>> Fantastic Fest 3: Southland Tales (John’s Review, 4.5/10)


414px-southland_tales_poste.jpgAn unfunny, incomprehensible mess.

That’s the long and short of it concerning Richard Kelly’s sci-fi comedy satire follow-up to Donnie Darko. I’ll get into the details, and, lordy, are there details, but, first, it’s important to know that it sucks. It might not sound like it truly sucks, but, trust me, it sucks.

Leading this rambling, incoherent nonsense is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, wrestler turned actor, playing against type as a boxer turned actor, “Boxer” Santaros. He’s married to a high profile political candidate’s daughter (Mandy Moore), but disappears and washes up on the California shore with amnesia, where he is promptly taken under the wing of a talk show host/porn star/terrorist played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. The two collaborate on a screenplay about the apocalypse, as the events within the script begin happening in real life. None of this is shown in the movie.

Did you get that last part? None of that information is acted out in this film.

Instead, it is all told to us by Justin Timberlake’s character, an actor/singer/drug dealer/war vet, who sits in a turret all day guarding the West Coast when he’s not breaking out into Killers’ songs and narrating this baloney. After the world’s longest expositional voiceover, we pick up with Boxer as he’s being used as a pawn by underground Marxists (Nora Dunn, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler), who are also in bed with a nutty energy guru (played by Wallace Shawn) and his cult-like followers, who are also in bed with Frost, the political candidate who is also Boxer’s father-in-law. Somewhere in all this is Sean William Scott as twins, one posing as a cop, one an actual cop, as part of a staged race crime involving Jon Lovitz’s cop character and the Marxists.

Sound confusing? Try watching it. It’s a grand failure, the type that rarely get made anymore, a throwback to the days of all-time overblown turkeys like Ishtar. It’s like the studio cut of Brazil for the Playstation Generation. By the time Kevin Smith inexplicably shows up in the film, sporting old age prosthetic make-up, you’ll have had enough (possibly even before that).

Someday, dictionaries will feature a picture of the Southland Tales movie poster beside the words “sophomore slump”. There’s ambition a’plenty–a sprawling two and a half hour satire based loosely on a mash-up of current events and the Book of Revelation–but, man, was this a misguided move. There’s a nugget of a decent film underneath the layers of headache-inducing backstory and the calvalcade of SNL alumni, and that’s a shame. If this was irredeemable, it would be forgotten in time. As it is, Southland Tales will join the annals of the great misfires of all time.

4.5 on a 1 to 10 scale


1 Comment

  1. Wow…just…wow.

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