The Spirit


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Imagine if Disney decided to remake an Italian cannibal film for a PG audience. Now imagine that they decided to turn the whole thing into a spoof with some cartoon Nazi villains and deadpan high-camp dialogue. Now suppose they decided to add some genuine, heartfelt moments from time to time.

Can't really be done, can it? You can't do all of those things at once.

But comic book legend Frank Miller might try.

Writer/director Miller had no idea where to go with The Spirit, and it really suffers from his inability to choose a path and stay on it. He could have made it a gritty R-rated neo-noir like Sin City, which he wrote and kinda-sorta co-directed with Robert Rodriguez. He could have made it a silly kiddie movie like Batman and Robin, or an outright spoof like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. He could have made it a tonally faithful adaptation of the comic's presentation, ala Watchmen. He could have set it in the 1940s or the present day. He chose "none of the above." He chose to follow no path at all, but rather just to wander aimlessly. The result is disastrous.

Miller did create some dramatic and interesting comic book frames when he was picturing more abstract concepts like empty rooms and city streets, but he just didn't know what to do when he had human beings interacting on camera. Of course, the first thing you'll notice about the film is that it contains no REAL human beings (except for one minor character). It is populated by jokey stereotypes. The one-dimensional hero delivers mock heroic lines like "You're a common criminal, and I'm takin' ya in," and the one-dimensional evil floozy comes back with badinage like "There's nothing common about me, crimefighter." Change the word "crimefighter" to "caped crusader," and I'll bet you will picture Adam West and Julie Newmar. That's not the only thing in the film that evokes the Adam West Batman show. Head baddie Samuel L Jackson rants and postures just like Cesar Romero or Burgess Meredith used to do, and his henchmen even wear shirts with their names on them! Worst of all, the characters are allowed hammy close-ups and the camera often seems to be tilted at an awkward angle.

Where are the balloons which say "pow" and "bam"?

But this is not your father's Batman. Just to show that forty years have passed since Adam West's day, there is a little nudity, and a little outrageous gore. Hey, let's have some edge.

But not too much edge, because the film was determined to get the PG-13 rating.

Well, you just can't have a little of everything. You can't be Adam West's Batman and Watchmen and Sin City. You have to point your ass in one direction and stick to it. If you don't, you're stuck with something hideous and mismatched, like a pimp driving an elevated Volvo station wagon with oversized spinning rims and racing stripes.

Or like The Spirit.


Anyway, does all that matter if Eva Mendes was naked?

Well, yes. Sorta.

There was some pretty good nudity in a Christmas Day PG-13 movie. Imagine what might have been on screen if Miller had chosen the Sin City path and and stuck to it.

DVD Blu-Ray/DVD combo


1 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
2 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
14 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
30 (of 100)

Somehow, inexplicably, it did not receive any Razzie nominations! That kind of surprises me, given that it was a high profile disaster, which is the kind of movie the Razzies normally go for. It is every bit as bad, if not worse, than The Love Guru or The Happening, which received plenty of tough love from the Razzie team.



5.0 IMDB summary (of 10)
C- Yahoo Movies

Note: Yahoo has a softball grading system in which C- is very low. Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo is rated C+. The Love Guru, Disaster Movie, and Uwe Boll's In the Name of the King are rated C.



Box Office Mojo. The distributors had to idea how to market it, since it was part kiddie movie, part gritty noir. They opted for the kiddie portion of the action and opened it on Christmas Day in 2500 theaters. It bombed miserably against the usual powerhouse Christmas line-up. It finished fifth among new releases, and even lost to four of the carry-overs. It finished a hair below $20 million.



  • Eva Mendes showed her bum clearly, and her breasts from the side. She may or may not have done a full frontal, since that particular view is out of focus.



Our Grade:


Technically OK. Otherwise a pointless, boring mess.