Saturday, February 18, 2012

Repost: Don't Say A Word and Other Things

Brittany Murphy

I’m beginning to think I expect too much from my entertainment. On Friday night I wasted two hours watching Don’t Say a Word. I can’t say that it was the stupidest film I’ve ever seen but it’s right up there. I had a suspicion that I wouldn’t like it. There’s something about Michael Douglas that really turns my stomach. And no, it’s not jealousy. It started way before he started sleeping with Catherine Zeta-Jones. I only took the DVD out of the library because there was nothing else. So I didn’t expect to enjoy it much but I didn’t expect it to be so stupid that it annoyed me.


The film starts in 1991 with five guys robbing a bank. Do they go to all the trouble to steal money or cashable bonds? No they’re after one thing, a rare red diamond. As they come out of the bank they split up. Three in one car, two in the other. The leader, Patrick (Sean Bean), is with two others. He opens the pouch that is supposed to have the red diamond. A huge piece of jewelry, probably worth much more than I make in a year, falls out. Patrick’s been had.

Flash forward to 2001. Dr. Conrad (Douglas) gets a 911 from a fellow psychiatrist. A young girl needs help and only he can do it. He agrees to take the case and that night his young daughter is kidnapped.

Not a bad story you’re probably thinking. Unfortunately, there are so many plot problems.

  • Patrick tells Conrad that the girl has a number in her head and he has until 5 pm to get it out. Later we find out that for the past 10 years Patrick has been in jail and the girl, Elizabeth, has been in various psychiatric facilities. How does he know she has a number he needs?
  • We’re eventually shown Patrick and the other thugs killing Elizabeth’s father (one of the double crossers). We see the three being arrested on the spot right after the deed. Previously the female cop, who is only in this film for the purpose of exposition, has shown us five rap sheets saying that three of them, including Patrick just got out of jail after doing 10 years for bank robbery. What? They couldn’t make the murder stick? We also find out that the cops know that all five guys were a bank robbing crew. One of them was recently found dead, three others were in jail for 10 years. Didn’t anyone wonder where the other guy was?
  • Elizabeth’s father was buried as a John Doe even though the cop has his rap sheet 10 years later. The whole story doesn’t work if her father is identified but there’s no way a person with a rap sheet in New York wouldn’t have been identified in New York.
  • Elizabeth has spent 10 years being analyzed and drugged but she seems completely normal and well adjusted by the end of the film.

There are a whole lot of other plot problems that you can read about here if you’re interested. Besides all the plot stupidity, a few other things bother me.

  • I hope that Famke Janssen got a lot of money for this pathetic role. She has nothing to do in this film and not just because her leg is broken. Douglas could have been a widow raising his daughter alone and the film would have worked. Mrs. Conrad had no purpose. Everybody knows that an actress pushing 40 in Hollywood is only good enough for these nothing roles where they’re married to men 21 years their senior.
  • The token black guy dies first.
  • Oliver Platt is completely wasted as the “best friend” who fucks up. Another role that could have been done away with completely. But every man movie has to have a best friend to be rescued/redeemed.

Am I being too meticulous? After all it is just a movie. I want to be entertained but I don’t want the entertainment to be mindless. I think everyone has little things that bug them. When a blunder is pushed in my face I have to take notice don’t I? I’ve been watching the trailers for 300:

I’ve also been reading a few stories about the movie and every one of them claims that the line “Tonight we dine in Hell!” is accurate. Herodotus said so. Two points here. 

  • The Battle of Thermopylae took place in 480 BC when Herodotus was around four years old. I doubt very much he was there.
  • I also doubt very much that Herodotus or King Leonidas used the word “Hell.” Neither men were Christian and “Hell” is a very Christian concept. Leonidas might have said, “Tonight we dine in Hades!” But there’s no way in Hades he used the word Hell. Not that the Greek Underworld and the Christian Hell are the same… anyway that’s another essay.

Picky? Maybe. But I hate it when people go around justifying things by saying their “factual” when they aren’t. I don’t think our culture needs to be “dumbed down” any more than it already has been. I could get into a whole essay about the first Harry Potter film (HP & The Philosopher’s Stone) being changed to Harry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone because it was thought that Americans were to dumb to understand what the word “philosopher” refered to. I guess they’d be turned off by the thought of some orphaned kid and Aristotle. Maybe they changed Hades to Hell because more people would understand the Christian word. Fine. Do what you got to do but don’t do it and say it’s factual.

Okay. End of rant for today. 

Reposts are posts written for previous journals or other places online that no longer exist.

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