Why does this movie exist?
Like, really, it was so incomprehensibly bad in so many ways that I, I, I can't even wrap my head around it. Miserable Class of Death II, at least when I had to watch a dry international/political movie for your predecessor, "Rendition" gave me the purtyness of Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon, even if not together. WHAT DID YOU GIVE ME, BABEL? Masturbating/incestuous preteens, a naked Japanese schoolgirl, small children watching a chicken get killed for a Mexican wedding feast?
How am I supposed to write a paper on this for Monday? It really better be a reaction paper, because I am going to have to get sarcastic and angry, with absolutely no chance of BSing politically correct stuff about how unfairly the poor Moroccan rural dwellers were treated, or the U.S. blows suspected acts of terrorism out of proportion, or how our entry/exit points with Mexico are cruel and unfair. The best I can do is make my scathing disgust sound like a sharply written analysis of why the film fails at achieving this PC goal.
The specification is important later; right now all you need you to know is that it involves an American woman getting shot and bleeding all over the place. While in a foreign country, stranded hours from the nearest building with electricity, getting the wound temporarily sewn up with a sterilized-by-flame needle. While her husband looks on helplessly, torn between rage and despair. IT ACTIVATES A LOT OF MY HURT/COMFORT SCENARIOS.
Things the film doesn't have going for it:
-a preteen boy making orgasm faces with his hand between his legs (after spying on his older sister getting undressed. While she kind of encouraged his peeping)
-Said preteen boy arguing with his brother about how far their rifle can fire, and so they start SHOOTING AT CARS ON THE ROAD BELOW to prove its abilities. Seriously. That doesn't seem slightly dangerous to you? ARE YOU RETARDED?
-A sexually frustrated and confused deaf Japanese girl, who - in addition to swilling whiskey and popping a pill her friend's cousin offers - at various points
a) flashes her crotch at a boy her spurns her after discovering she's deaf,
b) goes pantie-less to her dentist's appointment, licks the middle-aged dentist's cheek while he examines her teeth, and then forces his hand between her legs
c) tricks a detective into coming to her apartment with the promise of news about her father, then comes out to greet him totally naked and tries to seduce him until he pushes her away (and then she starts crying and he comforts her despite the nudity. it's weird), and
d) hangs out naked on the CITY-OVERLOOKING balcony until her father comes home, being all PTSO-depressive about her mother's suicide (and/or her false belief in her own ugliness, maybe), and lets herself be comforted with a hug...STILL TOTALLY NAKED.
-The fact that none of the scenes in Japan ARE NECESSARY IN ANY WAY for the ultimate tying-together of all the plot points
-Brad Pitt's character doesn't get any scenes with his two little movie kids, one of whom is Elle Fanning and therefore super adorable. Talk about a wasted opportunity.
Also: A lot of the film's interest came from the way I was waiting to see how all the stories tied together. Except only two of them did. Like, the entire "nanny takes her charges to Mexico for her son's wedding because she can't find anyone else to watch them for a day" plot. Why was that there? And, OK, that part was fine. What I really want to know is how did that devolve into her crazy nephew running away from the border guards when they came back, and her getting left with the kids in the desert overnight, and then losing the kids when she went to find the road so that they almost died of dehydration/heat stroke?
Was the whole wife-getting-shot-in-Morocco thing NOT ENOUGH DRAMA for Brad Pitt's character? (hereafter referred to as Brad Pitt, because I don't remember if we ever got a character name) He's not Horatio Caine! So, he goes through 5 days of hell, barely manages to get his wife out alive (which, thank God, if they'd killed Cate Blanchett I would have been even angrier), and he's not even HOME YET when he finds out that his kids almost got lost and died in Mexico?! Because, this whole Mexico-sideline plot doesn't even start, timeline-wise in the film, until he's gotten his wife to a hospital.
I mean, I'm assuming that's when it happens. Because the most mystifying part of this plotline is that it has no resolution. We never get to see Brad & Cate come home, get reunited with their kids, and/or unleash a can of whoop-ass on their intolerably stupid old nanny. We're just told that after they got a hold of him in Morocco, "he's angry, but decided not to press charges" while the U.S. government deports her for being intolerably stupid (is the basic idea). And then the film's basically over. Explain to me, WHY IS THAT THERE except as an excuse to add Spanish to the languages of Babel?
I'm almost done, I swear: But, OK, you know where this film really epically failed? I had zero sympathy for anyone who wasn't white. Which I think is the direct opposite of what the film wanted, but GOOD GOD, THEY WERE ALL SO IRRITATING. Even Amelia the nanny, I was feeling kind of OK towards until she came back across the border at "almost dawn" with her possibly-drunk nephew driving, and I was like "Really, Amelia? REALLY? This time of night, you don't think this situation might make the border guards suspicious at ALL?"
I was pretty sure I was supposed to care when the police got all rough with the poor innocent old guy and his wife, and started slapping him around when he didn't answer their questions well enough, but I couldn't bring myself to feel anything.
I was filled with glee and joy when the father of the incestuous/rifle-happy children found out about their various misdeeds/crimes, and start slapping them all about the face. THAT WAS HYSTERICAL. MOAR PLZ.
And then when the older (or at least taller) boy got shot when the family tried to flee the police? I was doubled over, trying to contain what I'm sure was a highly inappropriate laugh. I mean, you always say things like "I hope he dies," about characters you dislike, but then when it actually happens...
In short, I had issues with everything.
Conclusion: I...honestly do not know how this film ever tempted anyone to go see it. I think I even remember hearing it got all kinds of awards, but I don't want to look this fact up because I would just, I would just have to rock and sob in a corner if that were true. Even if you didn't count all my issues with it, the film is just so long, dull, with so many scenes that make you go "Why is this here?", and doesn't even weave a compelling 'here's how everything ties together!' story, that I cannot conceive of how anyone could think it was worth their time.
Unless you like Brad Pitt crying. Even grimy and bloody, he's kind of pretty when he cries.
EDIT: LOL LOL LOL, look what I found! Via topfive_reviews :
I imagine screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga simply came up with a bunch of characters that spoke different languages, then said to himself "what's the absolute worst decision my character could make here?" and the rest wrote itself.