Saturday, April 19, 2014

American Psycho 2


Lorimar television is quite interested in moving forward with their new musical sit-com, Hoosier Daddy, a continuation of The Music Man after Harold and Marian Hill relocate to Gary, Indiana to raise their children. I am poised to sign on as Marian, but am awaiting the final casting choice for Harold. I have suggested Matthew Broderick, considering the unforgettable job he did in the television remake of the original show last year but am told that he may be unavailable. We may have to go with another Matthew, Matthew Lillard, who sang and danced so memorably in Loves Labours Lost a few years back. If he's unavailable, I suppose there's always Matthew Perry.

The pilot episode portrays Marian as a working mother of three adorable tots, running the Gary, Indiana central library and, as the period is now World War I, my big number is a three number staircase tap up and down its front steps to 'Over There' as I work the crowd into a patriotic fervor. As red, white and blue flags and bunting appear, a minor character, named Rumsfeld, assures the crowd that good old American know-how will end the war in a matter of days, that their sons will be perfectly safe, and that not supporting the administration's position in this is un-American, if not downright treason. I think it will play well in middle America.

After perusing the script, I was in the mood for something all-American so I settled in to the home theater for a few hours of channel surfing fun. I flipped through a number of films until I hit the 2002 direct to video number, American Psycho 2, a purported sequel to the 2000 film, American Psycho with Christian Bale. The original film, like the infamous Brett Easton Ellis novel on which it was based, was a social satire on New York yuppie excess, with moments of grisly horror thrown in more as counterpoint than as the raison d'être. It's somewhat open ending left all sorts of interesting possibilities for story continuation. I'm sorry to report that the film makers took advantage of none of them.

Lions Gate films, which released the original film after most of the usual independent labels wanted nothing to do with it, retained the rights to the 'American Psycho' title and seems to have simply applied it to a completely different teen slasher genre piece that was probably located in one of the outer circles of development hell. Writers Alex Sanger and Karen Craig (novices both), give us a campus drama that could have been lifted from the Urban Legends or the Final Destination series if the producers of those would be idiotic enough to buy it.

In this film, the first five minutes ties in with the previous story of Patrick Bateman. We begin in his apartment (a tacky set, not like the sleek lines of the yuppie pad from before) where he has imprisoned a young woman and a younger girl. Patrick (a poor body double for Christian Bale) begins his usual carnal delights with the young lady; her charge, as she is a baby sitter it appears, breaks free and, in an unguarded moment, skewers Mr. Bateman, dispatching him from life and the film in one fell swoop. We then follow our twelve year old murderess, who feels freed by her crime and jump forward six years to her freshman year of college.

Young Rachel Newman (Mila Kunis) enters the fictional West Washington University as she has a dream. She wishes to be a behavioral scientist with the FBI, acting as a profiler and catching serial killers and nothing is going to get in her way. Her way in is to get the coveted TA slot in Professor Starkman's (William Shatner) abnormal psychology of the criminal course. She does not care that it's been promised to someone else or that, as a freshman, she doesn't have the requisite experience. She just sees it as a necessary step on the road to Quantico. Convinced that the rightness of her ends justifies her means, Rachel, begins removing any obstacle and the body count starts to mount. Students, university staffers, faculty, all start coming to bad ends very quickly. The only person who suspects that Rachel is not what she seems is Eric Daniels (Geraint Wyn Davies), a local psychiatrist, who senses she's a sociopath and starts to make moves to stop her.

There's only one reason to watch this film, and that's to watch Mila Kunis (of TV's That 70s Show) have a ball in the central role. Whether she's on the couch arguing the ethical rightness of evil positions, throttling young swains with prophylactics, or racing a car towards a cliff with a dead body riding shotgun, she's got a great presence and a firm conviction. She's a hoot with her one track mind and dead pan delivery. Sort of a Wednesday Addams on a killer rampage. Of the rest of the cast, the less said the better. The young people are mainly Canadian unknowns who are likely to stay that way. William Shatner, nearly unrecognizable under a corpulence magnified by his sweaters, turtlenecks and bad Botox job, waddles through his role in a sort of daze, as if he received an injection of ten milligrams of Valium in the bottom on his way to the set every morning. It's possible the daze was created by his awful dialog and ridiculous character, but I do like to be charitable. The only recognizable human being in the whole enterprise is Geraint Wyn Davies' psychiatrist; unfortunately his major function is simply to give Rachel an antagonist with an elderly mother.

The production was directed by Morgan J. Freeman (no relation to the actor) who keeps things moving, but is uninspired. There are no fewer than six producers credited. Why is unclear for this is strictly a low budget made in Canada and direct to the video rental market affair. The production values are cheap and there's the ludicrous fiction that everything that takes place in forested Canadian locations must happen in Washington state. Upstate New York looks similar and would be much more likely to be a feeder into the FBI and Quantico. The only other redeeming feature is an interesting selection of soundtrack music from newer alternative bands.

There's no reason to waste time with this unless you're either a Mila Kunis fan or you have terrible insomnia. Despite the murders, it's likely to put you to sleep faster than Sominex.

Duct taped ladies. Obese officious staff person. Gratuitous cat in microwave oven. Fancy restaurant dinners. Gratuitous saintly mother. Defenestration. Parking lot drag racing. Token of love locket. Faked suicide. Gratuitous trick ending.

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