Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Cecil B. Demented" (2000)

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Movie"Cecil B. Demented"
Director: John Waters
Year: 2000
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

A group of underground filmmakers, led by a crazy director named Cecil B. Demented (Stephen Dorff), kidnaps Hollywood A-list actress Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) and forces her to star in their film. This film is one they are so passionate about, they are willing to die and kill to get it made. 

John Waters, ladies and gentlemen! He never does things the easy way.

This film is an attack on the formulaic nature of Hollywood cinema. Director John Waters is known for making these independent types of films that deal with taboo subjects, but it's interesting to note that despite gaining cult status, his movies have never really gained mainstream acceptance. The irony of this is the most well known John Waters film is "Hairspray," and this is because it was remade by Hollywood into a mainstream musical. "Cecil B. Demented" is, in many ways, the most extreme version of an independent filmmaker like Waters. For Cecil and his crew, film is strictly about art, not making money, and they will do anything for their art, including stealing, kidnapping, killing, and even dying. Honey Whitlock, played by Melanie Griffith, is your typical and stereotypical Hollywood actress, a diva to the max who treats her assistant like crap and often makes outrageous and trivial demands just because she can. When Cecil and his crew first kidnap her, she starts as an unwilling participant in his guerrilla style film, reluctant and only being involved so she doesn't get killed. As the film moves on and the media starts to paint her as a villain, she becomes more and more willing to help out in their film and gets more invested in their cause.

Much like many of Waters' films, there is a certain level of absurdity with a little bit of underlying truth, and "Cecil B. Demented" is no different. It is true that many Hollywood films are trite and made solely as a cash grab, but it also satirizes the pretentious nature and self-importance of many independent filmmakers. Cecil, along with his huge delusions of grandeur, have convinced himself that making money by making films means he is selling out, and he's not prepared to take the easy route and distort or taint his art. Though Waters is known for his bold statements and his covering of unexplored topics, unfortunately, the execution of this movie is much too sloppy and is thrown together too flimsily to make an impact. At some point as an audience member, you have to factor everything else out of watching movies and simply go for the entertainment factor, and while "Cecil B. Demented" is certainly that, in its attempt to shock audiences into agreeing with its viewpoint, it almost isolates more people. It seemed to have a lot of potential, but faltered a little and felt a bit contrived. We'll stick with some of his other classics instead.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 52%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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