Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I Finally Watched Red State

Chasing Amy
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Jersey Girl
Clerks II
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Cop Out

Congratulations, Dogma! You are no longer my least favorite Kevin Smith film. A new champion has arrived.

As is my policy, I don't watch the trailers for this Kevin Smith watch-a-thon before I view the film. I just let the movie speak.

What the hell did this movie say? It was garbled. Look, movies don't always have to say something or mean something. They can be mere diversions. But with Red State, I couldn't make out anything.

What is this movie trying to be? A horror story? An action story? A thriller? An indictment of the botched Waco stand-off from 1993? Something else? Did not 'get it.'

The Premise

Three horny teenagers (alright, we're starting off on a Smith trope) find a lady online who promises to have sex with them. All they have to do is drive out to a lonely country road to the trailer home where she lives. Well, what could possibly go wrong?


The boys are kidnapped by Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), a preacher who leads a small congregation very much like the combination of Waco's Branch Davidians and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Now, as much as I dislike this film, Michael Parks is brilliant. His performance as Cooper is the bright spot in this otherwise dark film. When we first see him, he delivers a sermon/monologue lasting a good chunk of screen time. His cadence and voice are mesmerizing, and you could only watch this scene and you'd think this movie was good.

Well, there's more movie.

In that scene, we get our first glimpse of Ralph Garman in a Smith movie. I am a member of the Garmy and listen to The Ralph Report every weekday. I know he's a talented voice actor and I couldn't wait to hear what kind of voice Garman was going to bring to this picture.

Like Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens, Garman spoke not a word before he was killed.

Really? Nothing? Not even some sort of guttural mumbling as he chased one of the escaping teenagers.

Shooting. Lots and Lots of Shooting

Man, I have already spent more time talking about this film than I expected. Stuff happens and people shoot at each other. Lots of death. Nothing wrong with shooting. I've loved lots of films with it. But a Kevin Smith film?

Halfway (earlier, actually) I forgot I was watching a Kevin Smith film, so different was Red State than everything that came before. As a creative writer, I go in any direction my imagination goes.

Again, like I wrote with Dogma, I'm perfectly fine with Smith trying something new and different.

But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

The Verdict.

I don't like Red State. For me, Dogma is a benign ignorance. The movie has some good moments, contained some trademark Smithisms, starred Alan Rickman, but mostly it's a one-and-done viewing and I give it rarely a passing thought. With Red State, I actively dislike it. Heck, I didn't even bother going to the DVD and watching the behind-the-scenes material. I ejected the DVD, put it back in its case, and put it on top of the To-Sell stack for a future Half Price Books run.

Now, as to Parks himself, I know he is in the next film on the list, Tusk. So, whatever interesting things that film has to offer, it at least has Michael Parks, easily the best thing about Red State.

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