The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) Review

An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is yet another coming-of-age film, this time not brought to us by John Hughes, but instead by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky has taken his book and created a film that’s… different than the average teen movie. This is a coming of age film that reflects an entire years worth of growth, not a couple of days or random events. It departs from any semblance of a plot to show the arc of not just one character, but many. It shows real problems from a very specific perspective, and does so very seriously. It takes place not at the time it was released, but 15 years prior. All these things compound to create a film that stands out from its peers in its presentation, even if its themes and motifs are a mixture of Empire Records and The Breakfast Club.

The characters are all unique and easily attachable, partly because most of us have known people similar to them, but also because Chbosky takes advantage of every method he can to get you to like them and understand who they are. He uses snappy dialogue and even glorifying the two main supporting characters (Sam and Patrick) to get you to understand that they are awesome. This can be interpreted as a bad translation across mediums (which it is), but also as just Charlie’s perspective. He’s telling the story to us and since he saw them as these elite and special people, that’s how we see them. All the characters get quick simplistic introductions, either through exposition or key dialogue. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this, but for a character piece it could be considered a flaw. Any and all simplifications are easily compensated by the mostly strong and dynamic performances by the actors who all do their best to make their characters unique, even the purely cliché ones. The characters, particularly Charlie, are seemingly identifiable, because they would be in any other film, but this movie stands its ground and forces you to stop thinking of Charlie as the awkward kid that’s just like you were and instead as a person with his own severe problems. Odds are you won’t be able to identify with his life’s issues, as they are very specific and in fact all the characters here have rich white kid problems. That’s not to say that they don’t happen to other people, but if you’re not a middle class white person the chances of you identifying with these characters and their issues decreases drastically.

There is a years worth of story told here, which in a book is fine, but in a film requires more compression to get it into that 90 minute time slot. Perks picks up the pace by using mostly quick and snappy transitions to move between scenes that seem to have little correlation to each other. This actually works for the most part, as we understand the passage of time and the changes in the characters. These vignettes, for lack of a better term, that the film cuts between are merely presented, not really analyzed or gone into depth on. This is an unfortunate symptom of the compressed time, leaving you to do the analysis if you’re looking for anything more then reflection. Luckily the film knows this, and doesn’t try to do anything more then show you what’s going on. For the amount of plot it has to tell, Perks does a good job of getting that across. That is if you can call it a plot… Perks is more of a collage of different subplots, all with varying degrees of importance. The “main plot” is the romance between Charlie and Sam, but there are large chunks of the film that have little to do with that. This more aimless approach to traversing through a year may be off putting to some expecting a flat out “get to point B” plot or character arc.

The intertwining subplots are an attempt to show that every person has a story. That each student in the hallway and each fan in a crowd is a person with their own problems and own lives. Sometimes it takes a wallflower to see that or the forced clashing of people, like in The Breakfast Club. As I stated before, you have to be within a certain range of people to specifically identify with Charlie and his problems, but a lot of the themes and details surrounding Charlie are what are going to get you to attach to this movie. The concept of the past always affecting you is strongly represented by the Aunt Helen “subplot.” There are the usual high school tropes such as being an outsider, those cliché people that always pop up even in real life, and those school events that are all awkward. These are mainstays of the genre and emotional reaction is instinct, even if we understand how cliché they are. And of course, with all of these movies there’s the “getting away from it all.” Characters throwing away their problems for a carefree laugh with their friends. No past, no future, just a tunnel in-between the two where you are as big as you want to be, even infinite. That’s what being a teen is about. Facing that maturity of adult life and turning away from it, because fuck it you can.

Those internal feelings and experiences of what it’s like to be a teen, to go through high school, to leave high school, and all the times in-between are what make this movie special. It doesn’t hit every universal mark though. While its 90s setting does make it more timeless and cross-generational, it can be off-putting to the current generation who never had those big phones or even used a cassette. The more mature issues it tackles, such as mental illness, child abuse, and homophobia can be alienating as well to anyone whose life wasn’t as dramatic as that. A film like The Breakfast Club will work better on these people because the issues tackled are more basic, but Perks, when it hits home with its audience will surpass others because the issues are more intimate and thus, emotion-evoking.

On an exterior front it’s average because it’s appealing to a specific audience and its conflicted attempts to attract a larger one ultimately fail . On an interior level though, as a reflection (not an analysis, or a dissection, but a reflection) it succeeds better than any other film for its true audience. If you can identify with those feelings, if you knew people like that, if you’ve dealt with these issues then this will have the nostalgic and emotional power of every John Hughes film combined. I dealt with those issues, I felt that way, I knew people like that and I was that observer. Perks doesn’t hit every mark for me, but it hits enough that it pushes itself above the rest and makes the viewing experience one of the most powerful I’ve ever had. Watch it and figure it out for yourself, but if you find yourself discussing afterwards not the general themes, but instead whether or not it portrayed PTSD properly, then this movie wasn’t intended for you.

Lots ‘O’ Questions

1. First thing you wash in the shower?
My Skin
2. Are you more of a coffee or alcohol drinker?
3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?
Yes please
4. Do you plan outfits?
I do, depending on the occasion
5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?
6. Whats the closest thing to you thats red?
A red string around my wrist… and my hair
7. What would you do if you opened your door and saw a dead body?
Stare… get queasy, and then call the police
8. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?
ehhhhh… fringes of memory, nothing I could really put into words
9. Three of your current feelings?
Woah Deja Vu! Tired, Reflective, hungry
10. What are you craving right now?
Cereal and a certain somebody
11. Turn ons?
A certain somebody
12. Turn offs?
Guys… genocide… my parents
13. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?
A cabbage…
14. When was the last time you cried? Why?
A couple of days ago when I had to let out all my bottled up emotions over a certain someone
15. If you could be a superhero, who would you want to be?
The one that just did it part time
16. Did the one person who hurt you most in your life apologize?
No, and he doesn’t need to.
17. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?
Bite, licking is weird for some reason
18. Favorite movie ever?
O.O ummm… I run a movie/personal blog, a fav is hard to pick
19. Do you like yourself?
To an extant…
20. Have you ever met a celebrity?
Yes, but it depends on your definition of celebrity (Shout-outs to Dan Jurgens and Little Kuriboh and Linkara)
21. Could you handle being in the military?
22. What are you listening to right now?
Lost in the Static, a random topic podcast
23. How many countries have you visited?
24. Are your parents strict?
not particularly
25. Would you go sky diving?
26. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?
Yes, I would be interested to hear his perspective, not the media’s interpertation of his perspecitve
27. Whats on your mind right now?
These questions and politics
28. Is there anything you want to say to someone?
well… yeah
29. Have you ever been in a castle?
mmmmm nope, but I want to!
30. Do you rent movies often?
meh, more of a streamer
31. Whats your zodiac sign?
32. When was the last time you had sex?
33. Name five facts about yourself.
1. I’m alive 2. I’m eating cereal 3. I’m in love 4. I’m suck at LIFE 5. I wish that our government wasn’t so sodding stupid
34. Ever had a near death experience? If so, what happened?
Nope, not that dangerous of a life going on
35. Do you believe in karma or predestiny?
Mmmmmmm not sure, you know agnostic and all that
36. Brown or white eggs?
White! wait was that racist… nah jk
37. Do you own something from Hot Topic?
Whats hot Topic O.o
38. Ever been on a train?
Yep, it was trainy
39. Ever been in love?
Wellllllllllll I supppoooossssseee
40. If you were paid 1 million dollars to spend the night in a supposed haunted house, would you do it?
Yeah, if I was with some people
41. If you could trade places with any person living or dead, who would you trade places with?
… nah I’m good as me.
42. If you could shorten your life expectancy by 10 years to becopme more attractive, would you do it?
Hell no!
43. Whom do you admire and why?
Oh loads of people for their accomplishments, morals, etc…
44. What was your favorite bedtime story as a child?
ummmm ghost stories were a favorite of mine
45. You’re walking down the street, you come across a burning building. A woman says her baby is trapped inside, what would you do?
Get some help
46. If you could choose the future profession of your son or daughter, would you?
mmmm noooo, as tempting as it is to give them a high salary job, they should choose
47. What was your best experience on drugs or alcohol?
those times I wasn’t on them
48. What was your worst experience on drugs or alcohol?
Those times I was on them… oh wait I never did that
50. As your walking down the street you find a suitcase full of money sitting next to a parked car, would you take it?
No I would prolly leave it there, since it’s prolly drug money
51. If you found that a close friend has AIDS, would you still hang out with them?
Why wouldn’t I?
52. In front of you are 10 pistols, 5 of which are loaded. If you survive you’d receive 100 million dollars. Would you be willing to place 1 to your head and pull the trigger?
No, give me better odds and… nah I still wouldn’t
53. How old were you when you lost your virginity?
ummmmm 45
54. Do you believe in ghosts, werewolves or vampires?
In one universe or another they all exist
55. If you could live forever, would you want to?
No I wouldn’t want to see my loved ones die and the world go to shit
56. Which fictional movie character most resembles who you are?
The Death Bed
57. If you could go back in time, which time period would you visit?
1940s Hollywood
58. If they were to televise a live execution, would you watch it?
NO! That’s sick
59. If you could be the president of the USA, would you be willing to do it?
haha noooooo
60. If you could choose the sex of your unborn child, would you want to?
Mmmmmmm maybe, if I already had one
61. Would you rather live longer or be wealthy?
Live Longer, because afraid of death and all death

Devil Times Five (1974) Review

I love the LA times quote, I'm pretty sure it's for a different movie
Five extremely disturbed, sociopathic children escape from their psychiatric transport and are taken in unwittingly by a group of adult villagers on winter vacation.

The Devil Times Five or Peopletoys as it was originally called is a low budget, very indy horror film from 1974. It stars… no one. Is directed by… no one special… and has a legacy of… being a low budget indy horror film from 1974. And sucking. Ah yes, The Devil Times Five does indeed suck, mostly due to its amateur filmmaking. Now I’ve dealt with amateur film makers before, in my video review of The Legend of Sorrow Creek, but I wasn’t as fair to it as I should have been. It was the first directing and writing job of Michael Penning, so some tolerance should be given. I was planning on giving the same fairness to this film’s director, Sean MacGregor, but then I discovered that this was his third movie as a director, and that he had done both writing and acting for quite a few years before this. And yet he some how managed to make a movie that makes Chain Letter look like fucking Citizen Kane!

The technicals in this film are a nightmare, with too many visual and audio mistakes and continuity slip-ups to count. Just the very camerawork itself screams basic film school, with different takes noticeable to a snob like me. While the average viewer won’t notice that, what they will notice is the almost constant snow on the lens whenever they’re outside! The special effects are… nonexistent, with the exception of a rather good fire stunt. The rest of the kills are fairly bland, most of which being impossibly intelligent, but unique traps. To compensate for his $0 budget, MacGregor uses different camera “tricks” to little effect. Such as putting the footage in slow motion, in order to create a “surreal effect” that will somehow convince us that the beating the victim is getting is real. However, it clearly wasn’t shot for slow motion so we get a choppy mess for wayyyy too long as the kids spend minutes wailing on this guy, who’s identity is only properly explained after he’s dead. Another kill uses a freeze frame and slow motion to get away with an axe to the back of the head, almost making you think it’s the end of a 80s sitcom. The audio work is not terrible, but it’s quality overall is fairly low, leading to you having an even harder time understanding what’s going on.

The acting is, big shocker, a fucking nightmare. The adults either over or underact, all the while being generally unlikeable. Shoutout goes out to the actor who did a good job as Lenny from Of Mice and Men, I mean the housekeeper. The kids do an occasionally good job coming across as psychotic, but the majority of the time they are just obnoxious little shits. Speaking of the child actors… they do a lot of fairly traumatizing stuff for kids that these days a filmmaker might not be able to get away with. They see someone on fire, they swear, one of them cross dresses, they hold guns, the list goes on. I know it’s a weird, but if you are dumb enough to watch this film after reading this review, imagine doing that stuff as a kid and you’ll see what I mean.

The writing is probably the second worst part of this movie, because it wouldn’t be as bad as it was if the technicals could back it up. The pacing of this movie is all over the place, with scenes going incredibly slowly or just being completely superfluous. This is usually almost immediately compensated by a huge time skip, leaving us confused as to what just happened and it takes a good while to catch up. That’s something you’ll do a lot of with this movie, catch up. It’s hard to follow, as the nonsensical dialogue teams up with the aforementioned issues to confuse the crap out of you if you stop paying attention for a few seconds. The beginning was the worst example of this. I must have missed some dialogue in the first scene, because the lack of basic exposition on the characters and their relationships, coupled with the dialogue and awkward scene transitions, had me confused for a half an hour. Even if you do pay attention to the story, there’s not much to actually derive from it. It’s a fairly simple movie, perpetuated by genius children and outright stupid adults to keep the plot going. Actually, if this movie were any complex, odds are I wouldn’t have been able to follow it at all, so maybe simplicity is for the best.

The Devil Times Five is… a movie. It’s not that much fun to watch, even for its weird premise. It’s a dull movie at its best and a confusing movie at its worst. It may or may not be nunsploitation, but it definitely is childsploitation. The credits of this movie say it all. Instead of “The End” it says “The Beginning” displaying its stupid and cheesy nature and the extremely short crew list show how lacking this movie is, not just in budget, but in skillful filmmaking. If you really want to waste your time on a cheesy low budget 70s horror film, then do yourself a favor. Skip this waste of time and go see Death Bed: The Bed That Eats instead. You may or may not thank me later. You know, if you think Death Bed sounds like an interesting watch, or you’ve seen it, then you might as well give this a watch since you’re prolly the kinda person that would like this kind of movie and appreciate it’s offbeat crappy horror style.

Wake Wood (2010) Review

The parents of a girl who was killed by a savage dog are granted the opportunity to spend three days with their deceased daughter

Sometimes the biggest detractor from a movie is not its flaws, but its lack of strengths. Wake Wood falls victim to this in the biggest of ways. This is a clearly low-budget production and it’s well made considering that, however the lackluster nature of pretty much everything in this movie prevents it from rising above what people would normally expect from a low budget horror movie.

The acting is fair, even if we don’t care much for the characters. A stand out performance is Wormtail as the leader of the Wakewood cult as well as the little girl, who while stoic, is a good child actor. The movie manages to create enough atmosphere and use odd sets and angles to occasionally get you to feel a touch uncomfortable. The effects are okay, even if there’s not much there. Again, everything technical in this movie is, to an extent, fair.

Where this movie fails is its complete failure to do… anything… to make you interested or scared. The film’s borrowed plot from Pet Semetary is barely accentuated, just replacing an unexplained force with a cult using an unexplained force. The girl has a ticking clock to evil from the beginning, so when the movie’s transition into such isn’t subtle we know exactly what’s going on. There are so many caveats to the rules that defeating this zombie should be easy, so when it comes time to climax we’re faced with a solution we say from a mile away. There are lots of little inconsistencies that perforate this movie, leading me to give even less of a shit about what’s going on. The film does have, to its credit, a lot of strangeness. Little details and twists throughout this movie that do make it unique, but not enough to be special (if that makes any sense). The strange-ass ending should be noted as it’s a wonderful homage to the 70s british horror movies this film is trying to emulate.

Overall Wake Wood is worth your time if a) You’re a fan of 70s british horror b) You’re okay with low budget movies and c) You’ve never seen Pet Semetary. Other then that I’m afraid that this movie just doesn’t due enough to justify the time, even if it’s not an all out bad movie.

Chain Letter (2010) Review

A maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain

In an attempt to come up with a horror movie that would actually scare this generation, I stumbled across the concept of using our technology against us. The idea of being hounded or even abandoned by this crutch of life would, if played right, make for some good scares or at least a thought provoking story. Deon Taylor, director of Chain Letter, has taken this concept and twisted into an old man’s rant at teens for their “new-fangled technobizzy” then proceeded to shit all over it and smash it to a pulp not unlike how I want this film to look after I get my hands on it. Chain Letter is a poorly made, mean-spirited mess of a movie that fails to live up to its pretentious message.

Now for being a 2010 low budget horror film called Chain Letter one should not expect the acting to be good or the characters developed. And believe me, expectations are met, however one would expect that the teenagers would look less like they were fresh out of college and more like they are oh… I don’t know… high school students! The accentuated racks on these “girls” are only rivaled by those in High School of the Dead and the men have facial hair that should be in an Old Spice commercial. The characters are… big shocker… fucking obnoxious! It’s that annoying cliché that has continued to survive through this decade where we refuse to develop people we actually care about and rather have targets that we can enjoy seeing getting slaughtered. The writers and directors always seem to forget that we have to spend a whole movie with these people, and the best they can offer in compensation is someone so bland they leave no impression at all, rather then a bad one. The movie is adequately made, but its more artistic flairs are all annoying. The overuse of chains. The overly long title sequence. That’s used twice. Seizure inducing cutaways that in a TV show would signal a commercial break. Special effects that awkwardly alternate between goofy and grotesque. These continually failed attempts to be stylistic end up getting no more of a reaction then a raised eyebrow and a disgruntled sigh.

Where this film ultimately and truly fails is the writing, both in the plotting and its message. Taylor seems to be using the anti-technology motivations of the killer not to satirically promote technology or provide a cautionary tale, but rather as a scorning of the current generation for being so arrogant. This mean-spiritedness, whether it was intended or not, is interwoven throughout and as a member of that generation I was taken out of the movie by it. I don’t needed to be ranted at that I’ve lost so much privacy and that I’m trusting the internet too much and that I can be tracked with my phone and that every bit of personal data could be stolen by a hacker. I’m aware of the consequences of my actions on the internet and a good chunk of my generation are too. Don’t get me wrong there are still plenty of people who act like complete assholes on the internet or bully or what-have-you, but they at least know that hey, I could get hacked. The idiocy of all the characters that “abuse” technology and the outstanding cleverness of those who don’t (yet do since they use it to start the chain letter) is a marked indicator of this, but odds are I’m just reading too much into amateur writing.

I dislike my generation, but to see us represented by a director who has no idea how teenagers act is weirdly insulting. The concept of a video game lounge, studying at an arcade and two girls calling each other “slut” and “bitch” are all the exceptions, not the rule when it comes to any generation, not just ours. We’re not all spoiled rich kids, and for someone who “is up to date on the state of technology” you would think that he would notice that it’s actually the opposite with the state of the economy. If it weren’t for these grandiose claims about technology and generalizations that are made, I wouldn’t care about any of this stuff but, like plot holes, you notice these things when the movie can’t get you to be immersed in it. In fact the very premise of how the killer operates seems nonsensical, after all how is it that those who blindly follow technology and just forward chain mail are those worthy to live? And as for surviving the email, why wouldn’t you just forward the chain mail to people in a foreign country? The killer’s not there now is he? But nooooo that would be far too much logic for these idiotic characters and this idiotic movie.

Chain Letter is not worth your time, unless you feel like being condescended to by a toddler. The pretentiousness required by a filmmaker to put a Nietzsche quote before their low budget email slasher movie is ridiculous. The plot is inadequate, requiring complete stupidity from characters to push it along. Luckily there’s a large supply of that thanks to the either boring or obnoxious over-age cast. The message is convoluted, exploiting serious issues in today’s society just so it can shit all over them. Don’t watch this, and don’t let your friends watch this, it’s not even riffable and for a slasher film, that’s saying a lot.

Christina’s House (1999) Review

Christina Tarling (Allison Lange) is a teenage girl who lives with her unstable father James (John Savage) and her younger brother Bobby (Lorne Stewart) in the family’s new home. While Christina is trying to sort out her feelings for both Eddie (Brendan Fehr), her boyfriend, and Howie (Brad Rowe), a handyman she’s become infatuated with, she soon discovers she has bigger fish to fry: there is a stranger in the house who begins leaving messages and gifts for Christina — and who isn’t averse to the idea of killing people in order to make an

Christina’s House is a VHS I found at a second hand store for 40 cents. The back stated that its plot twists were shocking. Having been burned by Shyamalan and enraged by other shitty teen movies, I figured that this was ripe for the riffing. And ooooohhhh my it was. Christina’s House was delectably bad, with nonsensical story-telling, terrible acting, and… just plain weirdness. It’s not terrible like Dick Tracy where it enrages you because it’s terrible nature comes from how unfunny it is, but rather this film is fun for all from beginning to end because it’s bad moments hit all the right notes.

The movie centers around Christina (big shocker) who’s a whiny teenager with a dumbass younger brother, an horny asshole boyfriend, a creepy father, a ditzy best friend and a shy handyman. Weird things happen in Christina’s house, such as loud noises, random visits from her boyfriend and the inability of anybody to approach her without grabbing her from behind. The movie’s plot isn’t exactly the strongest, with those so called plot twists being just random events that Christina puzzles over while her boyfriend and dad fight over her. The appearance of a dead body means that shit gets real… sort of. The killer is revealed an hour later, but it’s really not a surprise and… well we stopped caring by that point. The movie really does just meander along, hiding so much from us that it doesn’t end up showing us anything and instead just lets us chill with the red herrings. If anything does happen, it’s because the characters acted even more stupid then they already are or the movie just said “fuck it” and screwed both continuity and logic. The killer’s reveal at the end makes no goddamn sense, with none of the kills or strangeness being explained by it.

The killer (who I won’t spoil out of courtesy) is brilliantly acted, not because it’s good, but because it’s sooooo weird. It makes no sense, but the killer’s ramblings and inconsistent behavior are a ball to watch. The rest of the acting is, of course, shit, but also shitty to a degree that made me wonder why they didn’t do another take. It makes me cringe to think those were the best. That being said, all of the performances stand out for being, again, so weird. The dad in particular is so borderline incestual, so much so that your brain is yelling “Bad Touch!!” whenever he starts to pet her. The boyfriend is a complete asshole and throughout the whole movie is fighting Christina on having sex. It makes you wonder why there a couple in the first place if they disagree on such a key issue and have nothing else in common. Sure the actors aren’t good, but the director clearly didn’t know what he was doing, as even the experienced actors can’t get their shit together.

The movie takes itself way too seriously, trying to pass little noises as huge events and characters freaking out over little things and doing random shit as if it was… well logical. To be at least partially fair to the writing, there are some points where there are clear cuts to the movie, and if those scenes had been left in, maybe some of the nonsense could have been… slightly less nonsensical. Character interactions might have been a little clearer and plot holes might have been solved. That’s not to say you won’t be able to follow along, rather it just means you’ll have a couple things to raise an eyebrow at. Christina’s House suffers from the post-Scream syndrome, where horror movies stopped being horror and became thrillers, and this is a detriment to it. If it had more gore and a better designed slasher finale, then this movie could have become a cult favorite. Instead it relies on plot twists that make no sense and a mystery it gives no clues for and doesn’t give a shit about until the finale.

Christina’s House is nowhere close to a good movie; in fact some could call it a bad one. It comes down to the clearly amateur filmmaking, as I got the same vibe from this as I did Devour. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it. If you’re tired of watching Final Destination 5 for all your horror movie giggles, then give this a viewing. It’s a film you should definitely watch with a few companions, because you will make jokes. Its just gonna happen. If you can find this movie then buy it, because it’s b-movie badness at its best.

Dick Tracy (1990) Review

The comic strip detective finds his life vastly complicated when Breathless Mahoney makes advances towards him while he is trying to battle Big Boy Caprice’s united mob.-imdb

Dick Tracy is the comic-strip based action flick that attempts to throw a goofy flair to itself. The comic strip style is translated directly to this film through many technical marvels that make this film a unique piece to look at, but not necessarily one to watch. It’s all-star cast, over the top visuals and campy yet serious writing all give off the vibe of a similar adaptation: Batman and Robin. Yes it’s eerie how similar the flaws in these two movies line up, the first and foremost being the convoluted tone.

Dick Tracy takes the comic-strip origins literally… and at the same time comically. It makes fun of the cliches of the comic, or goes for over the top goofy, but then the next minute expects you to take it seriously with the visuals or even the story. They try their hardest to make the universe look real, using shots that are impossible to get without complex green screening or intricate models. The colors of the costumes, sets and lighting are all vibrant, and coupled with the Elfman music it’s quite epic. Prosthetics are applied to all the actors portraying bad guys in order to make them look like their strip counterparts, but instead of immersing you in the Tracy-verse, it instead instills disgust as they look utterly hideous. It takes a long time to get used to it, and even then you’re never comfortable with it. They must have known how ugly it looked, because otherwise Warren Beatty would have had a chiseled chin glued on to fit the role. The sets, the costumes, the colors, are all taken so literally, but they expect you to laugh at how the villains look, or laugh at how loony Dick Tracy’s hunches are? Now to be fair, this could have worked in a more Airplanesque way, where they play it straight all the time, but they don’t, instead pointing out what you should laugh at. I could go on with contrast after contrast, but I think only one more example needs to be given. Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy plays him straight. Not as an overly confident superhero or an overly gritty detective, but as an almost human version of Dick Tracy. I say almost because the only time he shows personality is when the plot (or rather subplots) demand it. This serious Tracy against rubber bad guys is… odd. Like a semi-serious Batman facing off against a pun-spewing austrian while wearing a rubber suit… oh wait.

So while the writers and directors can’t seem to decide on a tone, it seems they also can’t seem to decide on a plot. The film has so many different subplots and such an unfocused main plot that when you look back at what’s happened you ask “why?” Entire scenes just seem pointless, and if they were removed it would make about as much sense as the rest of this movie since there are so many plot holes and leaps of logic that one more won’t harm it.There seems to be so much going on in the main plot that needs to be fleshed out, but if it was it would be a trilogy of movies. It almost feels like several tv episodes smashed together, but despite this the film still on occasion will careen to a stop to focus on one of the ridiculously predictable subplots and then compensate the actual plot’s screentime with a shitty montage that is never put to the right music, even ironically. It should be noted that the events of one of these montages could take up half a Burton or Scorsese film, but Beaty needs to keep trucking along. After some researching I found this movie was in development for 15 years, and then once it got into filming it had it’s shooting script combined with the novelization to fix the plot holes. Imagine what the script was like beforehand.

Even if you actually bother to pay attention to the convoluted shit on screen, there’s no way you can care about it. The actors never pull off a portrayal that can convince you to actually care about them because the material is just not there. Even one of the more tragic characters, played by Madonna, comes off as just stoic for half of the film and then overly dramatic for the last half. It’s either overacting or underacting, there is no middle ground for anyone, with the exception of the diner guy. He was cool. The dialogue is not convincing, interesting, or even seem to have a point to it. They repeat things too much and some characters NEVER SHUT UP. They go on and on and on and you want to pull your ears off. Most of the characters have little motivation or just pull 180 flips when needed. The kid goes from being an obnoxious little shit to being the bestest sidekick ever. Madonna loves Tracy because…??? Tess loves Tracy because…??? If they were attempting to portray the rather stilted strip dialogue or rushed character interactions, then they fail to understand that film and comic strips are not the same medium. A straight adaptation of Dick Tracy doesn’t work the same way a straight adaptation of The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit and The Shining wouldn’t and doesn’t work.

Dick Tracy provides you with enough action and visual appeal to get you through it IF you can get past the dialogue, the characters, and the looooonnnnng ass plot that either moves too fast or too slow. But the odds of that are pretty slim. My recommendation is to instead go to your local library and check out The Complete Dick Tracy volumes. They feature both the weekly and sunday strips and can actually be quite entertaining. As for this movie, it can sit next to Batman and Robin as it’s more obnoxious, but definitely more beautiful cousin.