John Waters wrote and directed “Cecil B. Demented” as in indictment of Hollywood’s watered-down mainstream mentality. Movies are generic and vapid, he says. We should reject them, not embrace them.
Fine, John. You know what? You’re right. Most Hollywood films are brain-dead. But you know what else? So is “Cecil B. Demented.”
If you want us to reject the mainstream, you’re going to have to give us a better alternative.
“Demented” is about a group of young renegade filmmakers, led by the title character (Stephen Dorff), who kidnap sappy-film star Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) on the eve of her new premiere, “Some Kind of Happiness.”
At gunpoint, they force her to star in their movie, an in-your-face piece about the air-headedness of mainstream movies and why we shouldn’t see them.
Cecil and his crew are society’s misfits, angry youths and sexually frustrated pessimists. Theirs is a kamikaze mission, particularly after they start sort of accidentally killing people in their quest for artistic integrity.
“Cecil B. Demented” starts well enough, Melanie Griffith playing Honey Whitlock as a foul-mothed prima donna — a parody of herself, in other words. Interestingly, the moment Honey stops swearing like a sailor and is subdued by her captors, that’s when the movie stops being fun.
Waters is so intent on making his point that he KEEPS making it, over and over again, and forgets to include any rising action in the screenplay. OK, it’s the next day, and they’re shooting more scenes in their movie. OK, it’s the next day, and they’re still filming. OK, OK, OK.
Waters, of all people, should know that doing a satire does not excuse you from including a storyline. It doesn’t have to be believable, but it does have to go somewhere.
The acting is generally atrocious, too. There’s broad-parody hamminess, and then there’s general incompetence. Except for Dorff and Griffith, this film falls into the latter category.
And is someone really, in the year 2000, doing a “Forrest Gump” parody? Yes. Waters is. “Cecil B. Demented” is, in its own way, as dumb as the Hollywood tripe it’s decrying.
D (; )