The Bodyguard (1992)


Lord, Why Couldn’t You Have Taken Bobby?!

Unfortunately, my week-long trip to Arizona was not all smiles and sunshine.  Tragedy struck as the entire world realized that sometimes singers are just singers, and sometimes have drug problems, and also American soldiers die all the time without mention, but let’s talk about Whitney Houston instead.  I’m kidding … kind of.  But the lady singer did pass away while I was on vacation, causing many people to be completely devastated, causing my sister to request that I review today’s movie, and causing me to immediately think “Oh, it was probably drugs” and move on with my breakfast.  But Whitney Houston was still an amazing singer and I feel as though I should pay tribute to her because of her passing, both with the review of a movie she was in and a somewhat spiteful opening paragraph.  With that, I give you my review of The Bodyguard, written by Lawrence Kasdan, directed by Mick Jackson, and starring Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Tomas Arana, Michele Lamar Richards, Bill Cobbs, Gary Kemp, Mike Starr, DeVaughn Walter Nixon, Christopher Birt, Robert Wuhl, and Debbie Reynolds.

Because no one in movies is ever allowed to be the second or third best of the best, Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is a former Secret Service Agent who now works as the best of the best bodyguards for people.  He generally works exclusively for presidents and corporate VIPs, but is painstakingly talked into protecting a celebrity named Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) by her manager Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs).  Along with her recent nomination for an Oscar, Marron has acquired a new stalker, but not one of the cool ones that are quirky and funny, but generally harmless … like me …  She instead gets one of those stalkers that somehow justifies his desire to kill her with how much he loves her.  Frank comes in and starts fixing all of the holes in her personal security, much to the chagrin of her current bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr), her sister Nikki (Michele Lamar Richards), and her publicist Sy Spector (Gary Kemp).  Her driver Henry (Christopher Birt) and her son Fletcher (DeVaughn Walter Nixon) seem okay with it.  Frank’s efforts to protect Rachel don’t go well, due to the incompetence of her existing crew, and her own random bitchiness directed at him.  Will Frank have the ability, and the patience, to protect this singer?

My opinion of anything will not be swayed by a person’s death.  I didn’t find Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, or Michael Jackson any more special after their untimely demises than I did before their death.  I say that so that the proper amount of weight will be applied to the following statement: the only reason anyone remembers this movie at all is because of Whitney Houston.  She single-handedly elevated this movie beyond being entirely forgettable to being slightly above mediocre.  The weirdest part of that statement is that I intended it to be a compliment.  The story of this movie does not really work that well.  It’s got a thriller aspect to it that never really works that well because of how predictable the killer, and motive, is very early in the film.  More memorably, this movie is a love story … that also never really works because it barely makes sense.  Rachel is such a dirty bitch to Frank for the greater majority of the movie that I can’t understand Frank having any desire to be around her beyond the fact that Houston was fucking gorgeous at the time.  So I understand why he smashes that, but then he sticks around afterwards, driving her off with some nonsense about how he can’t protect her if he cares about her, which turns her into an even bigger bitch.  In her defense, she could’ve just had residual anger at him for the part where he shows off how sharp his katana is by cutting her scarf in half.  But the entire premise of that situation doesn’t make any sense at all.  What the fuck do you mean you can’t protect her if you’re falling in love with her and sleeping with her from time to time?  As I understand it, boyfriends and husbands are able to combine those two things with a fair degree of frequency!  This is hardly the only thing in this movie that doesn’t make sense to me.  At one point, everyone looks at Frank like he’s a madman because he suggests that Rachel go to brunch on Tuesday instead of her usual day.  Am I missing something?  Is there a designated day for brunching and Tuesday is just a major faux pas?  Later, Rachel catches Frank watching one of her movies intently, but is pretty much only able to tell what he is watching in the guest house (from the main house) because he is apparently playing it at the maximum volume that a human can listen to without their ears bleeding.  Also, I know that they were trying to show a great many things to illustrate how shitty Rachel’s security would be without Frank, but how would security personnel keep their job when they not only allow Milli Vanilli lookalikes to rush up on stage to dance with Rachel, but also allow it to get out of hand and have her get pulled into the audience that then tries to do everything it can to rob/rape her.  They don’t get to the rape, but it would’ve just been a matter of time.  The final, and greatest, omission of logic must be bracketed by ::SPOILER ALERT::  The sister did it.  Yes, I know, it’s shocking once you randomly hear her tell Frank about how she and Rachel got their start, not even barely concealing her excruciating jealousy for her sister, that she would eventually be the cause of it.  I half expected the end of the movie to be Frank unmasking her as she yelled “I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling Secret Service Agents!”  The predictability of it isn’t the only problem, it’s also fuckin’ insane!  I understand the concept of being jealous of your sibling.  Not through personal experience, because I’m so fucking awesome, but I understand how my sister feels living in my shadow.  But I also feel pretty sure that she wouldn’t try to kill me because of it.  I figured the sister in this movie might pay someone to scare the shit out of Rachel with death threats, but perhaps the person went off the rails and took it too far.  But for the sister to be so jealous (even though she’s living in luxury because of her sister) goes way too far.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think it is not going too far to assume that the only reason any of us remember this movie is because of the songs.  More specifically, the song.  Whitney Houston has mad pipes, son!  They display a couple of Whitney’s songs in this movie, but one of them specifically takes the cake.  They use “I Have Nothing”, “I’m Every Woman”, and “Run to You”, all of which are pretty damned good songs, but the one song no one should be able to forget is “I Will Always Love You”.  If you don’t get goosebumps listening to this song at the end of this movie – especially knowing now that she’s no longer with us – I believe you are an asshole.  What occurred to me about that song was that I never really knew this song wasn’t always Whitney’s.  It was apparently written by Dolly Parton, but I don’t know that version of the song.  In the movie, they played what sounded like a guy singing it in a country fashion, and this amused me because of how much Whitney blows that version out of the water at the end of the movie.  It’s such a heartfelt and touching song, which makes me think much less of the “Queen of the Night” song that immediately follows it in the credits.

The performances in this movie were mostly forgettable.  Whitney was, by far, the only person in this movie that impressed.  Not only was she an amazing singer, but she was a solid actress too.  She probably wasn’t playing a character that was all that far removed from herself, but she was very believable.  The dialogue she was delivering was a little stilted in parts, and the part where she asks Kevin Costner out on a date was awkwardly delivered and strangely justified, but I don’t blame either of those things on her.  The writing was just a little soft in parts of this movie.  Whitney, you are good enough.  Kevin Costner?  Eh, not so much.  No, he was fine.  He just didn’t impress.  It seemed like there was a very good chance that he actually had no real training with weaponry or Secret Service tactics.  Take, for instance, the time when he was telling Rachel’s sister to stay put downstairs as he investigated the noises upstairs.  I’m pretty sure lesson one of Guns 101 is “Don’t gesture at people’s faces with a loaded gun.”  The second rule is we don’t talk about … that girl we just accidentally shot in the face and dumped in the lake.  One could also make the argument that actual Secret Service agents don’t do action hero moves like diving through a window, somersaulting, and landing on your feet.  I think they just go through the door.  I think they also don’t really recommend being in the middle of a shootout, kneeling down in the snow, and closing your eyes, presumably to better use the Force to defeat his opponent.  Unfortunately, the Force was not strong with this one.  The only person in this movie that gave me anything to think about was the insignificant character that attempts to hit on Costner as Whitney tries to make Costner jealous by taking Tomas Arana into a back room, but that’s only because that girl looks a lot like a post-menopausal Gozer.

I’m pretty sure I’ve just put all the words down that could be written about this movie.  It’s a thoroughly mediocre movie with thoroughly mediocre performances, and would have been forgotten entirely by now if it weren’t for the efforts of the recently deceased.  By being quite possibly the best actor in this movie, and delivering immensely enjoyable songs, she made this a movie that will be (and probably already has been) remembered much longer than the movie would deserve otherwise.  Because it’s regarded as a classic, I imagine it will not be long until I endeavor to add this movie to my collection, assuming I can find it for somewhere within the five to ten dollar range.  It’s definitely something you can watch and not hate that much, but you can skip to the good parts by purchasing the soundtrack instead.  The Bodyguard gets “You people have no clue what real security is or what it takes to achieve it” out of “The atomic number of zinc is thirty.”  We’ll miss you, Whitney.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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4 responses to “The Bodyguard (1992)

  1. Thank you for reviewing this movie, however, I would like to point out a few things. 1. I believe no cause of death has been attributed to Ms. Houston’s death and really she could have been clean but simply died naturally from the long damaging use of drugs on her organs and body. 2. I think if you review this in the CONTEXT of 1992 and movies released of the time, you’d find its above par for the course considering Home Alone 2 and Lethal Weapon 3, however falling short of the greats of Sister Act and Wayne’s World. 3. I love, “As I understand it, boyfriends and husbands are able to combine those two things with a fair degree of frequency!” It’s very true. I think there should have been more of a conflict in order to leave. 4. Your sister is more diabolical than you think as she kills with kindness. 🙂

    Katie

    • 1. I believe I can assume what killed her. I keep checking back on Wikipedia, but Richard tells me that she was mixing cocaine with alcohol that night. I’ll say my information comes from a reliable source. Reliable enough for me, at least. 2. I’m just reviewing them from the perspective of today. Back then, I probably wouldn’t have dug on it very much either because it’s kind of a chick flick. And I’m not reviewing movies while wearing a dress … anymore. 3. Yeah, I make excellent observations. 4. I think I have a good understanding of how diabolical you are.

  2. Now I know what I have been missing for so long in all the movie reviews I read in newspapers and magazines–profanity. You have a good enough vocabulary to not have to use that. Some valid points were made in the review and in an interesting way. Guess it has been way too long since I have seen that movie and thought there were more famous actors than you showed on the cast list. Robert Wuhl is familiar. And it makes me wonder what in the world Debbie Reynolds was doing in the movie (A tap dance? A song? Love her but don’t know where she fit in this) By the way, I like Dolly Parton and have heard her version, which has a lot of vibrato but to me doesn’t carry the same emotional weight although it apparently was a personal song for her. Also think you sometimes veered into it being more of a review of Robert Bicket than of the movie.

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