AUGUST 30, 2012
I forget where I read it, but some article about the making of Men In Black has stuck with me for 15 years now, concerning Tommy Lee Jones' acting. Barry Sonnenfeld told him that the straighter he played the role, the funnier he would be, and he's right. While Will Smith's mugging gets tired/dated, Jones is still hilarious, keeping that movie worth watching all these years (and inferior sequels) later. Thankfully, someone on One-Eyed Monster had the same idea, and while the joke wears thin by the halfway point or so, I was impressed enough by that point to forgive them.
And that joke is this: the monster in the movie is Ron Jeremy's detached penis, which is scurrying about and killing the crew of a porno movie being shot in an isolated cabin. It's the sort of idea that might not even last the length of an SNL skit, but the fact that most of the cast plays it straight actually sustains it longer than it has any right to do so. Plus, it's actually pretty amusing; the Jason Graham character in particular has a wonderful attitude about the whole thing - he acts as if this is not completely unusual, and has a great deadpan face as he discusses plans to kill the killer cock.
They also get a lot of mileage out of mocking the adult film business in general, like when a girl who has been in 150 films is referred to as "just a beginner". One character has designed a robotic vagina that can simulate any celebrities' orifices, and needs someone to test it, resulting in this terrific exchange:
Science guy: "Just stick your dick in there."
Porn actor: "No way, I'm not fucking with my livelihood!"
Graham: "You DO fuck with your livelihood."
But the biggest laughs surround Jeremy's legacy in the genre, like when an older gentleman who appears to be a clueless movie fan admits he lost a bet with his mother about the length of Jeremy's penis. And the science guy theorizes that the reason the meteor/alien/whatever has infected Jeremy is because "50% of what we beam into space via satellite is porn, and Ron appears in 50% of them!". See, the alien wants to reproduce, and who better than the man who has had more sexual encounters than probably any other living male? And again, all of this is played completely straight, no different than the people in a slasher trying to explain why the killer is after them. It really works.
But, I mean, it's a killer dick movie. After a while, the jokes run thin, and they start to noticeably grasp at straws, like when the thing goes up another guy's butt and possesses him for like 40 seconds. As soon as someone says "He's being controlled", the "subplot" ends, never to be mentioned again. Amber Benson's character also more or less betrays the others at one point (she has a thing for Ron), but it has no real effect on anything other than to provide an excuse to cut to her making strange faces throughout the film. Scenes are drawn out, Charles Napier's character tells a complicated backstory that even for a movie about a killer cock is a bit far-fetched (he has seen this sort of thing before - and just HAPPENS to be in the area when it happens again?). I think they might have fared a bit better by keeping the thing a "secret" for a while, letting it off a few of them one by one before anyone noticed something was amiss, but they're caught up roughly 5 minutes after it first appears, which accounts for some of the wheel spinning.
Also, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, but we don't see the dick enough. I 100% appreciate that it's a practical effect, and I assume it wasn't easy to puppeteer, but nearly every "action" or scare scene is just a bunch of folks looking around the room at random, or maybe a POV shot. At one point we see that it has burrowed a hole through someone's head - er, how? It's a round, fleshy thing! I want to see how this thing works! I mean, any viewer would already have resigned themselves to watching a movie about a killer penis, so why are they holding back? That said, I was actually surprised at how chaste the movie was. There's only one scene with nudity, I think (which has a great punchline), and most of the deaths are off-screen. Here I was almost afraid to watch the thing thinking it would be more porn than horror, and as it turns out any random Friday the 13th movie is closer to X-rated.
The movie has a lot of bonus features, most of which are worth a look. There's a fun collection of outtakes where the guy lists different celebrities he wants to simulate with the machine, and some amusing character moments in deleted scenes that were cut for time. The "Penis Wrangler" featurette, like the movie, goes longer than its thin premise requires, pretending that that fake penises and the men who sculpt/control them have been part of Hollywood for decades ("This was for Sidney Poitier in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," someone says, holding up a giant black phallus, "but the scene was cut."). Cute idea, should have been cut in half. Same goes for the chat with Jeremy and fellow porn icon Veronica Hart, as they discuss how the business has changed over the years, where they think it's going, etc. They keep talking over each other, repeating themselves... it's sort of like listening to two drunks at a bar arguing about the President or something. Except they probably won't reflect on the time they both sucked on one of their own dicks (a skill Jeremy has, apparently).
Then there's the commentary by director Adam Fields and his brothers Jordan and Scott, which is even more surprisingly serious than the movie. They point out its flaws (including, as expected, having to extend scenes beyond reason just to make a feature runtime), shooting issues, etc. One of them is actually quite critical, which I guess you can chalk up to typical brotherly rivalry or whatever, but either way it's not as enjoyable to listen to as you might think, considering the subject matter. And one of them (Jordan, I think) says that he dislikes Shawshank Redemption, so that bummed me out as I was certain that no one in the world disliked that movie. I've heard worse tracks, but it doesn't seem like they're all that into it, so perhaps they should have opted for select scene commentary instead of doing the whole movie.
So here's a benefit of doing HMAD - this is not the first killer penis movie I've seen, as Frank Henenlotter's Bad Biology has a third act focusing on a similar "monster". Thus, when I tell you this is the best killer cock movie I've ever seen, I'm not being a wiseass - it's a legitimate compliment! I've seen worse!
What say you?