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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
(line on the poster) First they send in their drone. Then they find their Queen.
"Yeah, sure they do." - Feo
If you took Tennesee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire, and asked someone to make Blanche Dubois a certifiable schizophrenic (instead of just some nut), then you might have BUG.
Ashley Judd (THE PASSION OF DARKLY NOON, KISS THE GIRLS, DOUBLE JEOPARDY) as Agnes White, re-hash's her character, Joanna Eris, from her 1999 flop, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.
The movie begins with an aerial shot of a lonesome motel in the middle of nowhere, on a lonesome highway with only a few other places with electricity. Agnes stands outside in the evening heat while the phone rings.
She picks it up, nobody answers. She hangs up. Phone rings. She picks it up and yells at whoever is messing with her on the other end. She hangs up. The phone rings. This goes on for what seems like ten minutes of the film. The theater audience starts to get loud as the obvious answer has settled in to even the thickest skull in the crowd. Someone behind me shouts,
"Unplug the stupid phone!"
When a movie or motivation is so inane that even the audience is finally driven to yelling at the screen, that is usually a sign that the movie isn't going to get any better. And in this case, they were correct. The scene ends with Agnes standing outside of her motel room while the phone rings and that pretty much sums up the wit of BUG.
BUG is essentially a five to ten minute short set-piece (based on the play of the same name) that's been stretched out to 102 minutes. So what you get are characters and situations and scenarios running far, Far, FAR past the point of Jesus Motherf*cking Christ! We GET IT already! Move the shit ON!
As the thousands of feet of film frame drag their sorry celluloid past the gate, we are hammered over the head with the obvious.
And then the over-obvious.
Agnes is a lonely nut who will take anyone of any gender at any time. She is stuck on stupid and is incapable of making any good choices. Hence, this forty-something woman is right where her personality would leave her.
Peter Evans (Michael Shannon: DEAD BIRDS), the obviously disturbed man who enters her life, is a narcissistic nutjob nobody totally wrapped up in himself and his idea that he is just so god damn important to the universe that the entire U.S. government is out to get him.
Jerry Goss (Harry Connick Jr.: COPY CAT) is Agnes' volatile, obviously disturbed ex-husband who re-enters her life. He is a different flavor of nutjob, but still so totally wrapped up in himself, and believes that he is just so damn important to Agnes, that he can't even hear her tell him to get out or that she hates him.
R.C. (Lynn Collins: THE NUMBER 23) is Agnes lesbian friend with benefits and that's as far as her character is drawn.
And that is it. There is no depth, no life to speak of for any of these people. It's as if writer Tracet Letts despises small town people, has no idea of small town people, and has gleaned all he knows about such folks from episodes of Jerry Springer. I imagine that his attitude toward folks who live in small towns will be much lauded and applauded by big city folks. Then again...
Seemingly as an apology for having drawn such trite yokels, halfway through the film we discover that Agnes once had a son who was kidnapped a few years back. A few years later she gave up trying to find him. This possible avenue of interest is not developed, merely used as a crutch to prop up the ending.
It's an awkward graft that doesn't take, though Judd does her best to sell it.
The theme of today's disaster, aka BUG, is witnessing a descent into madness. Except everyone in this picture is already there and the only thing left to do is wonder how they intend to 'off' themselves. Sure would be nice if they were interesting people.
I mean, you can make a fascinating "descent into madness" Horror Thriller movie. Alfred Hitchcock did it with REBECCA and PSYCHO. Martin Donovan did it with APARTMENT ZERO. Bryan Singer did it with APT PUPIL. It's been done in two Aronofsky movies, PI and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Bill Paxton did it with FRAILTY. What's more, as in the case with this movie's trailer and poster, you can even make movies where the descent into madness is caused by disease or technology, like Cronenberg's RABID or VIDEODROME or THE FLY remake. There was even a slow descent into madness in 1975's BUG (the BUG 2007 is not a remake or a better movie)
In fact, BUG director William Friedkin made TWO pretty damn decent "Descent Into Madness" movies with THE EXORCIST and SORCERER.
Now don't get me wrong, William has had his share of bad movies. In fact, he made silly movies like THE GUARDIAN. He's made convoluted movies before, like JADE. But at least they were entertaining, even if entertainingly bad!
BUG could have used more silliness. Although there was humor at times, even while I chuckled I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be intentional or not. BUG could have used more convolutions, it goes straight from point A to point B with no surprises along the way.
In short, watching BUG made me think I was watching people (good actors, no question) who were considered too boring for the Jerry Springer show and wound up, instead, on the Maury Povitch show. Except without Maury's half-wit audience to hoot and holler for entertainment.
And without Maury to ask so-stupid-they're-funny questions.
- With only the guests to sit there in an otherwise empty set with nothing to do but talk to each other.
- And prattle on for 102 minutes.
So BUG is very much like a half-wit Maury Povitch show without Maury or his audience or commercial interruption and over three times as long.
- And instead of being free, I paid ten bucks to see it.
Not scary. Not horrifying. Not thrilling. No fun.
One Shriek Girl.
Squash this bug before it BREEDS!
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