keener is utterly believable as a ball-busting bitch. She's the only character in the movie who isn't annoyingly whiny. And Malkovich is certainly a good sport. He dresses like a sissy, makes fun of himself, suffers the indignity of acting like a puppeteer and then plays John Cusack's character much better than Cusack did.
Beyond those highlights, though, the movie is trying so fucking hard to be clever and "brilliant" that it's almost unbearable. It feels like your friend's eight year old kid who is woken up late at night when everyone is drunk so he can dazzle you by reciting all the presidents. Yeah, it's fucking amazing, but it's not entertainment.
The movie is so busy being in love with the premise that it never really gets us to care about any of its characters. Cusack is a whiny puppeteer, which is illegal in 14 states. Diaz is frowsy, whiny and has no chemistry with any other character. Malkovich is Malkovich, a good sport, but not someone you ever worry about. The movie ends up being a two-hour exercise on how to exploit a single joke, although it's a very good joke. For it to get away with that, it should be a hell of a lot funnier and a buttload less precious.
I was really disappointed with how unfunny "Being John Malkovich" is. There are funny moments, but nowhere near enough. I guess there are jokes, but they're the shit the coffee-house people laugh at because they think the stupid people don't get it, not because it's funny. So, what the movie expects us to do is sit there for two hours with characters that we don't like as we watch the director and writer derive every bit out of a quickly dwindling situation. By the end, I didn't care about the characters and the jokes were all exhausted, so I wanted it to end.
Am I only guy in the world who can't stand John Cusack? In every movie I see him, the asshole is always so busy being a God damn actor that he never bothers to be the character he's playing. It's like he's admiring his own performance while he's acting. It's the "look at me" school of acting. Plus, in "Being John Malkovich" he looks so fake in his long hair and dirty clothes, like a pretentious asshole poet who tried to dress as a bum for Halloween.
Cameron Diaz looks like shit, too. She's got this really ugly fucking hair and her face looks all smashed in. Did director Spike Jonze think that her role would be diminished if she looked in any way pleasant? Why the fuck does she look so shitty, what's the point? She's also whiny and completely detached from the other actors. Her character is not convincing as a lesbian, as a wife, as an animal-tender, or as someone obsessed with John Malkovich. She's just an actress dressed dirty and reading lines off pages.
Actually, the whole movie goes out of its way to look like shit. The whole thing feels like it was shot under fluorescent lightbulbs, the people are usually covered with mud and look like shit, the sets mostly look like parts of my basement, and Diaz spends half the movie locked in a cage with a chimpanzee. This would be fine if there were a reason, but here it's distracting and sometimes unpleasant to watch, for no reason. Shit, I roll around in grime every day so I got no beef about it. But I don't find grime chic or entertaining like the rich kids seem to. It's just artsy-fartsy moviemaking nonsense.
A disappointing three fingers for "Being John
Malkovich." I would rather watch a movie that admitted it
was only trying to be funny, than one that wants to cater to
the phony intellectuals out there.