Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #11, Merci Docteur Rey!

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

I hope that over these ninety reviews (I started out having seen three of the movies) over the last twenty or so months, you have seen that I've tried not to exaggerate the level of awfulness of any of these movies. I've written about how bad many of them have been, but I've saved any superlatives for a very select few. I'm often prone to hyperbole, but I take this seriously. I've loved bad movies my whole life, but I had never set out to expressly watch them like I have in this project, so I honestly want to leave this list with an understanding of where the different movies fall. So, let me state it again, so you can see where this one falls.

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

It's not just the plot, about the son of an opera diva who is closeted and goes to meet an older man only to find out after witnessing the man's murder that he was his father and upon finding this runs to a psychiatrist who it turns out has died of a heart attack and is sitting in a chair Weekend-At-Bernie's-style and the guy then turns to the crazy patient at the time for therapy while he attempts to find the murderer on his own. It's not just the acting, which is almost the worst I've ever seen (you can't top Travolta in Battlefield Earth or Chris Klein in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li), even though it includes Dianne Wiest and freaking Vanessa Redgrave and Simon Callow. A lot of it is the direction, which is easily the worst I've ever seen with atrocious framing and editing. It's not just the music, which never fits the scene. It's not just the dialogue, which is partly in French and partly in English and wholly bulls***. It's not even the ending, which involves a completely unbelievable line and curtains closing while one of the characters inexplicably drops in on a cable, but then the movie isn't over and keeps going for a few minutes while I alternate between cursing and shaking my head. No, it's all of this and more. When you're up against Battlefield Earth and The Master of Disguise and 3 Strikes, you can't just be pretty bad in all aspects; you have to be horrendous in all of them. Success!

My watching experience went something like this: I watched the first five minutes and considered breaking the DVD in half -- I figured that since it got 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and only earned $19,500 in theaters, I may have had the only copy not owned by someone who made the movie, assuming they didn't already throw it away to deny any hand they had in it. I proceeded to watch a good portion of the movie while yelling, "What the f*** is this?!" every so often. I began to hold my head in my hands. I mocked every line. I rewound the ending with the curtain to make sure I saw it right. Finally, as the credits rolled, I fell back on the sofa, exhausted.

Battlefield Earth was a big budget sci-fi movie. The Master of Disguise was a slapstick kid's comedy starring a major comedian. Merci Docteur Rey! is a foreign-ish film with a budget that was probably less than Battlefield Earth's catering bill. It's really difficult to compare these three. They all failed in their own way and deserve recognition for being, in the first two movies' cases, an epic disappointment and the embodiment of negative entertainment value, respectively. But it is the third movie above that is so poorly conceived and executed that you question not just the existence of the movie, but the existence of everyone who had anything to do with this movie. You see on imdb that people who saw this movie at film festivals thought it was brilliant and realize that it is so perplexing that these people thought it was art and therefore needed to say it was brilliant in order to look like they understood it and you pity them and their sad inferiority-complex-having lives. Battlefield Earth and The Master of Disguise, as mainstream Hollywood movies, are more easily understood to be historically bad and more easily understood to have been reaching for some sort of brass ring of which they fall way, way short. You can talk about expectations and you can talk about prior knowledge of a movie and you can talk about being more upset with a Travolta or a Carvey when they put out dreck, but, no, none of that matters when the cold hard truth is staring you in the face.

Merci Docteur Rey! is the worst movie I have ever seen.

No comments: