Despite the presence of a talking dog, "Summer of Sam" is not a children's movie. It's not an adult's movie, either. In fact, I don't know who the fuck this steaming heap is for. It sure ain't for those of us looking for entertainment. One sure sign that a movie sucks is if you won't miss anything by leaving halfway through it. Of course, I stayed until the bitter end for you guys, so you'd better appreciate it.
It's a Spike Lee flick, that's for sure. He's got it packed with all his usual shit: preachy important messages; total disregard for our need to be entertained; pretty pictures; and a few awkward art-school montages just to remind you that he thinks he's some sort of artiste. That must also be why he has that goatee.
It's 1977 in New York and the Son of Sam killer is on the loose. The wacko thinks the neighbor dog is telling him to kill brunettes. In the Bronx, a bunch of Italians are moderately inconvenienced by the Son of Sam. They know he's on the prowl and they worry that he may get them or the ones they love. There's John Leguizamo as a short, vaguely Italian philanderer. There's his boring, syrup-faced wife Mira Sorvino, she wants to please him in bed. There're unbelievably stupid guys who take it upon themselves to find and catch the Son of Sam. And there's Adrien Brody as a "punk-rocker" who is alienated from his community because he likes punk rock music and dresses like those loser kids in "Misfit" jackets who try to steal Mountain Dew from the Ralston Amoco.
Yes, that's the plot. And, no, it isn't any more interesting than that. Spike Lee uses the Son of Sam as an excuse to tell three painfully boring stories about stereotypical Italians. What do we learn? We learn that some are short-fused hotheads about as smart as the bags of flaming shit I put on my annoying neighbors' door. I mean, Spike Lee dumbs these guys so far down it's a wonder crap doesn't start oozing out their ears. We discover that you shouldn't cheat on your wife, even if you do think it's immoral to shove it up her ass. We also learn that, hey, era 1977 punk-rockers were people too.
Spike starts the movie with a scene that'll make audiences stand up and shout, "Holy shit! This movie's going to be boring." In it, ancient newspaper writer Jimmy Breslin stands in front of a "Dead End" sign and spouts a bunch of blah-blah crap in a monotone voice. "There are eight-million stories in the city, blah, blah, blah." The Dead End sign is a perfect omen of Spike Lee's level of subtlety throughout "Summer of Sam." Watching a tottering old fart, who is clearly uncomfortable in front of the camera, say a bunch of shit is your notice that Spike is after something "grand" and not entertainment. That guy must think we only go to the movies because PBS isn't showing a good documentary tonight.
Sorry, Mr.Lee. I go to the movies to have a decent time, and only after I check at All-American Video to see if they got "Sorority Butt-Fest XIV" in stock. I don't pay $7.50 to get a sermon, those are free at church. Make me happy or sad, but don't make me feel so Goddamned bored that I have to start kicking the chair in front of me just to see if the guy in it will tell me to stop.
The main problem with the movie is that it has almost absolutely nothing to do with the Son of Sam. He's the backdrop, and the movie claims to be about how people reacted to his killing spree. But, I call bullshit. Lee gets so into telling his boring stories that he doesn't bother linking them or giving us any sense of cause and effect. Maybe there is something there, but Spike is too into making each scene its own mini-drama, so drowned in heavy-handed meaning that he forgets to make this thing cohesive.
You bore my pants right off my legs, Mr. Lee. And that gets me in trouble with the authorities.
Another problem is that the stories Spike Lee are lame. They just kind of careen around the screen like a bunch of fat fucks at the Western Sizzlin' buffet, droning on and on until their inevitable conclusion. In the movie, it's that everyone ends up unhappy. At the Western Sizzlin', it's almost always some guy vomiting up half-digested fried chicken and then passing out in the john with his fat head wedged between the wall and the toilet. I don't care about asshole Leguizamo and his one-dimensional wife's marital problems. I don't care about whether the punk Brodey can fit in with his old friends. I have no fucking clue what Spike Lee is doing as a slow-speaking, uppity field reporter for a local TV station.
The movie also has no suspense. It is supposed to center around some of the Italians who try to catch the Son of Sam. Lee shows us who he is, so we know these morons are on the wrong track and we know they won't catch him. So, what's to sit and wait for?
Leguizamo must have a great publicist or manager, or whoever the fuck it is that sucks the cocks of directors in exchange for getting Leguizamo into the movies. Man, this guy is consistently annoying and it's not because of the characters he plays. He comes from that "talk-through-the-teeth" school of acting, where actors think it shows restraint to not open their God-damn mouths. Mr. Leguizamo, please stop being in movies. Failing that, learn how normal people act, not how actors act. Mira Sorvino adds nothing to the one-dimensional mousy wife that Spike Lee wrote. She plays it straight and dull as a straight and dull arrow that should have been aimed at Leguizamo's head. Adrian Brodey is mediocre as the punk. His character is so ill-defined that there ain't much the poor skinny prick can do. I mean, does Spike really think he understands punk in 1977? If so, why does he have this kid talking in a fake British accent, listening to the Who and filled with less anger than anyone else in the movie.
Okay, Spike, this was your last chance. You've had a bad case of the runs ever since "Do the Right Thing." I ain't paying for your homilies anymore. Two fingers for you and your film. And don't go calling me a racist because I hated it.