Sony // 1997 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Dean Roddey (Retired) // October 16th, 1999
The feel bad movie of the year.
Definitely one of the "guy'est" guy flicks of all time, some people called it the feel bad movie of the year when it debuted, because its one of the most brutal portrayals of the misogynistic modern male ever set to film. Despite being a male type unit, I loved it even though it casts a pretty bad glow on my side of the species.
This basic plot line is that two guys, sent out on an extended business trip to a newly set up company site to guide the process, decide to have a little revenge on women in general. The plan is to find the most fragile, needy woman at the new site and play her like a sap at the annual violin convention, or is it a violin at the annual sap's convention? Anyway, they arrange to battle for her affections and build her up from her complete social dysfunctionality, then pull the plug as brutally as possible. To make things doubly brutal, the woman they end up choosing is deaf as well.
The story has a number of twists that make it far more redeeming than this description would indicate; however, giving them away here would ruin the experience for you. The viewer is purposefully given lots of conflicting hints about how the triangle is developing that build up well to a nice surprise ending.
There are no big name stars in this film, which I think is a good thing in this case. The heroine in this case is played by Stacy Edwards, who is in fact not deaf at all but does an amazing job of acting so. She plays the role well as a mousy and extremely self-conscious woman ripe for the kind of abuse that the men have planned for her. Her perfect sweetness and naïveté makes their plan all the more disgusting.
The film has an interesting look. According to one of the commentaries, it was originally filmed with the assumption that it would be printed as a black and white. However, somewhere along the way this decision was changed and it remained color. However, the film stock used was somewhat unusual I guess, in that its color characteristics were not originally going to matter. The result is a quite saturated look that I think comes across rather well though somewhat muted.
There are two commentary tracks, one from the filmmakers themselves and one from the actors of the primary roles. Both are well done in my opinion, and I really do appreciate a good commentary track.
There is not a 5.1 audio track, but since its a complete talky this is not really a big deal. The audio is not of terribly high quality, but its clear enough to understand the dialogue.
Due to the film issues mentioned above, some of the scenes are somewhat dark and shadowy which might give particular displays more trouble than others. The transfer is not super high quality but its good enough to get the job done.
Yes, men probably are scum and I guess we're proud enough of it to capture it on film for posterity. Women will probably put this one more in the horror or documentary genres I would imagine, but I think that they could enjoy watching it even if only to have their fears validated. The situation is approached with enough intelligence and care that it never descends into a farce or meaningless brutality. And, given the twists in the plot, its not always obvious where evil lurks at any particular time.
Definitely this one is acquitted. I feel that this film is representative of the kind of intelligent story telling that we need more of. Don't get me wrong, I like something to blow up once in a while to be sure the surrounds are still in phase, but I also like a story line now and again. And this film I think provides that kind of human story appeal. It might not be a great date movie, but if you're already married then she knows you're a bum anyway so go for it.
I'm sure that this film will get widely varying reviews because it will repulse many people, particularly those who don't distinguish between portraying something and advocating it.
Review content copyright © 1999 Dean Roddey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Commentary Track
* Theatrical Trailer