Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stuck Inside The Rage Cage: The Wicker Man (2006)

Outside of John C. Reilly's turn as dim-witted sidekick Cal Naughton Jr. in this summer's Talladega Nights, Nicholas Cage's performance as dim-witted cop Edward Malus in the remake of The Wicker Man may be the funniest of the year. The only real difference Reilly is in a comedy and Cage is not.

From the opening moments, when Cage and his laughably bad hairpiece return a lost doll to a young girl, only to watch the girl and the car containing her get slammed off the road by a truck, burst into flames, then explode (Note to car makers: stop using lighter fluid as top coat!). He follows an impeccably written letter to a mysterious island and a colony of man-hating goddess worshippers and really, there's only one way to deal with a colony of man-hating goddess worshippers: by beating the crap out of them. And I don't care what you say, Nicholas Cage punching old saggy women in the face will always be funny. Kicking Leelee Sobieski in the neck is very funny too, and he does that as well.

As Cage's search for a missing girl (not related to the one from the car and the prologue, but sort of supposed to remind us of her maybe?) grows more frantic, so does Cage's acting. Cage can say a lot with a little — see Adaptation — but he can also say way too much with a lot. Cage can get dangerously hammy, and unless the role calls for it (like in, say, Face/Off) that spells trouble, the kind of trouble that I find very funny.

Then again, perhaps my reaction to the film was fueled in part by the audience I saw it with, a large group of men I'd guess were from a homeless shelter or poverty outreach group, but who acted like a bunch of tubercular junkie pirates who just escaped from a mental institution. Even though there were five seats between me and the next party in my row on my left, one obese gentlemen (wearing sunglasses in a movie theater) decided to take the seat right next to me. The dude on my right? Spent the movie eating hot dogs and sleeping. Someone behind me refused to turn off their cell phone, which kept ringing throughout the first act. And then there was the guy in the front who enjoyed Cage's misogynist beat-downs a little too much, who was verbally cheering him on.

Nicholas Cage your Razzie awaits. Audience at the AMC Loews 34th Street, your straitjackets await.


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