Powder Blue


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Oh, no.

This turned out to be yet another example of my least favorite genre of all: separate stories of a seemingly unconnected multi-ethnic group of people in Los Angeles whose lives become mysteriously interrelated in a short period of time. The most noteworthy antecedents for this film include Short Cuts, Crash, Babel, and Magnolia. Another recent STV, Crossing Over, follows this same general format.

As I write this, Powder Blue has one of the strangest male/female scoring ratios ever seen on IMDb. Men 18-29 rate it 9.4, a score which, if it held up across all demographics, would make Powder Blue the top film of all time. Women in the same age group rate it 4.9, which would be a weak score for a straight-to-vid. Among all voters, the male-minus-female score is 2.0. That score would theoretically make this one of the most testosterone-filled "dick-flicks" films of all time. In the IMDb Top 250, only two old war films 1 have a male-minus-female score higher than 0.7. After those two rarely-seen films, the Wrestler and Magnolia are next at 0.7, Sin City scores 0.6, and the two most popular Guy Richie films are each at .5. Surprisingly, the most popular films which are filled with war scenes and/or mindless violence do not have wildly unbalanced testosterone-heavy scores, and that includes many films you would probably think of as dick-flicks, including The Dirty Dozen, The Usual Suspects, and Full Metal Jacket.

"So Powder Blue is a dick-flick, right?"

Not at all.

Consider the story lines. It's Christmas Eve. A stripper is looking for her lost puppy while her young son lies in a coma in a nearby hospital. Meanwhile, her long-lost father is trying to reestablish contact with her because he's dying. A cleric is desperate to commit suicide because of a careless act which caused the death of his beloved wife, who appears to him in dreams. A tranny seems to be a hardened street person, but is really just looking for love, and is in prostitution to earn enough money to get his sex change operation. The two other main characters are a painfully shy mortician and a lonely waitress trying to re-enter the dating scene after a midlife divorce. The characters are all damaged and forlorn, and many of them are doomed. At least three of those main characters will die before the night is over, and the suicidal guy is not among them!

Oh, and don't forget the melancholy and sparse musical score, the ghost, and the miraculous frogs ... er ... I mean snowflakes ... definitely not frogs ... which fall from the heavens in Southern California.

Does that sound like a dick-flick to you?

Clearly not, based on the "Earth Girls are Easy rule." One of the aliens in "Earth Girls" observes that Earth men like movies in which many people die quickly, while Earth women prefer films in which a few people are dying slowly. Powder Blue is obviously in the latter group.

So what's going on with the IMDb scores? Well, a few things. One is that very few females have rated the film, so there are not enough degrees of freedom to establish a true statistical pattern with any confidence. The other main reason for the gender gap is that Powder Blue is widely known for only one reason: it is the film in which the spectacularly toned and muscled body of Jessica Biel can be seen naked on screen for the first time.

Is it a good movie? Kinda. The bad news is that the story outlines read much better than they actually are, and that gap can be blamed on some stilted dialogue. I actually laughed during one supposedly dramatic and potentially romantic encounter between Biel and the mortician, when one line came perilously close to "Promise me you'll never die," Team America's famous parody. I also cringed at some of the awkward monologue delivered by the priest when he talks to God.  But the film does have its plusses. If I set aside my distaste for this overworked format, and the fact that I did not personally enjoy the film, I have to concede that the film has some strengths:

Unlike many such films, the multi-story format is appropriate for the material and the interaction between the stories is sensible and unforced.

Unlike many weep-fests, this film allowed some of the main characters to find hope and/or happiness.

The performances are quite solid from top to bottom. I'm not sure about Eddie Redmayne, the Michael Cera impersonator who played the young mortician. I just don't know if I disliked the character or his interpretation of it, so maybe he just did what he was supposed to do. The rest of the leads (Ray Liotta, Forrest Whittaker, and Jessica Biel) certainly earned solid As and B plusses by overcoming the unnatural dialogue. As a bonus, Biel's performance also includes some of the most sensuous and athletic stripping you've ever seen. The solid minor players include veterans like Kris Kristofferson, Patrick Swayze, Lisa Kudrow and Sanaa Lathan, as well as a newcomer named Alejandro Romero who played the tranny. Swayze had the oddest role in the film. He was cast against type as the strip club owner, a complete sleazeball with long blond hair. Given the strange role and his illness, you will not know it is Swayze unless you are specifically looking for him. Maybe not even then.

DVD Blu-Ray


  No major graded reviews online.






7.1 IMDB summary (of 10)







Straight to video except for a perfunctory release in a few theaters.






Ray Liotta and Eddie Redmayne show their bums.

Jessica Biel shows T&A across several scenes.

One other stripper is topless and wearing a thong while she blows Patrick Swayze.

Several strippers are seen topless in background scenes.

Footnotes (see main commentary)

1- The Battle of Algiers (1966) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).



Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


The film is barely watchable, but Biel is gorgeous.