Cecil B. DeMented

At best, Cecil B. DeMented is a good idea that never fully realizes itself. Small flashes of brilliant satire peek through a morass of comedy that is not funny. Writer/director John Waters (Pecker, Serial Mom) wants to tell everyone that movies are bad. This is in no way a controversial statement; many would agree. Cecil B. DeMented is Waters' way of saying that there should be a new way to make movies; movies where the actors use real emotion and Hollywood things like budget and catering do not get in the way of production. The crew should live for the movie and even be willing to die for the movie.

Waters is not exactly known for making great movies. Here, he falls into the same trap he warns against. Cecil B. DeMented (Stephen Dorff, Blade, Earthly Possessions) is a rogue director out to make a movie. He kidnaps Hollywood starlet Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith, Crazy in Alabama, Celebrity), an actor he thinks sold out. He wants to reform her and to introduce her to his way of making movies. Although unwilling at first, Whitlock eventually turns to his side. DeMented leads a groups calling themselves "the Sprocket Holes," consisting of a porn star, a drug addict, and all sorts of other people. DeMented shoots his movie in real time, using Whitlock and the Sprocket Holes to terrorize theatergoers watching bad movies and Hollywood producers and sets. Watching Griffith and Dorff decry the moralizing of Patch Adams is great, but watching old ladies condemn DeMented as anti-Hollywood seems more like Waters trying to make something out of nothing. Waters has the movie turn DeMented into a sort of anti-hero.

DeMented's movie fails to make any sort of statement because it really isn't that good. DeMented wants Whitlock to use real emotion, but Griffith ends up overacting. No one cares that the movie may or may not be shown; they only care that it is made. Also, the movie uses no retakes and uses actual people as extras (although sometimes those people are under duress). DeMented and his crew eschew aesthetics in favor of gaudy clothing, and live in what may be the tackiest warehouse in recent memory. In other words, this is a typically trashy Waters movie.

Oddly enough, Cecil B. DeMented is a definite Hollywood movie. Watching the credits is especially amusing, since DeMented himself would despise many of the things Waters used. Waters, Griffith, and Dorff all have their own drivers. There is catering, dailies, legal, and all other sorts of things that do not exactly typify 'rogue' filmmaking. Through DeMented, Waters pounds deservingly on video game adaptations, English dubbing, and rampant sequels. However, DeMented and crew have the gall to tattoo names of great directors (including Lynch, Preminger, Fuller...), but anything DeMented does pales in comparison, artistically and otherwise.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated R for strong crude sexual content, violence, language, and drug use.

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