Bodywork (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

After having watched about a trillion movies or so, I finally got it through my thick skull that there is a universal rule regarding the video and DVD cover boxes. If the main picture is a posed shot of something that has nothing to do with the movie, and features people who are not in the movie, that's a good sign that the film stinks to high heaven.

The rule certainly worked for Bodywork, the cover of which features a steamy couple playing with lug wrenches, the guy bare-chested with a gun shoved down the front of his trousers, the woman in a tank top, doing her best Jaime Pressley impersonation. This pose was obviously conceived by someone who saw the title of the movie but never actually watched it.

The film is basically a British version of The Mask without the mask. 

Virgil Guppy is a mealy-mouthed, lily-livered corporate whipping boy who decides to blow his life savings on a gorgeous used Jaguar. The car's engine blows up after four miles. Virgil demands a refund, but all sales are final. He goes to court, insisting there was fraud in the sale. He wins in court, but the car dealer simply refuses to pay. Then he decides to hang out at the car dealer's lot and tell potential customers about the swindle, but the dealer is understandably displeased with this arrangement, and sends a hit man after him. A scooter-driving hit man.

If that wasn't silly enough, the police arrive at his door one day, ask him if that's his Jaguar. He says "sort of", they ask him to open the trunk, and it contains the body of a murdered prostitute. So the police think they've found a murderer.  


 A murderer named Virgil Guppy? I guess those coppers never go to the movies. I mean where's the potential for a catchy murder's nickname? Who ever heard of Dirty Virgil or Virgil the Enforcer or Virgil "Machine Gun" Guppy.  Funny names are pretty much the entire source of humor in this alleged comedy. There's also Fiona Money (Beth Winslet in her first starring role) and Tiffany Shades.

There's only one thing for Virgil to do in his situation. Since there's no way he can prove he isn't a hardened criminal, he might as well become one. Or something. He doesn't have a magical mask, but it's otherwise basically the same concept. He just changes his personality without the benefit of the mask, substituting an offbeat gang a of car thieves as his designated gimmick. It's the usual "prove my own innocence and avenge wrongs by taking the law into my own hands" plot, packaged as a black comedy. 

DVD info from Amazon.

Widescreen letterboxed. No features except a trailer

The lead actor is a genetic splice between Jared Leto and Jim Carrey. He looks more like Leto, but a deranged version. Unfortunately, he got Carrey's subtlety and Leto's sense of humor. 

Tedious movie. 

The Critics Vote

  • BBC 2/5.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.1 (10 votes - it will go down. At least I hope so.)
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. I couldn't stay awake. It attempts the offbeat hip humor of "Lock, Stock" or "Trainspotting", but doesn't really know how to deliver it.

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