Masked and Anonymous

Making great movies is difficult. And sometimes, making truly horrendous movies is too. Most moviemakers have some shred of intelligence about them (no matter how small) so they can recognize that they need to do something better. Masked and Anonymous is a horrible movie. It is a huge, steaming pile of junk, which seems at odds with its creators. Bob Dylan stars, and it is a fact that is a great musician. Critics go gaga over all of his albums. Writer/director Larry Charles is wildly successful in the world of television, having co-created Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Together, they should make a great movie, but this is not the case.

The story is so scattershot and incomprehensible that it is useless trying to figure it out. Masked and Anonymous takes place in the near future. Jack Fate (Dylan, Catchfire, Hearts of Fire) is an iconic artist, sprung out of jail to headline a benefit concert thrown by Uncle Sweetheart (John Goodman, The Jungle Book 2, Monsters, Inc.). The United States is like a dictatorship, and is undergoing some sort of revolution. On the way to the concert, Fate meets all sorts of characters, most of them bad to great actors, all playing characters with stupid names. The chance to work with Dylan and Charles attracted the likes of Ed Harris, Jessica Lange, Giovanni Ribisi, Steven Bauer, Val Kilmer, Jeff Bridges, Bruce Dern, Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Luke Wilson, Cheech Marin, Fred Ward, and others to take medium to small roles in this excrement. Some of them only have one or two lines.

Dylan has the charisma of a box. In this particular movie, he cannot act. The script reduces him to speaking one or two lines at a time, usually in response to somebody. These lines were probably meant to be poetic, but sound idiotic. This contrasts with everybody else, who have way too many lines. And all of the lines spout stupid moralisms, adages, or are just a compendium of random words thrown together. The entire film is muddled and confusing, and whenever Dylan appears he sucks what little life is left out of the viewer.

The one small redeeming factor of the film is that Dylan and his band perform a decent amount of times. As a singer, he can hold the attention of the audience. The soundtrack also consists of a wide variety of artists and bands doing Dylan covers. Which brings everything back to the story. It is conceivable that Charles and Dylan were trying to construct a story around a series of characters. It sounds like an album, with each song on the album about one of these characters. The album as a whole may have a unifying theme, like a movie. Ultimately, this fails because listening to somebody sing about a character may be very different than watching said character. What works in a song may not (and absolutely does not here) work in a film.

Mongoose Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 52 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some langauge

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