The Austin Chronicle

Video Reviews

Reviewed by Mike Emery, August 3, 2001, Screens

Cecil B. Demented

D: John Waters (2000); with Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Adrian Grenier, Alicia Witt, Larry Gilliard Jr.

Part action movie, part absurdist comedy, part protest piece, Cecil B. Demented has everything that makes a John Waters movie great. It also feeds yet another of the director's dark fascinations. His infatuation with Patty Hearst is no secret, and the movie draws from her abduction tale. But instead of a wealthy heiress, he offers Honey Whitlock (Griffith), a self-serving, hateful starlet. When she attends the premiere of her latest film in Baltimore, she's kidnapped by a group of film terrorists. Armed and dangerous, these would-be auteurs are led by crazed director Cecil B. Demented (Dorff). With their prisoner as the star, the troupe makes a film that rejects Hollywood's notion of entertainment. Each member of this semi-cult, the Sprocket Holes, is enamored with a specific groundbreaker. From Peckinpah to Lynch, the group hopes to return filmdom to its former glory. Both Griffith and Dorff handle the material with energy and enthusiasm, and Waters renders the product with equal vigor. As usual, expect outrageous dialogue, crazed characters, and an assortment of scenes that serve no purpose other than to shock.

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