First off, if you have shit you need to get done, "Meet Joe Black" isn't the movie for you. It's a great one hour and 45 minute flick crammed into three grueling hours. Second of all, I liked it despite that.
Everybody that knows me knows I'm a sucker for a weepie. Jesus Christ, when I saw "Beaches" for the first time, I bawled like a fucking baby for two weeks. The second time I saw it, I cried for two more weeks. Mrs. Filthy hasn't let me watch it a third time. And don't even get me started about "The Bodyguard." "Meet Joe Black" is sort of a weepie, so perhaps that is why I'm so soft for it.
Super-billionaire Anthony Hopkins is dying among the Victorian opulence of his mansion and belongings. He knows it, but he won't admit it. Because Death is closing in on him, he encourages his knockout daughter, Claire Forlani, to find a man that makes her whirl like a dervish, not just some straight arrow weenie. Had Claire looked hard enough, she would have found me filling tanks at the Ralston Amoco, but instead she bumps into Brad Pitt. Too bad for her. Pitt is so taken by Forlani that he gets run over by a car while thinking about her superjuicy lips.
Enter Death. He's on holiday, and he uses the freshly dead body of Pitt so that he can walk among the living. Holy shit! This is a brilliant movie concept. Sure, this is a remake of "Death Takes a Holiday", but God Damn, it's a hell of a lot more clever than a retarded waterboy becoming a football player.
As movie magic would have it, Pitt, as Death, chooses Hopkins as his guide in life. In exchange he lets Hopkins live a few extra days. This, of course, puts Pitt's body (but not his mind) back in contact with the girl I want to kiss like a camel wants water, Claire Forlani. In other words, I want to kiss her until I develop humps on my back. Forlani is not particular, apparently, because she immediately falls for Death, who goes by the name Joe Black. She still thinks he's the guy from the coffee shop.
Pitt's presence in Hopkins' life is troublesome. Hopkins can't tell anyone who the cat hanging around with him because if he does, Pitt will take him away right then and there. As a result, Pitt causes Hopkins to lose his job and control of his huge corporation. So the story plods, with boring subplots about corporate takeovers and the planning for Hopkins' huge 65th birthday.
Finally, Pitt gets tired of hanging around and decides it's time to kill Hopkins. He wants to take Forlani with him, and I don't blame him for a second. But, the movie wonders, is it love if you kill someone just so they can be with you. According to the Jerry Springer Show, yes.
After boring contemplation, Pitt decides that no, he loves Forlani so much he will leave her behind to live a full and rich life. That feels like the right thing to do. Hollywood disagrees, though, because they are a pack of rabid assholes with no sense of moral balance. I'll get to their decision later.
"Meet Joe Black" is the first romantic movie I've seen this year that actually works. Well, up until the irritating, lame-o ending, anyway. Even though Pitt acts like a poorly programmed robot, and Forlani is a stereotype, I cared about what happened between them. They are elegant, decent people. They talk too slowly and spend too much time staring moonily into the camera, but I blame the director, Martin Brest, for that. He seems to have forgotten that this is not "Schindler's List" but a romantic comedy.
"Black" is funnier than I expected, too. It sucks its humor out of Pitt acting like a fish-out-of-water among the living. He loves peanut butter and he interacts oddly with the real people. I only wish it were funnier. Brest stops delivering the laughs when he goes into "important, protracted" movie mode.
I'm not one for seeing those crappy movies where rich people sit around going "Oh poor us," and the poor, unprivileged audience is supposed to feel bad for them. I mean, who really gives a fuck if some rich people can't fall in love? Normally, I don't. But in "Black" I did. Maybe it's because Death is walking among them and even poor people can relate to Death (except Death is more welcome within my circle of family and friends because he clears away all that revolving credit debt).The settings are fabulously opulent and tasteful in a way that put me own wealth fantasies about big screen TVs to shame.
Forlani gets credit for being a total knockout. My God, I couldn't keep my eyes off her. And it wasn't even like I wanted to fuck her. No, I just wanted to kiss her and tell her jokes because she's one classy broad. She loses points for being out of her league, though. She is wistful and pretty, but somewhat overwhelmed by the task of acting. And her character is right out of the romantic comedy handbook. She's smart, we know that because she's a medical doctor. She doesn't do anything to prove she's smart, we are just expected to assume that.
Pitt is a weird cat. I don't know what the chicks see in him because his head is too small for his body. Can he act? I can't tell. In this movie, all he does is take on affectations. He is a twitchy robot full of wonderment as Death, and as the guy in the coffee shop he is just playing a stereotype of a New Yorker. He makes the same mistake that lots of undertalented hacks do when they think they are in an important movie: he pauses a lot and tries too hard. Plus, Death's isn't very well thought out. He interacts with wide-eyed wonder at everything around him. Is that how Death is? Is a man who knows everything about everyone just a good-looking dolt in the flesh?
The biggest problem with this flick is that I had to take long piss by the time it was over. It's three freakin' hours. A light-hearted romantic comedy should be short. Make them fall in love, introduce some sort of obstacle, resolve the obstacle. "Black" sets up the romance, then fucks around for two hours with uninteresting and uninvolving subplots, before finally saying "Oh, yeah, this guy's Death. That should be a problem." It would have been a great movie if it was under two hours.
Something else that pissed me off was the sex scene between Pitt and Forlani. Generally, I'm in favor of lots of fucking in movies. But here, it didn't feel right. My God, he's Death and he's going away, should he throw her down her? It's not right.
"Meet Joe Black" is a three finger experience
the right movie for you if you: 1) have three hours to kill and
2) like sappy romantic movies. I did and do. If you don't, proceed