April Fool's Day is, of course, the one day of the year when I don't try to
Imagine if Disney decided to remake an Italian cannibal film for a PG
audience. Now imagine that they decided to turn the whole thing into a spoof
with some cartoon Nazi villains and deadpan high-camp dialogue. Now suppose
they decided to add some genuine, heartfelt moments from time to time.
Can't really be done, can it? You can't do all of those things at once.
But comic book legend Frank Miller might try.
Writer/director Miller had no idea where to go with The Spirit, and it
really suffers from his inability to choose a path and stay on it. He could
have made it a gritty R-rated neo-noir like Sin City, which he wrote and
kinda-sorta co-directed with Robert Rodriguez. He could have made it a silly
kiddie movie like Batman and Robin, or an outright spoof like Dead Men Don't
Wear Plaid. He could have made it a tonally faithful adaptation of the comic's
presentation, ala Watchmen. He could have set it in the 1940s or the present
day. He chose "none of the above." He chose to follow no path at all, but
rather just to
wander aimlessly. The result is disastrous.
Miller did create some dramatic and interesting comic book frames when he was
picturing more abstract concepts like empty rooms and city streets, but he
just didn't know what to do when he had human beings interacting on camera. Of
course, the first thing you'll notice about the film is that it contains no
REAL human beings (except for one minor character). It is populated by jokey
stereotypes. The one-dimensional hero delivers mock heroic lines like "You're
a common criminal, and I'm takin' ya in," and the one-dimensional evil floozy
comes back with badinage like "There's nothing common about me, crimefighter."
Change the word "crimefighter" to "caped crusader," and I'll bet you will
picture Adam West and Julie Newmar. That's not the only thing in the film that
evokes the Adam West Batman show. Head baddie Samuel L Jackson rants and
postures just like Cesar Romero or Burgess Meredith used to do, and his
henchmen even wear shirts with their names on them! Worst of all, the
characters are allowed hammy close-ups and the camera often seems to be tilted
at an awkward angle.
Where are the balloons which say "pow" and "bam"?
But this is not your father's Batman. Just to show that forty years have
passed since Adam West's day, there is a little nudity, and a little
outrageous gore. Hey let's have some edge.
But not too much edge, because the film was determined to get the PG-13
Well, you just can't have a little of everything. You can't be Adam West's
Batman and Watchmen and Sin City. You have to point your ass in one direction
and stick to it. If you don't, you're stuck with something hideous and
mismatched, like a pimp driving an elevated Volvo station wagon with oversized spinning rims
and racing stripes.
Or like The Spirit.
The distributors had to idea how to market it, since it was part kiddie
movie, part gritty noir. They opted for the kiddie portion of the action and
opened it on Christmas Day in 2500 theaters. It bombed miserably against the
usual powerhouse Christmas line-up. It finished fifth among new releases, and
even lost to four of the carry-overs.
If such a thing is possible, critics liked it even less than Christmas
moviegoers. The score at Rotten Tomatoes was 14%.
Somehow, inexplicably, it did not receive any Razzie nominations! That kind
of surprises me, given that it was a high profile disaster, which is the kind
of movie the Razzies normally go for. It is every bit as bad, if not worse,
than The Love Guru or The Happening, which received plenty of tough love from
the Razzie team.
Anyway, does all that matter of Eva Mendes was naked?
If we saw this sort of nudity in a mixed-up Christmas Day PG-13 movie,
imagine what might have been on screen if Miller had chosen the Sin City path
and and stuck to it.
I'll have the high-def vids of Eva and others in tomorrow's edition. It is
taking me time to figure out how to make these high def clips from unfamiliar
sources. I was really hoping somebody else would do it, but I'll get it. In
the meantime, enjoy the collage. (Boy am I rusty. I haven't made one in a long