Cecil B Demented (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Robbins Report: "South Park" meets "Bowfinger", without the laughs.

John Water's target is the movie industry. The film is about some independent renegade filmmakers who kidnap a Hollywood star and force her to star in their movie. She gradually comes to see their point. This case of the victim coming to identify with her kidnappers reflects, in a distorted funhouse mirror, the real-life story of Patty Hearst. In a delicious irony, Patty Hearst is in the cast.

Do you know that feeling you get when you watch a Saturday Night Live sketch and it isn't working? There are no laughs from the live audience, and the pacing is all wrong? And it just keeps getting worse because they keep trying harder? Well, if you enjoy that feeling, you can maintain it for 90 minutes by watching this film. It's like 90 minutes of Colin Quinn trying harder and harder and harder to be funny. And then being even unfunnier when he jokes about how he's bombing.


None. Melanie Griffith's buns are seen in a thong-style outfit.
The only stuff I laughed at was
  • the extended scenes of the director's cut of Patch Adams, and that was poorly done, even though the premise was hilarious.
  • the concept of "Gump, Again", starring Kevin Nealon

John Waters seems to be confused about the nature of humor. No matter how easy a target you have, It isn't funny just to say, "Dan Quayle sucks", or "Steel Magnolias sucks". You don't go to the improv to watch some smirky guy tell you the stuff that he doesn't like in a snide tone. But that's what this film is, simply a rant.

Here's my take on the rant scale:

  • Dennis Miller rants. His rants are cerebral, funny, original, and perfectly timed.
  • Gilbert Gottfried rants. His rants can have moments of high humor, but are shrill and repetitious.
  • Blackwell ranted. His rants were just bitchiness, and had no humor at all.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.77:1

  • Features: full-length Waters commentary, and a Comedy Central behind-the-scenes special.

This movie is about halfway between Gottfried and Blackwell. You might like it if you agree with it, something like the reason why people like Rush Limbaugh, but that would be unrelated to the intrinsic quality of the project.

In addition to being unfunny, it has no edge or bite of any kind. It's like listening to your sarcastic cousin tell you about the movies he doesn't like. Oh, you agree with him, but who cares about his unoriginal and uninteresting opinions? Most Hollywood films are more anti-establishment than this. So, here's the real point. When John Waters started making films, he was considered too radical and his humor too dark for mainstream viewers. The world has changed, and he hasn't. Now his work is too tame and white bread for mainstream viewers used to true gross-out humor and stylized violence.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 1.5/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 42% positive overall, 25% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.9. A lot of people loved it.
  • With their dollars ... it reached as many as 80 theaters, but total domestic gross was only about a million dollars.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a D.

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