Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ten Statements About....THE BIG WHITE (2005)

Yep...Holly Hunter bound with electrical tape.  It's a
laugh, wait, No It Isn't!
"Tastes like a rectal polyp."
"How would she know?"

1) This film is to Fargo and A Simple Plan what Killing Zoe and Romeo Is Bleeding is to Reservoir Dogs. Namely, it's a film where director Mark Mylod and writer Collin Frieson so wanted to be The Coen Brothers and/or Sam Raimi that they took a giant broad jump over the line that separates hommage from slavish imitation....and ended up with a horrid mess.

2) Of course, the film maybe could have been saved if the people involved were actually invested in giving actual performances. With one, maybe two exceptions, this cast--and it's a very strong cast--is more concerned with mugging and broadness and quirkiness rather than making us believe in them as actual characters. This results in us never connecting with the narrative and just staring at this endless freakshow.

3) You know how badly constructed Freison's script is? It's so bad that certain integral character points are totally obscured. I did not get that Holly Hunter's Margaret was suffering from what she claimed was Tourette's until it's mentioned forty-five minutes in. I didn't realize that the two aspiring hit men played by Tim Blake Nelson and W. Earl Brown were supposed to be gay until almost the end of the film. These aspects of the characters are supposed to be the source of major laughs, but those laugh lines fall flat because they're not made clear enough. This movie is so fragmented and sloppily written that it actively sabotages itself.

4) The only actor who seems really invested in making this movie work is Robin Williams' Paul. Williams actually endeavors to make this mess of Coen-isms, quirks and badly constructed narrative points. Willams does his best to give Paul's desperation and sadness a tangible quality, making the action he takes thoroughly understandable. It's a pity no one else takes Williams' approach to this material.

It's Alison Lohman rocking a ski hat and looking cute.
Your arguments are no longer valid.
5) Alison Lohman has a thankless, thankless role as Giovanni Ribisi's girlfriend. Her only job in this film is to look cute, whine about relationships and give her boyfriend a key plot development in a coincidental way. She is wasted in this movie, the biggest sore spot in an entire landscape of soreness.

That being said, I'd love to see in her just that lil' ski hat she wears for most of the film. And nothing else.

6) What happened to Giovanni Ribisi? I know he's a great actor. I've seen him give great performances. Why is he, as the insurance investigator Tim, doing this lame imitation of Matthew Broderick? I can never take him seriously, nor sympathize with him, because he's such an relentless pratt.
That masked man should have beat up the writer and not
Giovanni Ribisi
7) And then there's Holly Hunter....oh, GOD, Holly Hunter. If most everyone in the film can't be bothered to invest themselves in the film, Hunter's Margaret seems to have invested herself in another film entirely. It's almost as if she took her role as an excuse to follow up on any impulse she had, resulting in this flopping, ranting, ludicrous performance where she just behaves in ways I suspect were meant to be cute, but are just repellant.

8) You know, this film is so amazingly sloppy that we're led to believe the movie proper will explain the opening tableau of Hunter skipping down the road in pajamas in a snowstorm, the events of the third act lead you to believe that promise will be paid off on--and then you realize that that first scene was never intended to be a teaser at all.

9) Is there a reason for this film to be set in Alaska (played by Winnipeg) other than to fool us that it's an American production? Didn't think so.

10) I suppose I should think of something else positive to say about this mess....well, it does make some good use of music by The Eels, including making one of my favorite songs of theirs, 'Last Stop This Town' the movie's de facto theme song.

Overall...sometimes there's a really good reason why a film's theatrical release is cancelled and its DVD release is posponed. Sometines, it's just really, really bad, and no singular performance can save it.

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