It's the Rage

"Bad"

It's the Rage Review


Quite a cast has been assembled for this Altman-esque tale of interlocked lives, all clamoring around the "serious social problem" of gun control. While there's no denying that the USA has over fifty million gun owners and it's a subject worthy of address and debate, this movie thuddingly hits the same numb point over and over again: guns are bad, guns can kill. That's about as resonant as It's the Rage will get.

Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen play a miserable suburban couple whose marriage is disrupted by an accidental shooting in their living room at midnight. As it turns out, the guy was Daniels' business partner. Allen moves out in disgust and, through a process of self-discovery, figures out that her happy little life was nothing more than a middle class prison. She hides away at her new workplace, in the employ of eccentric millionaire and computer guru Gary Sinise. Daniels sits at home fuming, renting pornography and playing with his gun.

Andre Braugher (as Daniels' attorney) and David Schwimmer play a gay couple who have just purchased their first pistol. Good timing, too, if you're talking soap operas. Schwimmer has begun to suspect his longtime companion of having an affair. Braugher's problems escalate when his white trash lover (Anna Paquin) becomes afraid that her powder keg older brother (wild Giovanni Ribisi) is gonna grab his gun and blow Braugher away.

Of course, this being an Altman-esque intertwined plot, Ribisi is chasing after entirely the wrong guy. He thinks friendly video store clerk Josh Brolin is the one who's playing Lolita with his kid sister. Wouldn't you know that Brolin worked for mad computer guru Sinise at the start of the movie?

Guns figure into each narrative, and because they're so close at hand our trigger happy cast are always a hairs breath from blowing each other away. Unfortunately, they don't. We the audience are stuck with ninety minutes of angry one-note characters who rub their quirkiness in our faces. Jeff Daniels flounders as a pompous hubbie who screams and yells when he doesn't get his way and David Schwimmer is grating as a swishy gay stereotype prone to fidgety hissy-fits. Robert Forster sleepwalks through the standard "cop ready for retirement" role who's investigating every other character, often launching into bone dry, monotonous speeches about the grim state of the world. Oh, the humanity.

I don't fault the cast, though. Some of them, like the always reliable Joan Allen, fare better than others. Gary Sinise in particular has fun with his socially inept geek persona, often reacting to the computer screens in his room which purportedly reflect his games but seem to display his own manic thoughts (which sometimes involve violence and guns, natch.) Only problem is, the charismatic and mannered Sinise often looks like he belongs in another movie entirely - say, a better Terry Gilliam movie, than the bland, by-the-numbers movie of the week everyone else is taking part in.

Once you get past the characters, the very look of the film screams student filmmaker. The budget shows its seams painfully in poorly lit flat imagery, often cheating shots to avoid showing the entire house of a millionaire or upper middle class couple in ways which limit the film visually. The final montage where everything heats up and blows, involving several guns going off and many characters buying the farm, it's so choppy and unclear that I didn't know what happened to a major character until catching it a second time.

Intended as a bleak comedy about the "gun control problem", the movie never finds enough social nuances in its display of guns in the homes of the rich, the middle class and the poor to work as humor or political satire. The caricatures and situations James Stern has placed under his microscope are simply too broad to have much of an impact.

By the time I reached the closing credits, where we are informed what happened to each of the characters afterwards in a cutesy anecdote about what they learned (such as "Don't shoot the friendly charging rhino, climb up a tree instead!"), the temptation was great to hang up my liberal conscience and join Charlton Heston's merry men at the NRA. I had to remind myself, "It's only a movie, it's only a movie..."

Aka All the Rage.

She left the piano.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: pinkplot productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: James D. Stern

Producer: , , Ash R. Shah, James D. Stern,

Starring: as Helen, as Warren Harding, as Tyler, as Tim, as Agee, as Annabel Lee, Wayne Morse as Clerk, as Chris, as Tennel, as Morgan, as Janice Taylor, Deborah Offner as Secretary

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