Frailty (2002)

Killing People is Wrong, Destroying Demons is Good

Today’s movie comes as another review request, this time from my friend Ryan.  The movie did not escape my radar, but I never got visual confirmation on it.  That is an overly complicated way to say that I knew about it, but never saw it.  And to even say I knew about it perhaps goes too far.  I had seen the DVD on the shelves at stores, knew who was in it, vaguely knew it was horror, and that about covers it.  And I do greatly appreciate it when these requests make me watch a movie I hadn’t already seen, even if that movie is horrible.  Is this movie horrible?  Let’s find out in my review of Frailty, written by Brent Hanley, directed by and starring Bill Paxton, and starring Matt O’Leary, Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew McConaughey, Levi Kreis, Powers Boothe, Luke Askew, and Missy Crider.

We start off the story in a police office in Dallax, Texas.  Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) enters his office to talk to a man, who introduces himself as Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey).  Fenton tells Doyle that a rash of serial killings known as the “God’s Hand” killings are being committed by his brother, Adam (Levi Kreis).  Asked to explain, Meiks jumps into flashback.  When Adam (Jeremy Sumpter) and Fenton (Matt O’Leary) were kids, they lived a pretty normal life with their unnamed dad, Dad (Bill Paxton).  Normal, until Dad wakes up one night, stares at his bowling trophy, and decides he’s gotten a message from God.  This message is that he needs to start destroying demons, and he’ll be sent three magical weapons and a list that he’ll use to do so.  These demons will look like normal people, but they’re demons.  There is no other explanation for this than divine intervention.  Let’s kill some people!  …I mean destroy demons.  Adam is totally on board with Dad, but Fenton would rather be a stick in the mud.  Dad assures Fenton that their sins will be revealed to the family when he lays his hands on the demons.  God sends Dad the weapons in the form of a magical lead pipe to knock out the demons, magical gardening gloves so their sins aren’t revealed before justice time, and an axe with ‘Otis’ carved into the handle.  As Dad starts getting into the destruction of demons, Adam feels that he too can see the sins of the demons with Dad lays his hands on them, but Fenton sees nothing beyond his father murdering people with an axe.  Generally speaking, this doesn’t work out well for Fenton, but he must figure out what to do about Dad.

I mostly liked this movie.  Well, technically I guess I’d say I did like the movie, but I had story issues that are spoilers and I’ll get to later.  I found the story itself very intriguing.  As a religious person, you might expect I would find this movie upsetting because God is causing this guy to kill people.  As a rational person, you might expect I would find it upsetting because this nutjob with his Jesus crutch is killing people.  But, as me, I just found this to be a good, intriguing watch.  I did have a lot of the Jesus crutch reaction, but I’ll get into that when I spoil in the next paragraph.  There were a few parts that confused me about the movie, but they didn’t stop me from enjoying it.  When Paxton and Fenton go to kill Fenton’s first demon, the “demon” guy is very creepy and tries to attack them, but this is never explained at all.  As far as he knows, it’s just a guy and his kids with a flat tire.  Why was he attacking?  This part stuck in my brain as a problem a lot longer than it probably should have.  But, again, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie.

::SPOILER ALERT:: Let’s talk about what did take away from my enjoyment: the ending.  Throughout the entire movie, you’re never given any reason to believe that Paxton is anything but looney.  You’re being told the story in a flashback from someone that you believe is Fenton, the person who didn’t believe Dad and Adam.  In the end, it turns out that not only is the story being told by grown up Adam (McConaughey lying and saying he’s Fenton), but there is a greater possibility that God actually is leading them to kill people.  When Adam touches the hand of Powers Boothe, he sees that Boothe killed his own mother and that paralyzes Boothe into being unable to attack Adam.  Also, the people that let Adam in to see Agent Doyle inexplicably remembered nothing about Adam and even didn’t recognize him when they saw him again, and the surveillance footage had an imperfection that blocked his face.  I believed Paxton was a lunatic for the entire movie because my version of God wouldn’t tell someone to go kill things.  The way this movie ends seems to almost endorse the idea that some people may be doing the right thing to go out and kill for God.  The reason I’m torn about the ending is because they path they took was the one with the interesting twist, but the horrible message.  I’ll say it for this movie: “Just enjoy watching it, but don’t listen to your bowling trophy if it tells you to kill people.”  ::END SPOILERS::

It turns out McConaughey is a monkey!  HAHA!  Spoilers were NOT really over!  Okay, I’m just kidding.  Let’s talk acting.  McConaughey puts on a pretty solid performance here, and by that I mean he gets his shirt off by the second time you see him.  COME ON, DUDE!  Ah, who’m I kidding?  If I had sweet abs, I’d never wear a shirt either.  But he is fairly solid in this movie, but he’s also scarcely in it.  When he is, he’s pretty apprehensive and beaten down as you would expect Fenton to be after what you see him go through, and he changes persona in the very end.  When he’s not in the movie, he’s played by Matt O’Leary, who performs very well for the most part.  He’s the only one who doesn’t believe what’s going on is divinely inspired and he can’t get help because he loves his father but knows he has to do something and starts doubting religion because of it.  He pulls off the conflict very well.  Both versions of Adam are barely featured here.  Powers Boothe was alright.  No complaints.  Oh wait…  That dude was Curly Bill in Tombstone?  I’m going to up my response to his performance.  He was now the greatest actor ever.  Okay, he wasn’t even the greatest in this movie.  Bill Paxton stole the show, and why wouldn’t he?  He did direct the thing.  But he does crazy well, and he also does loveable well, so he did this part perfectly.  He was crazy, but he was also a good dad, so you can understand Fenton’s conflict.

There you go, Ryan.  Thanks and you’re welcome.  Thanks because I did like this movie.  Interesting story with a nice twist ending, although that same ending kind of kicked any positive message in the balls.  The performances were also very good.  And, of course, you’re welcome because I just typed over 1200 words for you.  Frailty is definitely worth a rental, though I don’t think it’s on Netflix streaming, and I doubt you’ll find it in a RedBox, but you should rent it at least.  I think it’d probably be a pretty cheap purchase by now, and I may do just that.  Altogether, I will give Frailty “We’re just fulfilling God’s will” out of “Sometimes truth defies reason”.

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!

Gigli (2003)

The Movie That Made My Penis Sneeze

It’s time for another review request, this time of a movie many have called “The Worst Movie Ever Made”. I’m pretty sure I had watched this before because one of my friends actually purchased it on DVD and claimed it was actually good. When I watched the movie then, I thought it was boring and juvenile, but so was my friend. And when it was requested for me to watch it again and write a review for it, I realized I had retained nothing from the first viewing of the movie whatsoever. But now I’ve watched it again, so let’s find out what I thought of Gigli, written and directed by Martin Brest, and starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bartha, Lenny Venito, Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Lainie Kazan, and Missy Crider.

Larry Gigli (prounounced Jiggly, I think. Also, played by Ben Affleck) is a very cliched mobster. His boss, Louis (Lenny Venito), tells him to kidnap the mentally handicapped younger brother of a federal prosecutor to save a mob boss from jail. Jiggly shows up to take Brian (Justin Bartha) back to his apartment when a pretty Hispanic lady (Jennifer Lopez) asks to use his phone. He lets his penis do the thinking and lets her in, only to find out she’s another contractor sent by Louis to make sure Jiggly doesn’t fuck up. She tells him her name is Ricki, but it’s not. Jiggly starts falling for Ricki because of that sweet ass, but finds out he’s barking up the wrong lesbian. Add a cop who’s only suspicious of Jiggly for one scene (Christopher Walken), the ex-girlfriend of Ricki who slits her wrists in Jiggly’s apartment because she can’t get over Ricki (Missy Crider), and the mob boss who doesn’t like the way things are going with the federal prosecutor (Al Pacino) and you fill enough time to call this a movie. Leave Brian on a beach and Jiggly rides off into the sunset with Ricki and you have the movie Gigli.

What? I spoiled the movie? Whatever could that mean? DON’T WATCH IT! This isnt a good movie. It’s kind of like watching a Kevin Smith movie that he wrote shortly after being brutalized in the head with a lead pipe, and then someone threw a mob plot in there. In fact, there’s one scene in the middle where Ben Affleck is confessing his growing affection for the lesbian Ricki that is very reminiscent of a very similar scene from Chasing Amy if you took away the rain, added a bad Italian accent, and removed the emotional quality of the scene. Sadly, it seems as if the story may have worked if they removed the thin subplot about Affleck and Lopez being contract mobsters and the unnecessary comic relief of the retarded kid. But then you’d just have a poorly written Chasing Amy, so I guess you shouldn’t do that. They had plenty of moments involving Lopez and Affleck discussing how awesome the penis or the vagina are, but to no great effect because they didn’t have the charm and cleverness of Kevin Smith’s much better version. Even the fact that Lopez (at her best) was wearing skin tight workout gear and doing yoga held no interest for me because I had to listen to what the two of them were saying. And, ladies, even if you’re as hot as J’Lo, if you ever invite me to perform cunnilingus on you by saying “It’s turkey time. Gobble, gobble,” I will leave. Or at least think twice. The greater majority of the “funny” moments are supplied by Justin Bartha acting retarded; being a retarded white dude rapping songs about big butts, and making statements about how someone makes his “penis sneeze”. God bless you, penis. I like Bartha, but I found these moments came closer to offensive and unnecessary than funny. The rest of the moments made me uncomfortable in how unfunny they were, like when Affleck was psyching himself up to go in and bag Lopez by flexing in the mirror and spouting things about how he was the bull and she was the cow. The funniest thing in this movie was the scene from the Man Show playing on the TV Justin Bartha was watching. There were also a few things that didn’t make any sense, like when Affleck had to cut the thumb off of a corpse and decided to do it with a plastic butter knife. A rock would be sharper! You’d have better luck with a piece of paper! You’re in a hospital and you can’t find SOMETHING to cut a thumb off? Don’t give me that. It makes less sense that he was able to find a plastic butter knife!

Though I consider myself a big fan of Kevin Smith movies – and this gentleman can be found in the lion’s share of them – I have never been that big of a fan of Ben Affleck, and this movie did nothing to assist that. His over-the-top Italian schtick got on my nerves early and stuck it out for the rest of the movie. But he was the bomb in Phantoms. J’Lo was hot through the entire movie, so that was nice, but I never believed that either of these two were mobsters. It just didn’t seem to be in their genetic make-up. I guess I kind of believed her as a lesbian, but those lesbians are tricky. They can be anyone! One positive thing I will say about the two stars is that they did have a nice chemistry to their lame interactions, which I suppose you should expect from people that were dating – or engaged or whatever – at the time. I like Justin Bartha from the National Treasure movies … so I’m going to ignore that he was in this. Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, and Lainie Kazan all popped up in cameos for one scene a piece, and did a much better job than the movie deserved. Christopher Walken was the wacky Walken character that he seems to love to play. Kazan was the Italian mother that either sets or follows the standard for Italian mothers. Pacino was a good character too because he starts off seeming a bit goofy and turns pretty hard into intimidating. I liked all three until I got to thinking about why they would be in this crap.

Gigli is a movie that I feel would be offensive to ‘tards, dykes, and wops, and I personally would never do, say, or type anything to offend those lovely ‘tardy, homo, guido peoples. In fact, it is probably offensive to anybody because it’s a comedy that isn’t funny and a movie with lame story. There are a couple good performances and decent chemistry by people that are otherwise unappealing beyond J’Lo’s hotness. Is this, in fact, the worst movie ever made? No. Is it even the worst movie of 2003? Probably not, based on my limited memory of what movies came out that year. But is it a movie you need to see? No, unless you want to be bored and uninterested. You can skip this movie. Gigli gets “” out of “This must be mental-fuckin’-illness week!”

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!