Serenity

This movie didn’t screen for the critics, probably because they knew we’d trash it. And we all did (well, aside from Katie Walsh, who has just awful taste in movies).

So I headed over to the Reading Town Square with my wife. We joked about all the nudity we heard we’d be seeing from Matthew McConaughey.

The best thing about the movie was that the Reading was doing something they did last year that I loved. If you donated $3 to Variety Children’s Charity (which helps kids who are sick or have disabilities), you got a movie pin (from Mary Poppins Returns), and you got a box of candy (I went with the Raisinettes), and 100% of your money goes to charity. You can’t beat that.

So I sat with my chocolate and hunkered down. I’m hit-and-miss with noir pictures. I might be the only critic that wasn’t all that impressed by Body Heat and The Postman Always Rings Twice. I was lukewarm with Mud, (although McConaughey was good in it).

The commercials for this looked both intriguing, and idiotic. Femme fatale Anne Hathaway shows up on a boat to get her ex-husband (McConaughey) to kill her current abusive husband, and pocket $10 mil. What could go wrong with that plan?

Writer/director Steven Knight impressed me with Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises (Viggo Mortensen); and Locke (Tom Hardy) was okay. So having him take a stab at an M. Night Shyamalan twist ending seemed promising (that’s the closest I’ll get to any spoilers). I had no idea he’d write such horrible dialogue. And that dialogue sounds even more ridiculous when Hathaway’s acting in this is so awful. McConaughey also looks ridiculous staring off into space while she spews her lines (or he’s angrily chopping up fish). All of it ends up being more ridiculous when you think back on it after the twist ending (which you figure out earlier than they expected you to); or, you could argue that the dialogue/sex scenes make more sense after the  reveal..

Diane Lane looked stunning, and it’s always welcome to see an actress over 50 that looks beautiful and not like she’s had a million facelifts. But what is her role in this? To spy at McConaughey’s character out her window, have sex with him, and then give him money when they’re done (good work if ya can get it).

So here’s the premise. Baker Dill is a fisherman that spends time on his boat and in the bar (when he’s not in Lane’s bed). There’s a huge tuna that keeps getting away, and he’s so determined to catch it, he pulls a knife on a couple of tourists that want it. That’s rather odd, considering his job is to take people out fishing. He’s got his trusty sidekick Djimon Hounsou, who often works without being paid. Especially on days when tourists lives are threatened.

This all takes place on a tropical setting called Plymouth Island (don’t look it up, it’s not there anymore).

Baker obviously has a kid, since he often drinks booze out of a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug. That mug merely reminded me of how criminally underseen the Bobcat Goldthwait/Robin Williams movie “World’s Greatest Dad” was.

Baker comes close to earning that moniker when he considers killing the rich, abusive husband (a solid Jason Clarke, who when bloody, looks like Randall “Tex” Cobb). You see, Baker wasn’t willing to do it for the money, yet when he realizes his son is in danger, well…this puts Dill in a bit of a pickle (see what I did there?).

For some reason, Baker Dill never calls to talk to his son, and his mind isn’t all there. He’s suffering PTSD, and of course…there’s all the rum.

Sometimes having a character with a hazy memory can work for the narrative. I loved when the protagonist in Dark City couldn’t remember certain aspects of his life, and things came to him in fragments. In Dark City, he couldn’t remember if he killed someone in his hotel room. Will Dill kill, and be smart enough not to get caught…much like his elusive tuna “Justice”? Or will he get him drunk, push him off the boat, and chum the water with blood and beard. And…what I’ve always wondered about with these types of setups is….can you get the money up front? It would be another pickle for Dill, to kill someone, not get paid, and not be able to collect…or possibly be framed.

With the noir pictures I previously mentioned (Body Heat, Postman), even if they weren’t perfect, there was a certain style that at least made the proceedings fun at times. This film doesn’t have any style, only goofy cliches and bad acting. Many of the times it felt like one of the David Zucker parody films on a noir story. In fact, here’s a fun drinking game for watching this at home. Any time someone mentions “fish” you drink. Any time McConaughey has a wet T-shirt, you take a swig. Any time McConaughey takes off his pants (or quickly puts them back on after sex) — another drink. Any time the heavy-handed strings in the score swell up — well, then you can puke.

Oh wait…I forgot to mention the character that brought the most joy and unintentional laughter from the wife and I. Jeremy Strong plays a geeky, mysterious man in a suit and small glasses, who is always running after McConaughey yelling “Dill! Mr. Dill?” before the boat takes off, leaving him stranded in the water wearing a 3-piece suit, briefcase in hand. He leaves his business card to everyone around town, asking to have a meeting with Dill. It reminded me of one of those weird characters that pop up in a Coen brothers film. Anyway, add him to the drinking game.

Another one of the weird elements is a radio show that plays constantly on the island’s only station. The DJ (Redd Pepper), reminded me of the jock you heard on The Truman Show, confusing Jim Carrey with the things he was saying, that were happening in his life.

This movie is currently on my list as the worst movie of 2019. I’d rather watch McConaughey’s badly written and voiced commercials. It’s amazing to think that these two both he and Hathaway have Oscars.

0 stars.

Side note: the movie is the name of the boat Dill owns. For a fantastic movie named after a boat, that also has some killing, look for Cassandra’s Dream.

 

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