The Wicker Man
Director: Neil LaBute (Nurse Betty, Your Friends and Neighbors)
Writer: Neil LaBute
Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer
Producers: Nicolas Cage, Randall Emmett, Norman Golightly, Avi Lerner, Joanne Sellar
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Beahan, Frances Conroy, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 102 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Mara Baker
      I was hoping to walk into "The Wicker Man" with an objective outlook. However, I already had two things working against me:
1) From the few scenes that they dared to show in the previews, I didn't see anything that particularly caught my attention.
2) I couldn't find any general consensus on just what the movie was supposed to be. I saw "thriller, mystery, horror, action, indie (which is a blatant lie)," and "comedy" all listed together. Not a good sign.

      However, trying to put my preconceived notions aside, I entered the film with low hopes and hoped that they were dashed by the time I was out of the theater. I realized my impending disappointment when I was able to find fault in the font they picked for the opening credits.

      Within five minutes, I already found myself groaning at the bad acting from the extras, the overdone anger of Nick Cage, and the stiff, halting screenplay. I was not in for a very pleasant experience.

      I'm not even going to go through the basics of the plot in this review, partly because it'll take up a good three paragraphs trying to explain all the meaningless blather we had to sit through, and partly because I was completely lost through most of it. The movie has so much unresolved and pointless symbolism that I'm almost tempted to play it alongside a "Pink Floyd" CD.

      The movie has a few moments where I thought to myself, "Okay, well...everything up to this moment was terrible, but maybe it'll get better?" These moments were so fleeting, they were gone in an instant. I laughed at this movie as if it were, in fact, a comedy. It's no "Gigli", but it strays dangerously close.

      The whole movie is just too much. The music is loud and John Williams-esque in places where it's definitely inappropriate for such score. The acting is overdone and painful to sit through. The setting (while, admittedly, beautiful), keeps switching between claustrophobic to grandiose, leaving us totally conflicted on just how we're supposed to feel. It's like a well-done steak: overdone and hard to swallow.

      Leaving the movie theater, I was having a debate over what part of the movie was the worst. Was it the prosthetics and make up team? No, they did well near the ending. Perhaps it was the director/screenwriter, Neil LaBute. No; while he doesn't know a thing about creating tension or believable dialogue, I suppose it could've been worse. After a few minutes I decided: it was the downright sexism of the whole film. Women in this flick are portrayed as the most god-awful creatures around (a theme echoed in the visual metaphor of bees that plague the movie; bees are seen as the feminine in most societies, and our "let me shout every line" hero is sadly allergic to the critters). Believe me, I'm no Spice Girl. I don't burn bras and I don't worship Gloria Steinem, but honestly; this movie made me want to kick a man in the face.

      I suppose this may seem like a harsh review, but I'm a bit miffed about paying $8.00 to see Nick Cage punch out a woman and parade around in a bear costume (which was a bit that gained more laughs from the audience than most of "Little Miss Sunshine", which is genuinely saying something). There are more plot holes in this movie than in a shooting target, Karen Beahan and Nicholas create the least amount of on-screen chemistry since Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, and Neil LaBute creates a film that's overcooked and unpleasant.

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Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PAGE for The Wicker Man


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