Passion Play (Blu-ray)
PASSION PLAY is the Hollywood equivalent of watching a car wreck. You know it’s about to happen and maybe you honk your horn or something, but you’re powerless to do anything about it. So you’re forced to watch the cars speed towards each other, headed to their eventual destruction and then when the wreck is over, you’re still surprised at just how bad it was. That about sums up my feelings of PASSION PLAY. When I heard Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray were going to make this film, I knew from the beginning it was destined for failure. In fact, I think we all knew it was going to be a bad film, but even knowing that going in, I was still shocked by just how horrible this movie really is.
A down on his luck musician, Nate (Mickey Rourke) is left for dead in the desert when he’s inexplicably rescued by a band of unnamed Indians dressed in white (wait, it gets better). So he dusts himself off and stumbles across a carnival that happens to be going on in the middle of desert. While there, he meets Lily (Megan Fox), a carnie “freak” that has wings in her back. They strike up a friendship and she returns to the city with him. At this time, Nate concocts a confusing plan to get the evil mobster Happy (Bill Murray) off his back by using Lily as barter. Ugghhhhh. I’m not even done trying to describe the plot and already my head hurts recalling this mess of a film. There are so many things wrong with this movie that it’s easier to say what’s right about it; Megan Fox looked really, really hot.
So what I think director Mitch Glazer was going for is a story of redemption through true love. And if you really squint your eyes, you can kind of see that shine through the film. The problem is that none of the characters had motivations for what they were doing and so one event led to another without any real reason or purpose. Nate stumbled upon an “angel” (although she’s never really labeled as an angel) and then immediately tries to trade her to the gangster to save his own life. But he somehow thinks that he gets to “keep” her and that he and the gangster are going to share her profits. What will she be doing to make money? Who knows? That’s never discussed because apparently Mitch Glazer recognized it was a dumb idea as well. So of course, Happy beats up Nate and takes Lily for his own, forcing Nate to try and get her back.
But even at that point, the characters are confusing. Lily goes willfully with Happy in order to guarantee Nate’s safety and Happy seems…happy with her choice. Then he goes berserk when someone from her carnie days tries to take her. At that point, he decides to put her in a glass box and sell tickets, even though she didn’t have anything to do with the attempted kidnapping and there’s no other reason for his sudden shift in behavior. All the while, the audience is shaking their heads in frustration.
There’s also this little issue of Megan Fox with wings, which could actually be done well if more thought and time had been put into it. Glazer skated on the theological line the entire film and he would have been better to call out the elephant in the room and label her an angel. Instead, the wings were more of an ugly birth defect that Lily hated. She even escaped to a plastic surgeon to have them removed at one point (and no, I don’t know how she got the appointment or how she was going to pay). But let’s say she was set up as an actual angel that was on earth and was actually kidnapped by someone. Then let’s say Nate meets and falls in love with her and dedicates his life to rescuing her. Then let’s say someone else wrote and directed the movie and all the actors were replaced with ones that fit the characters. Then we might have something.
Much will be made about how bad the big three were, but it wasn’t their fault. We’ve seen Rourke and Murray give great performances, so we know they have talent. And Fox can be efficient if used properly. The problem is that the actors were set up for failure at every turn. I don’t care if Katherine Hepburn was cast as Lily, there’s no way she could pull off a scene with her trying (and failing) to fly in the breeze. And every scene with Rourke and Fox together was creepily uncomfortable; I felt like I was watching someone get molested.
So, at the end of the day, PASSION PLAY is a horrible, horrible film. Words don’t do the movie justice, but anyone interested in making movies should go out and get this film as an example of what not to do. It’s just like watching that car wreck on the freeway; sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
Video: The film was shot using a very strange green-screen-like background. But instead of a green screen, it looked more like an old 80′ TV show where a screen would move behind the actors while they were driving. So that gave all the outdoor scenes a halo effect that was exacerbated on Blu-ray.
Audio: No complaints on the audio.
No other special features were included, which is a shame because all the actors and Mitch Glazer should have to answer for this.