Cecil B Demented

"Good"

Cecil B Demented Review


If John Waters' last few gentler and (slightly) more commercial movies ("Pecker," "Serial Mom," "Cry-Baby") had his fans thinking the once-warped director had lost his edge, that perhaps he was inching toward mainstream repeatability, they need not fear. It was all a ruse.

It seems Waters was only lulling the cinematic establishment into a false sense of security so he could turn around and bite them in the ass with "Cecil B. Demented," a hilarious -- and very much old-school John Waters -- anti-blockbuster romp that chews up and spits out the kind of pandering Hollywood conventions that to toothless, cookie-cutter box office hits.

Cecil B. Demented (Stephen Dorff), you see, is an independent filmmaker of the purest order. His goal: cinematic revolution by any means necessary. If that includes kidnapping one Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith), Hollywood's biggest spoiled bitch/aging bimbo star, and forcing her at gun point to play a lead in his guerilla movie about celluloid terrorists (much like himself), so be it.

If that mean invading screenings of "Patch Adams: The Director's Cut" and attacking the set of "Gump Again" starring Kevin Nealon as Forrest Gump, so much the better. And get it all on film!

Waters is clearly having a ball living vicariously through this picture, taking pot shots at the studio machine while being utterly self-mocking -- or at least art-film mocking -- at the same time. It cannot be an accident that Cecil lives by a seat-of-the-pants credo similar to the Domge 95 rules recently toyed with by a collective of rebellious Dutch filmmakers led by Lars Von Trier ("The Idiots," "Breaking the Waves").

Letting his cast run amok Waters lends the movie a genuine -- if ignoble -- spirit of spontaneity. Sporting a peroxide do, a straight jacket, a riding crop, and some seriously buggy eyes, Dorff blazes his way through "Cecil" gnawing on scenery with a glint of mad moxie. He frequently busts out in exaggerated, egomaniacal monologues about motion picture purity. "The first take is the only truth!" he barks, blood vessels throbbing on his forehead.

Griffith -- who has suddenly become a good actress -- is also game for anything in her role as Honey. She throws diva tantrums, abuses her personal assistant (a mousy Ricki Lake) for her own amusement and, after her kidnapping, tries to pull rank on Cecil by complaining about his script. His response: An electroshock therapy reprimand. ZAP! "There are no creative differences on a Cecil B. Demented film!"

The movie is certainly flawed, if for no other reason than that Waters' budgets have outgrown his trashy tastes. The movie just looks too polished for all its clumsy, screwball scripting and deliberately ham-fisted acting.

Waters' structure is uneven too, with most film-terrorism episodes assembled in seemingly random order. Many of the characters are underdeveloped or under-motivated (Honey's Patty Hearst-style transition from captive to collaborator isn't terribly convincing). And sometimes the movie seems both forced (we meet Cecil's nutcase disciples in a tiresome roll-call scene) and oddly over-produced (his abandon theater hideout looks like the Broadway set of "Stomp!").

Yet for all its shortcomings, "Cecil B. Demented" is intoxicating, impudent fun for anyone with a healthy loathing for Hollywood's profit-driven pandering to the lowest common denominator. And Waters has a seemingly endless supply of incisive industry in-gags. Personal favorites include Cecil passionately licking the Panaflex logo on his camera and a scene with Teamsters chasing Cecil's crew off a back lot screaming "Get their 16mm asses!" Even the title music is something of barb as 1930s-style scoring battles for dominance with a hip-hop beat.

Everything about "Cecil B. Demented" just screams the fact that Waters delighted in taking studio money, then snubbing his nose at the system and returning to his roots in irreverent absurdity.

Welcome home, John.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd August 2000

Budget: $10M

Distributed by: Artisan Entertainment

Production compaines: Artisan Entertainment, Artic Productions LLC

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 38

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Honey Whitlock, as Cecil, as Cherish, as Lyle, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Lewis, as Raven, as Rodney, as Mrs. Sylvia Mallory, as Libby, as Petie, as Kevin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.