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This week:


Filthy says:
"Who does Shymalan think he's kidding?"


This year , I was told not to come home for Thanksgiving because I have a bad attitude (Hell, if I had a nickel for every time I was told that I'd be in a pretty fucking good mood). So, the lovely Mrs. Filthy and I chose to stay home and have a quiet, elegant meal to spite my parents.

It was a joy, and unlike the annual disasters with my family there was no hair-pulling (well, maybe a little), no wrestling my father (he bites) for the TV remote, and we didn't have to watch my mother lock herself in the bathroom, crying and screaming she wouldn't bring out our Hungry Mans out until I stopped teasing the cat.

Mrs. Filthy lit up some citronella candles she found in the cupboard, I chilled my beer, and the Stouffer's turkey dinners were better than that Swanson's shit my mom feeds us. We ate two each, with the Mrs. giving me her second helping of cranberry compote while she wasn't looking.

After dinner, my wife went to bed because she had to work early Friday at the annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Calico Print Blowout at the fabric store. I stayed up, polished off my 12-pack of Lowenbrau (special-occasion beer) and searched the Internet for porno site passwords. We can all give thanks that so many are available.

Before the Thanksgiving feast, however, I made the Mrs. join me in an extra helping of overcooked turkey. Unbreakable is a deadly-serious silly movie. It's like a funeral we once had for a squirrel, way more somber, long and expensive than it needed to be. The big difference, of course, is that my dog won't go and dig up this movie and eat its head.

Bruce Willis is the only survivor of a train wreck, and he is unharmed. Nobody understands how he survived, except Samuel L. Jackson, a hotheaded comic-book collector with a bone disease that makes him like a sheet of peanut brittle at my wife's book club meetings; busted up instantly. Jackson wears flashy purple suits, has a funky, nappy hairdo, a fancy cane, is called "Mr. Glass" and drives a kooky classic Checker auto. He believes there is a reason for Willis's survival and that he's never been sick or injured, and stalks him to find out more.

Willis is in a struggling marriage, he doesn't know why it's failing, but we know it's serious shit because he and his wife, Robin Wright Penn, do a lot of moping and acting really serious. This subplot is completely underdeveloped, magically resolved in the undertow of events.

Willis slowly accepts that he's a superhero--invincible, powerful and clairvoyant--and he is unhappy because he hasn't been solving superhero crimes. In the last half-hour of Unbreakable, he solves one crime, then learns who his arch-enemy is. Now, I won't tell you who it is because that's supposed to be a BIG secret. But, let's just say that it's a character I've mentioned, and that character dresses like a super-villain, has a super-villain nickname and super-villain hair.

Oh, my God, you'll never guess because it's such a big fucking surprise. You'll even be shocked when the villain has to yell "I'm your arch-enemy!" just in case you couldn't figure it out.

The whole movie is fucking preposterous and pretentious. Shymalan sets the audience up for the story of a man's complex dealing with guilt and confusion as the only survivor of a terrible accident. Then, slowly (very slowly) he adds ludicrous elements, until the whole fucking thing topples over as a cheesy comic book punchline. It's totally unsatisfying and actually irritating that Shymalan tries to sell his crappy twist as mystical bullshit. A character's problems being resolved when he discovers he's a superhero might pass for genius on the pages of "Archie Double Digest" but it smells like shit on the screen.

I'm sure there are thousands of overfed, socially-retarded comic-book collectors out there who will find Unbreakable to be brilliant, some sort of validation of their hobby as socially acceptable. But, this review is for normal people, folks who know how to talk to other adults, leave home before age 27 and bathe regularly.

The story crawls. It's supposed to appear atmospheric and moody, but so little happens it's really like a half hour of story stretched into 100 minutes, with the extra seventy minutes used to repeat the obvious and give Willis multiple opportunities to stand there and stare at stuff. We get a gripping ten-minute sequence where he finds out he's never been sick from work, and another long powerful shot of Willis eating cereal. Wow, that's pretty artsy shit.

Like in his overrated mope-epic The Sixth Sense, Shymalan must have written the "surprise" ending first and then jury-rigged a story to it. And it's some corny shit. It's absurd that a man would just now realize he's never been injured or sick, or that he is clairvoyant and inhumanly strong. It's ridiculous that, in a world of six-billion people, the villain finds his exact opposite in the same city, and so easily (he kills about 500 people to find one who survives ­ that's approximately a better than one in 10,000,000 chance). One brutally awkward scene has Willis's son, Spencer Treat Clark, point a gun at him to prove he has superpowers. It's a ridiculous and unbelievable scene, and I wasn't the only person in the audience laughing my ass off at it.

Willis adds nothing to a character who is written as sad. Shymalan has nothing else for this character to do. He mopes with less emotion than a zombie in Night of the Living Dead, or my wife when I tell her I'm feeling frisky. He underacts so badly it becomes a bizarre form of overacting, like a desperate plea from a rich fucker "How do middle class people look when they're sad?"

Jackson does better with what he's given, showing both weakness and his patented reserved anger. He comes across as a strong man trapped in a frail body, just like almost all comic book villains (oops, did I give it away). He is allowed to play it more campy and it's the only air injected into this dull story. Penn does nothing but act sad as the wife. Maybe she is sad because her character is practically discarded so Shymalan can play with his action figures more.

The ending of this movie, where the arch-enemies finally confront each other, is where a good movie would start. That movie would be a duel of wits and strengths, not a fucking loser moping around wondering why he isn't happy. Instead, Shymalan pusses and gives us a confrontation with less fight in it than a thalidomide baby. Some fucking arch-villain, when his whole goal in life was finding a hero to oppose, and once he does he has no other evil plans. And, when they confront each other and Jackson has to explain in lengthy detail that he's the bad guy, Willis only needs to make one phone call to get him locked up. Very clever, Mr. Shymalan. Your bad guy put up quite a fight, there.

Dark, slow and moody does not mean something's intelligent. Sometimes it just means it's dull. And in Unbreakable, it's an expensive mask for an inane and pretentious story. Two fingers for this ludicrous floater in Hollywood's bowl.


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