Friday, October 22, 2010
IDLE HANDS (1999)
Cast: Devon Sawa, Eldon Henson, Seth Green, Jessica Alba, Fred Willard, Jack Noseworthy, Vivica A. Fox, Connie Ray, Timothy Stack, Kelly Monaco, Joey Slotnick, Mindy Sterling, Katie Wright, The Offspring
Director: Rodman Flender
Written by: Terri Hughes & Ron Milbauer
Cinematography: Christopher Balla
Casting By: John Papsidera
Edited By: Stephen E. Rivkin
Production Design: Greg Melton
The only thing that saves this film is Jessica Alba. Not her acting ability of which there is little but for the most obvious reason she was cast her attractiveness. So if you have a huge thing (Crush Please!) for her this is your film. This film is a let down becasue of the numerous opportunities this film had to be good. If not great. i mean look at the premise a teenager whose lest hand only is posessed. he is haunted by his best friends who were too lazy to go up the stairs to heaven (shades of an american werewolf in london)
Perhaps the reason behind the film's financial failure is due to the fact that it was released ten days following the Columbine High School massacre.
The jokes and situations could have written themselves. but i guess the people behind this project had little money and few ideas. you know other then throw jessica alba into as many low cut outfits as possible. Not that i'm complaining too much about that. If that is all you have it's pretty sad (Don't get me started on the film "Honey" but she's put to better use in this. In that film they actually expect her to act!!!)
The 2 main problems with this film is it can't decide wether it wants to be a comedy or a horror film. I am a fan of comedy/Horror when they co-exist harmoniously but in this film they seem to be battling each other to the death for supreme leadership. Though neither is the victor. The film will have a purely comedic scene the end it in a very dark place. Which comes out of nowhere.
The other problem is the director. Rodman Flender wants to pay homage to other classic horror directors like Dario Argento, John Carpenter and Wes Craven but the thing is those directors know what they are doing they were original and have talent. I'm not saying he doesn't, but in what i have no idea. Maybe he's an excellent cameraman or basket waever maybe with this little film he was in over his head. Maybe a good tv-movie was more up his alley. with this film he also seems to not only be able to decide if it's a comedy or horror but then he also tried to make a teen movie here but he wasn't sure what he could get away with in terms of sex and/or violence.
Since this came on the heels of "Scream". It seemed to be a testing ground of ideas. where in some scenes there is little violence then all of a sudden gore galore. This film just seems to have an identity crisis. It wants to be all things to all people. but they seemed to stay away. I'm still trying to figure out how a single hand with no weapon or sharp objects kills someone and massacres them so bad there is splattered blood. the film may have been saved also if instead of this film going so fast to the end with practical non-stop action. if they would hae padded out the story with more details and victims. it would seem like te film had more substance. As it is now it's like a highlight reel where there are few highlights to actually show. The only person who comes away from the film unscathed is seth green and his partner in crime eldon henson. they are hilarious and seem to be having fun.
There were rumors when this film was being developed it was going to be a musical with songs by danny elfman and directed by his brother Cult director Richard Elfman (Shrunken Heads, Forbidden Zone, Modern Vampires) Now that would have been a film worth seeing that would be different not necessarily good but i guarantee it would have been a cult film if it bombed.
While garishly colorful. The film is directed without the flair it deserves as it can never truly identify itself as fully comedy or with all the fire a full horror. So that rack maneuvers around each other awkwardly when they mix. It has confidence, though is struggling with it's identity. Leaving us with results that are never as strong as they should be and seems to settle only for what works and is passable.
The camera ogles Jessica Alba's body and at times almost feels like it molests it. It does the same with vivica A. Fox. Yet she seems to expect it and knows how to handle it. This is the first film where you really take notice of Jessica Alba. As at the time his was one of her biggest roles to date. She sure is pretty in this film, they doesn't ask much from her. Except to be the eye candy. Yet the film makes itself come off as smarmy anytime there is any scene with her in it.
I wish I could say the film is wholly original, it's a bit derivative while trying to be an homage to certain other films, but it has fun with it's premise and runs with it. Which is pretty much a knock off of a plot point from EVIL DEAD 2, as well as THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Only here transferred to a teen cornet with gruesome horror elements.
If you let yourself go with it. The film can be entertaining and even good in some scenes. Until something bad corns along and interrupts the flow. Taking awhile for it to catch up and pick up on the beat.
Devon Sawa throws himself whole heartedly into the lead role, literally. Which mainly tasks him
Devon Sawa's character name is Anton, which is the same name as the founder of the Church of Satan.
Seth Green and Eldon Henson are truly the best things in the movie as a zombie comedic Greek chorus. Who are Initially his victims and best friends. Who end up coming back to help him
Out of his predicament.
Both Eldon Henson's and Seth Green's character names (Mick & Pnub) are based on the SNL skit where Eddie Murphy played an illiterate character named Buckwheat, who sang popular (at the time) songs in a way that he wasn't understood half the time. In one skit, he sings the song "Lookin' for Love" and sings "Wookin' pa nub in a da wong paces..." It can be heard on the commentary that both Mick's and Pnub's names are based on this skit. (If you say "Mick & Pnub" quickly it almost sounds exactly alike.)
When Anton kills the two police officers, Pnub shouts out "Go, go Buffalo". This is a reference to a deleted scene in which Anton remembers the two police officers as "the head and ass of the school mascot, Go, go Buffalo"
The film is macabre, but mainstream as it came at a time When teen horror still was in fashion. Though this film makes the extremes strange bed fellows.
The rock band THE OFFSPRING. Who were popular at the time. Cameo as a band playing at the school dance. Which should give you a hint of the intended audience. Their song at the time "PRETTY FLY FOR A WHITE GUY" was used heavily for the trailers and other advertisement for the film. It's ironic that the theme song could be the theme music for Seth green's character in another teen movie released around the same time CAN'T HARDLY WAIT.
The film seems to feel small scale but hints at bigger ideas that feel like they were across to go with as far as they could.
I remember being excited when this film was released and played at the movie theater I worked at and most audiences who saw it really seemed to like as it doesn't ask for much. Nor give too much. I enjoyed it the first time I watched it. Though I believe I was running on fumes from the excitement of finally seeing it. on subsequent viewings. I got more and more disappointed as I remember it being better. From a certain point I began to dissect and observe what I felt was wrong with the film.( I have had the same feeling when it comes to the film JAWBREAKER.)
As more and more the film felt insulting. I have come to peace with it as now I find the film lightweight, not very strong as it doesn't pack a punch and while I remember the film vividly it is ultimately disposable. A film I would nominate for a reimagining to smooth over elements and make a worthwhile project. Not that it promises more.
As anonymous as the direction is. If it had a more skilled hand and visual director behind the scenes of the film. This might have been able to be something noteworthy. As it stands now the direction just seems unfocused and distracted as it seems busy setting up the next scene. Instead of paying attention to the scene it is currently in.
I will admit one of the major reasons and strengths of me wanting to see the film is Jessica alba. At the time after seeing her in the TV update of FLIPPER: THE NEW ADVENTURES. I had been a fan and now this chance to see her on the big screen in a co-starring role. not as supporting background roles like on NEVER BEEN KISSED and CAMP NOWHERE. Here she is beautiful and does what the role requests.
Not as bad as she can be in some of her future performances in some films. As it seems most of her roles are more based on her looks and she easily became kind of typecast. Though she will pop up in a role against type. Not too much though. She rarely seems to take the challenging role. That might be less infatuated with her looks, but it has gotten her by so far. Now as her personal fortune seems to have taken off for the better based on her business dealings. She seems to appear less and less on the big screen. She isn't bad she just leaves a lot to be desired. Though her beauty speaks for itself and leads her to be a screen goddess (on the same Level of a Jennifer Lopez, who to me is one of the most if not the most beautiful woman and on screen icon in the world. So that is a high praise for me) while she has played a bunch of sexy risks it's disappointing, mildly that she never found that right role that perfectly showcases and defines her appeal and talent.
It seems like they went with an idea and just made stuff up on the spot almost
Vivica fox gives an energetic performance in a role ther could have been a franchise as a lighter and fun of amBuffy the vampire slayer type only more knowledgeable.
I believe I might be bias a bit against this film as I expected more as it has so much potential and it just seems to settle for mediocrity. When it might have been able to be sharp and great.
The film at least acknowledges teenage libidos and also having a showcase nude scene that while not extravagant and treats more matter of factly instead of glorious. It makes one nostalgic of 89's horror hallmarks of old. In fact it feels like an 80's horror in 90's packaging.
The film does manage to achieve creepiness at times, but quickly fizzled out.
The film seems more focused on comedy with horror elements. Tons of physical comedy performed mostly by lead Devon Sawa even when not needed making his performance seem more flamboyant even when he film isn't.
Though feels more like a teen extended riff on EVIL DEAD 2. Which means it seems like a slapstick violent version of the three stooges. Only with more permanent damage from violence. Not as original, surely a great comparison into letting the id takeover and letting your libido. Drag you around and do your thinking for you, becoming a slave to it virtually.
Becoming a hero once castrated/dismembered and able to think for yourself. Clearly though without it, no telling if he would have been brave enough to do the obstacles he did to win the girl.
Not the smartest hero, that is at least a different presentation a stoner so he seems like he is winging it Half of the time. Especially as weed helps save the day.
The film is bad but a guilty pleasure of mine. That I know i should know better then to enjoy,but it is a constant reminder of that time period and could have been ideas.one of the first films I looked at and notes where it could be changed for the better. Leading to a sequel treatment of my own.
His best friends represent a Greek chorus as living dead victims of Anton. Think Griffin Dunne AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
This is one of those films that feels like a wasted opportunity. Though many find it enjoyable the way it is.
It was part of the era where not only teen films were making a comeback, but also horror films and if you could mix the two the studio saw nothing but financial futures. So this one while sloppy also had he requisite post-modern, self conscious and snarky attitude when it came to itself. It also was a stoner film on the low.