No Such Thing (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Here's my choice for the worst movie script I've seen this year so far. This script is so stunningly incompetent as to defy any possible justification for having been filmed, other than that the same guy who wrote it (Hal Hartley) produced and directed it, and also wrote the music, while he was at it.


none, but Polley wore her strange leather thingy

The basic plot is this: Sarah Polley is a naive young journalist whose boyfriend is killed by an immortal monster in Iceland. The monster is anthropomorphic and speaks perfect English. In fact, he's just like a very grouchy human except that (1) he's immortal (2) he has a head like a medieval painting of the devil. She flies there to interview Mr Monster, but her plane crashes. She is the only survivor, but is very messed up. She has an operation, heals, then resumes her trip six months later and meets the Big Fella. She convinces him to come back to civilization, so that he can meet a scientist who knows how to destroy matter, thus giving El Monstro his much coveted death.

Needless to say, humans decide to turn him into a media circus, perform experiments on him, etc. One critic wrote that it was Splash without the humor. It did have some humor, so I'd say that it was more Splash meets Wings of Desire meets the TV version of Beauty and the Beast. Meanwhile, the sweet innocent girl is also a sudden media darling when she brings the monster back. On her first night back, she spends all night screwing an anonymous stud-boy named Carlo, then shows up for the press conference in a S&M outfit with a push-up look. This may take some kind of prize for the quickest and most inexplicable character development in history, since she had previously been acting and dressing like a chorus member in Oklahoma!

Strangely enough, this film features two of the Grande Dames of cinema: Julie Christie and Helen Mirren. Christie doesn't work much. Heaven knows why she chose this as one of her few projects. Many of the supporting cast are from Iceland. There is no explanation for why the Immortal Monster, with all of the world to choose from, lives in Iceland, other than that an Icelandic production company helped foot the bill.

If you read the second paragraph above, you may be asking yourself a question. Why did they have the sub-plot where she had the plane crash, and the operation and the recovery before getting to the monster? Wasn't that a distraction from the main thrust of the film? If you did ask yourself that, you may have a future career as a director or screenwriter, because Hal Hartley is supposed to be a promising filmmaker, and he didn't notice. In fact, about 12 minutes of the first 30 are occupied by the actual medical procedures, which are almost shown in real time, if you enjoy the surgery channel. It is not until minute 30 of the film that Polley gets on her feet, and not until minute 45 when she finally gets to the ol' Monstatollah and the actual movie is ready to resume!

I have to say that the movie does have some good moments once it gets going, which is to say once Monsty shows up. The monster himself is a complex and interesting character, well acted by Robert John Burke. He has been around, and alone, since the world began. He watched life leave the sea, and evolve slowly into humans. One of the things he hates about humans is their infinite adaptability. (This is the part which borrows heavily from Wings of Desire - his speeches about watching the development of man are very similar to the angels' speeches in the classic Wim Wenders film)

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

Unfortunately, the resolution of this film is so unbearably dull, the "scientific" special effects are so cheesy, the scientist so cartoony, the resolution so unsatisfying, and the final camera take so anti-climactic, that the currency built up by the monster's irascible charm is soon exhausted.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one and a half stars. Ebert 1/4, 3/5,

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 31% positive. This is deceptive, because Metacritic's evaluations showed no critic higher than 7/10. In other words, 31% of the critics didn't find it completely abominable, but nobody liked it at the level of 8/10 or higher.


The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: it grossed $60,000 on 9 screens over three weeks in the Spring of 2002.


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.

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