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This week:

Filthy says:

It's so sad when people can't distinguish their good ideas from the bad ones.

Like, people who recognize it's a great idea to go up to the Wyoming border and buy a shitload of firecrackers and bottle rockets, but think it's equally brilliant to the try to impress the folks at the Arvada Tavern by shooting one off from his asscrack. Or, it's a great idea to tell the cop who shows up to investigate the tree that caught fire in the Town Square that you just got there, but it's not as smart to also tell the officer to check the bottle rocket stub for shit to use for DNA testing. Especially if you're not wearing pants and have burn marks on your buttcheeks.

I guess what I'm trying to say is not so much that it's sad, but I sure do feel fucking sorry for myself. Man, there are so many times I get halfway to being a rich genius and I forget what the hell I was trying to do when I started. Just last week I started inventing a new sunscreen that would completely protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, but let in the good ones. I was making it out of ingredients you can find around the house. By that, I don't mean all that old gas and fertilizer I have in the closet from my failed attempt to overthrow my landlord. I mean regular shit, like normal people without paranoid delusions have.

Halfway through the process, I decided the sunblock should also be edible. Think about it: you go to the beach or pool or just lay out on the front lawn of your apartment complex, and get a nice tan, no burn. Then, whenever you feel a bit peckish, you just lick yourself all over for a nice snack. Apply another layer of my sunblock, and tan some more. I thought I had two great ideas married at the altar of genius. After some mixing and concocting, though, I tested my first batch. On the hottest day of the year, I slathered it on thick, head to toe, and laid out on the dead lawn in front of our apartment.

Turns out, what I did was reinvent mayonnaise. And not only did it not prevent me from burning to a near-fatal crisp, it started stinking like vomit and drew flies that find the Harelip too clean for their tastes. Oh, plus, it's not edible after it's been out in the sun for three hours. Unless, edible means you can scrape the flies off and lick it up, but it's gonna make you shit blood for three days. I don't know how the FDA defines that word, so maybe it is.

There is a point to my story, beyond just asking you to both feel pity for me and marvel at how damn close to the Sun I can fly. I can't remember what it is, though. In its place, let me just point out that it's sad when people like me get good and bad ideas mixed up because we only hurt ourselves. It's nowhere near as sad when the grassfuckers in Hollywood do it, because we have to pay money to watch them screw up.

Hancock is a perfect example. The great idea of a superhero who's down on his luck, bitter and drunk could be a pretty damn good platform for subverting the superhero genre, or at least saying something new about it. Not every superhero can be so well put-together and altruistic, right? Some of them must be insufferable assholes. After all, 85% of everyone I meet is. Will Smith's Hancock starts out that way. He's an alienated, sour man with supernatural powers. He stops trains about to hit cars and beats up bad guys, not so much to save lives as to piss people off. His rescues end up costing Los Angeles millions in damages. He gets juiced and sleeps on bus benches. The movie never says where he gets the dough to buy all this hooch. But, hell, this movie doesn't bother to explain much of anything.

Smith meets a wishy-washy Jason Bateman, a public-relations man with a heart of gold, and a massive, fancy house in the Valley, too. I have no idea how someone so damn hellbent on charitable work affords a mansion like that, or a mint BMW 2002, but probably neither does Director Peter Berg. I think the vintage BMW is supposed to suggest Bateman's character has a personality. But, you know what I find does that better than arbitrary objects? Actually giving him a personality. Hancock doesn't do that. After Smith saves Bateman's life, the PR man wants to rehabilitate Smith's image. He buys him a gay crimefighter suit and talks him into going to jail for his past crimes, so Los Angeles can discover how much they really need him.

This is where a pointless and uninspired pursuit of a great idea goes really bad. See, Smith really is lonely, in the schmaltziest of ways. He wants to be loved and willingly rehabilitates himself. He has a cornball backstory where he carries a little tin with tickets to Frankenstein from 80 years ago. He kicks a serious drinking problem in about a week behind bars. And wears the gay, leather suit. Soon, the police chief asks for Smith's prison release to stop a crime wave. Smith saves the city with almost no tension or thrills, but makes enemies with the bad guys.

Shitty ideas are like potato chips in Hollywood: one is never enough. So Smith discovers he's not the only supernatural being. In fact, Bateman's wife, Charlize Theron, is the other, and she used to be his wife. There is a convoluted and retarded backstory about how they've been together for 3000 years, but when near each other, they become mortal again. This shit makes absolutely no fucking sense, and is brought into Hancock in the last thirty minutes, after the movie runs out of steam on its first tired-ass story line.

It sucks ass. It feels contrived and as corny and lame as the backstory for any other superhero, which is almost always the weakest part. You know, where they try too hard to convince you someone really could carry cars or see through walls. Plus, it's just the sorry-ass way that Smith is vulnerable. Of course, he has to be vulnerable so there can be a big showdown at the end that actually has his life on the line.

Part of the problem is that nobody with half a brain in his head will ever think Smith's life is in danger in the first flick of what the studio hopes will be a franchise. That's about as likely as me being sober on a Thursday night. Or a Monday morning, for that matter. So, the movie ends with a drab, dull climax where the bad guys that Smith has put behind bars break out and try to kill him, and his proximity to Theron makes him vulnerable to their bullets. It all takes place in a big rain storm, of course, because lazy, unimaginative directors need those as much as they need really well-stocked craft tables.

The rest of the problem is how much fucking action there is without any of it having a point. The movie says absolutely nothing. Smith's plight is pathetic and hard to care about. Theron's character and its plotline is ridiculous enough to draw boos from a crowd. Bateman is the richest guy you'll ever meet who doesn't ever have paying gigs, and he's just soft and spongy. Smith is never very curmudgeonly, just a slight sheen of it over a hulk of doughy sappiness that comes out rather quickly.

The movie also feels like maybe three or four different ideas all crammed together. The main villain is generic when captured by Smith. Later, however, he's an Old Testament, speechifying, oversized baddie in the Batman villain mode. There is no trajectory between these. The end, which takes place in a hospital, feels so formulaic that it didn't raise the stakes at all. In fact, with people strapped to gurneys in a hospital while the fighting goes on, it probably should have been played for laughs, not as serious heart-string dopeyness.

It's a bad fucking movie, with a great idea buried somewhere inside. I sure as hell lost interest in digging for it. Two Fingers for Hancock.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Janet Stokes of the Bogus "Film Advisory Board"

Meet Dave is "Eddie Murphy at his best in this very funny family comedy full of heart, wit and captivating fun!"

Filthy's Reading
Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Listening to
The Breeders - Mountain Battles


The Bicycle Thief