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Peter Travers of Rolling Stone

Quote whores are people who love tons of movies in hopes of getting their names in the paper, and ads only use their quotes when they can't find legit ciritcs. According to this week's Quote Whore:

Wonder Boys is "A comic dazzler!"

Reindeer Games is good because "Director John Frankenheimer keeps the action flying on all cylinders!"

Boiler Room is "Spellbinding! Ben Affleck has never been better."

Magnolia is "One of the bestmovies of the year - startling, innovative, hugely funny..."

The Grifters - Jim Thompson
Benjamin's Gifts - Michael Golding

North by Northwest

Bomboras - Head Shrinkin' Fun
Randy Newman - Twelve Songs

Big Empire

Post-it Theater

Las Vegas

The Gift ElectroniquÈ

Big Empire Buddies


©2000 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.

This week:

Reindeer Games

Filthy says:
"Look, Bob and Harvey, you don't have to share."


I am getting really fucking tired of seeing bad movies. Everyone seems to think seeing shitty movies is some sort of fun lark, but it's getting old. If Hollywood doesn't release something soon, I'm getting in the Galaxie and driving out there to bust open some skulls. Hell, I am running out of ways to say "Fuck You, Hollywood."

With "Reindeer Games, " Bob and Harvey Weinstein fuck us up the ass with their dried out, brittle Christmas tree, a tree that should have been thrown away in early January (note to Mrs. Filthy: I am going to take ours out this week, so stop nagging).

Always-annoying Ben Affleck is a bad boy in prison for car theft. How do we know he's a bad boy? Because he has tattoos and he does pushups in his cell, never mind that he looks like he should be manning the keg while his fraternity brothers watch "Shasta McNasty." His cellmate James Frain and he are due for parole when Frain is killed in a prison riot.

Right before Christmas (a point that is driven home like a Mack Truck), Affleck is released alone, and assumes Frain's identity so he can bang the snot out of his roommate's pen pal, Charlize Theron. After some unappealing sex, Affleck learns that Theron's brother is the leader of a gang of bad guys straight from the "A-Team's" central casting. My God, these greasy, goateed baddies, led by Gary Sinise, travel around in a black 18-wheeler with "Motor City Monster" and flames painted on the side, and that is their most subtle characteristic. These cartoon villains, thinking Affleck is his cellmate, make him help pull off an improbable Indian casino heist.

For the next hour, the following scenario is played out at least four times: Affleck tells these guys he is not who they think he is. Then they threaten to kill him, so he says he is his cellmate. Round and round, in a series of talky scenes weighted with dull dialog from the "I want to Be Quentin Tarantino Too" school of hipster talk.

I couldn't help wondering why Affleck didn't escape, given many opportunities. Or, he could have slipped out through any of the gaping holes in the story. They were even big enough for his head.

Finally, after more unnecessary twisting and turning that would have only surprised me if they made sense, we get to the money shot. That is, the casino heist. This casino is slightly larger than my broom closet, and not that much more convincingly a casino. And yet, the movie wants us to believe they have millions of dollars and about a dozen security guards on hand. The Motor City Monster gang, with Affleck along, dress as Santa and shoot the place up. They get the loot and lots of people get killed.

I should note that right after I saw this movie I went home and watched a tape of "North by Northwest," another story of mistaken identity, but one that is elegant in its simplicity and characterizations. Holy fuck is it a great movie, full of necessary scenes and characters who are interesting and believable. Plus, it's got a plot that sends things in crazy directions, but is plausible and exciting.

Hollywood seems to be confusing convolution with the cleverness of Alfred Hitchcock. Last week, the infinitely worse "Whole Nine Yards" had so many of plot twists and turns that it forgot to keep track. This week, the same lazy turd. Rather than tell a simple and clever story, these movies just pile shit upon shit on in the hopes that something will stick. The ending has about eight shitty twists when I would have been more than happy with one good one. I mean, one that makes sense, is believable, and that doesn't open up more gaping holes than a hundred dollar bill does in a crack whore.

But, lazy bastards like writer Ehren Krueger don't care about making a coherent plot. They aren't interested in elaborating on a simple idea. For an idiot there must be some sort of cheap satisfaction in sitting in the coffee house, scratching the goatee, and coming up with yet another preposterous convolution.

In particular, the ending of this movie is absurd. I don't want to spoil it for you because then you might not see it and give Miramax your hard earned dollars. So, let me just say that Affleck's cellmate didn't really die and has masterminded this whole scam alongside the scheming Theron. But, luckily, Affleck kills them both, gets the money and then stuffs it in random mailboxes until it is all gone. This twist is not only as retarded and unpleasant as an Academy Awards Show dance number, it's completely unbelievable, and it doesn't shock because it's based on nothing the movie has thrown out previously. Plus, Affleck giving the money away to strangers instead of the Indians it was stolen from is the kind of feel-good horseshit that only Hollywood can believe in. The rest of the country is actually driven by something called ethics.

The plotting of this movie is about the same on any PBS mystery program. On PBS, stuffy old farts sit around English drawing rooms and tell each other why they plotted a murder. Because "Reindeer Games" aims to be insufferably hip, they replace the drawing rooms with gritty motels and coffee shops, and they replace the English accents with variations on the word "fuck." In the first hour and a half, the plotting is stale because everyone has to spend most of their time trying to convince us that totally implausible things could happen. These twists are so lame that even the explanations require more explanation. Blah blah blah. In the last half hour, the clichéd action sequences actually are a welcome relief because then everyone shuts the fuck up.

Ben Affleck is about as likely an ex-convict as any other guy in Sigma Nu. They put tattoos on his shoulders to trick the audience into thinking he's a bad boy, but I didn't buy it for one moment. Nope, he just looked like an annoying copier salesman whose idea of a good time is getting a dirty pay-per-view movie. Affleck does nothing to change my mind, either, as he plods through this shit with the level of effort usually dedicated to picking up dogshit. Charlize Theron is just plain terrible. I don't even think she's that hot and the boobs she show are nothing I want to see again. In every scene she is either a lost waif full of goodness or an evil, scheming bitch. She and the script are incapable of shading her anywhere in between. And, the way her scenes alternate is pretty damn jarring and inconsistent.

The rest of the cast has nothing to do. Sinise is shaded so clearly evil that no personality shines through. In fact, he is given all the trappings of a bad guy, but not a single original thing to do or say. Well, except for that bad ass truck he drives around in. I just hope B. A. Barracus doesn't catch up with him. His henchmen have no personality. I mean, they are so obvious and uninteresting that the one time one of them actually said something interesting, it threw me off-guard.

The setting feels so lame. A heist at an Indian casino? I assume "Reindeer Games" was meant to climax in a more interesting target, like a real casino in Las Vegas or Reno, but cost-cutting made them shoot it on the cheap and it shows. The snow looks fake for some reason, and so much of the movie is shot in poorly lit rooms and truck cabs that it gets claustrophobic.

But, the most annoying thing is how heavily Christmas is featured in the movie. It's just a constant reminder that those fat fuck Weinstein Brothers pussed out on releasing it back in December because they knew it sucked and would get eaten alive. It's like their personal way of saying "We fucked you again, suckers."

There is a bright spot. Director John Frankenheimer does the best he can with the material. In a perfect world, Kruger would have been run through a wood-chipper before he ever wrote this mess. Since that didn't happen, at least we can thank Frankenheimer for doing the best he can and making the talky scenes as lively as possible.

Two lousy fingers for "Reindeer Games." One for each of Harvey and Bob's stockings next Christmas.

Did you see the Second Annual Filthies

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