Day Five of the Two-Week Torturefest
As lame as that horse Mongo punched in the face in “Blazing Saddles”.
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Written by: S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock & Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman
Based on: “The Wild Wild West” (1965-1969 TV series)
Captain James West: Will Smith
U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon: Kevin Kline
Ulysses S. Grant: Kevin Kline
Dr. Arliss Loveless: Kenneth Branagh
Rita Escobar: Salma Hayek
Also Starring: Bai Ling, Frederique van der Wal, M. Emmet Walsh, Musetta Vander, Sofia Eng, Ted Levine
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures on June 30, 1999. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 107 minutes. Rated PG-13 by the MPAA–western violence, sexual situations, infrequent/brief nudity.
Wild Wild West was watched on Sunday, December 23, 2012.
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” –Will Smith
THE IMPLICATION: “Wild Wild West cost a hundred seventy million to make. Director didn’t like it, so instead of revising it, he released it to theaters, tortured theatergoers that way, and earned a profit.”
Poor Will Smith! He’s an increasingly talented actor, regardless of what genre is at hand. I have yet to see him fail, but on several occasions, he has been sorely miscast.
Wild Wild West is not such a case. Yes, Smith is the standout in this otherwise un-watchable film, especially for a role he, himself, picked out. He was initially offered the role of Neo in The Matrix, but turned that film—now considered a modern classic—down for a rather insulting rendition of classic television. Considering that, I guess Wild Wild West does offer one mildly genuine surprise: it didn’t liquidate Smith’s career.
In most cases, it’s pretty bad when a movie wants to be completely serious and ends up failing miserably. There’s essentially only one worse concept: a film that masquerades as a “comedy,” yet the few gags that evoke the most nervous of laughter are thanks to pure luck.
All too many times, Wild Wild West has the strange, pretentious idea that it is playing out humorously. One-liners, double entendres, puns, and sight gags are shot left and right in this highly forgettable excuse for a “steampunk western.” But the film’s frame of mind is so self-confident, it’s a wonder none of the four writers ever came to realize their script was only firing blanks. Occasionally, there’s a goofy joke that manages to crack a smile. But halfway through, the film has worn itself so abusively thin, gunfire has been used more frequently as a wakeup call.
Wild Wild West bears not one kind regard to the art of subtlety. It’s an overly straightforward, loudly exaggerated, completely recycled landfill protruding with tiresome anachronisms. To call this Mission: Impossible meets Blazing Saddles would be one of the most unlawful offenses one could ever commit at the expense of either film. During the 19th century, two men are sent by President Grant to track down a criminal from New Orleans. Something—perhaps everything—about that premise reeks in a lack of originality. Director Barry Sonnenfeld has baked a turducken, but he has forgotten both the chicken and the duck. Wild Wild West is a turkey.
Footnote: With regard to the “Bottom-of-the-Barrel Line,” I’m not sure if the horse in Blazing Saddles was lame. On the other hand, my eleven-year-old sister LOVES horses to death, so I’ll make an effort to have her leave a comment either affirming or negating that speculation.
Crossroads – it’s Britney, b__ch, and she’s valedictorian.
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