Sunday, August 1, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #17, Twisted

For many of the movies on this list, there is not much surprise that they are going to be bad. Master of Disguise? It's a wacky kids movie with Dana Carvey and Brent Spiner. Corky Romano? Stars Chris Kattan. Battlefield Earth? Someone let John Travolta make a movie of a poorly-reviewed L. Ron Hubbard book. But how do you explain a movie like Twisted? It stars Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, and David Strathairn. It's directed by Philip Kaufman, who, among many big-name projects, wrote and directed The Right Stuff and with George Lucas conceived of the story for Raiders of the Lost Ark. That group has four Oscar nominations between them. Nobody doubts that each of them is talented. What happened?

One major thing that went wrong is writer Sarah Thorp, whose only other major feature film was The Bounty Hunter, which at 8% on Rotten Tomatoes is one of the worst-reviewed movies of this year. Her script manages to straddle the line between inane and tedious. I found myself getting more and more bored as the movie dragged on and the plot became more and more ridiculous. It deals with Judd as a cop who, after some laugh-out-loud kung fu movies in the opening scene, gets promoted to Homicide. She drinks a lot and has sex with random guys and later, after blacking out from drinking, the guys turn up dead. She's not sure if she has been killing them and she has to get to the bottom of it all. After no apparent detective work is done, it's all resolved in a completely unbelievable final scene that includes cops showing up to a deserted pier after nobody actually called them.

Judd's performance is really bad. Garcia's isn't much better. Kaufman doesn't seem to care, turning his location shooting in San Francisco into a contest to work as many landmarks into each shot as possible. Besides, any mystery shot in San Francisco has to draw comparisons to Hitchcock and, thus, start out behind the eight-ball. None of the other actors are big enough factors to save the day, even with pretty good character actors like Camryn Manheim, Richard T. Jones, Leland Orser, and -- in a weird twist of casting considering this movie came out in 2004 -- Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver. You may know them as Jacob and the Man In Black. They don't have any scenes together, but their names are next to each other in the credits.

One usually assumes that big stars can carry even a mediocre movie to quality. Get a bunch of them together and one assumes the movie is can't-miss. How many movies like this with big stars either get released with little fanfare to DVD, are hidden in the middle of winter, or never get released at all? This one came out in February of 2004 and I had never heard of it before I watched it. At least it's boring enough that I won't really remember it.

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