Cinema Epoch // 2007 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // December 19th, 2008
Nice guys do finish last.
Taking gender warfare to a whole new level, writer/co-director Marc Clebanoff's Pink Conspiracy is disappointing, not because it's awful, but because it fails to deliver on some legitimately interesting ideas.
Dave (Bradley Snedeker) is afraid that his girlfriend, Jamie (Mercedes McNab, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is cheating on him, so one night he follows her to a mysterious house, where he happens upon a meeting of a cabal of ex-girlfriends all plotting to destroy his life. Can Dave unravel the plot before time runs out, or will he fall victim to the global female conspiracy?
Pink Conspiracy is a flawed movie, and flawed movies are usually easy to dismiss. Conspiracy's premise is compelling enough, which makes its myriad problems all the more frustrating. Even with a low budget and inexperienced actors, this certainly could have been an entertaining movie, if not a good one. By not deciding what kind of film it wants to be -- comedy, thriller, drama, satire -- it squanders an opportunity to say something worth hearing about male-female relationships.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should be clear: Pink Conspiracy's premise isn't revolutionary. But it is pretty unique. What male hasn't marveled at the complexities of the female mind? Wouldn't it be great to get inside information from the world of women, if only to avoid the next argument over Monday poker night? Maybe not, if it turned out that all the miscommunication and hurt feelings were the direct result of a global female conspiracy to baffle and ultimately subjugate all men.
I'm a guy, so I like movies about conspiracies, and battles, and people getting hit in the face. I'm not all that complicated. I liked the parts of The Pink Conspiracy's plot that build the mythology of a secret order bent on world domination. Unfortunately, that chunk of narrative isn't all that carefully thought out. Motivations are unclear, timelines don't make sense, and in the end it feels like the whole "conspiracy" is just an excuse to take a cheap shot at women while justifying bad male behavior.
The way The Pink Conspiracy exaggerates the bitchiness of women for the sake of satire is understandable, but it's also borderline misogynist. What personal responsibility does Dave have for his bad behavior? None, thanks to a plot that stretches back to before he was born. He has a moment or two of self-reflective clarity, but Dave is clearly the victim. The tagline on the DVD case proclaims "nice guys do finish last." I guess they mean a nice guy who cheats on his girlfriend because he was "forced" into a vulnerable position by a gaggle of scheming women. And what do those cold-hearted women do when he comes bearing flowers and memories of the true feelings he had for each of them? They melt and start fighting over him. The most disturbing thing about this movie isn't the possibility that women are secretly trying to destroy men; it's that someone actually thought something this sexist was funny. Clebanoff may very well believe his jabs at the fairer sex are all in good fun, but, as the old saying goes, "many a truth is spoken in jest."
The brightest spot in this movie is lead actor Bradley Snedeker. For the most part, the film's performances range from good to god-awful, but Snedaker shows real star quality in a way that defies the worst lines he has to read. He's charming and handsome, and should be playing better parts than this or "Off-Duty Cop #2" (as he did in a recent episode of Life).
It's probably not fair to hold an independent movie like this to the same audio-visual standards as a big studio release, but even so, this disc is disappointing. The jazz soundtrack is cool, but the dialogue audio is inconsistent at best. Ambient noise appears or disappears from shot to shot. Volume levels rise and fall. I can accept that. What I can't accept is a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer this late in the DVD game.
There's every chance I'm taking this movie too seriously. I doubt Marc Clebanoff set out to make an offensive movie. I doubt he, or anyone else who worked on it, thinks it is. Like I said up top, The Pink Conspiracy has some interesting ideas. It also has some funny jokes, colorful characters, and genuine insights about male-female relations. There just aren't enough to offset the scattershot script.
I give Cinema Epoch points for putting together a decent slate of extras. The 18-minute making-of featurette doesn't have any groundbreaking revelations, but it does give Clebanoff and cast a chance to explain their love for the project. Their enthusiasm actually made me wonder whether I'd missed something the first time around. The best extra is the original short film -- made when Clebanoff was a student at USC -- on which he based the feature-length version. In some ways, the idea works better as a short piece, though it is fun to compare this version to the final movie. It's not like dissecting a Hitchcock film, but it's a look into the filmmaking process. The bonus features round out with a trailer and a gallery of stills.
The Pink Conspiracy feels like the work of a first-time filmmaker who shows promise. Wherever you fall on the sexism-or-satire question, there are almost enough fresh ideas to recommend to people looking for something off the well-beaten studio path. Almost.
Sorry to do this to ya, bro. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* 1.66:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Behind the Scenes
* "Conspiracy" (Short)
* Still Gallery