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STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: For the low, low price of $29.95 you too can own a piece of the world-famous shit monolith
RUNNING TIME: 97 Minutes
- Making Witless: The Cast on the Cast
- Larry’s Use of the Analogy
- The Musicians of Witless Protection
“Let’s make a piece of moldering garbage and try to convince people it’s both funny and topical while stealing their money to fund our massive bacchanalian orgies where we poor Chablis on each other’s naked writhing bodies while the 2 Live Crew’s ‘Pop that C*****e” plays.”
“Who do we get to star?”
“You know who….”
Our feelings exactly, Dan.
Ah Puch the Cable Guy, Yaphet Kotto, Eric Roberts, Jenny McCarthy, Peter Stormare, Ivana Milicevic
“You want to know why I did this? The free hat, man. You can remake Yojimbo with an all-midget cast in blackface and I’ll be in that shit so long as you give me a gratis windbreaker.”
Larry the Cable Guy plays a good-old fashioned sheriff of a small town, settling simple disputes between men and their horses (the ones not settled by the local divorce court that is, NYUK NYUK*) and reaping the rewards of his disproportionately attractive girlfriend (McCarthy, in the role that gave her child autism) while yearning for an exploit more higher-profile that the small beans problems of his kinsfolk. Opportunity arrives in the form of Madeleine, a woman who Larry believes is being kidnapped by some shady men. His heroic rescue is anything but; as it turns out he’s kidnapped her from the FBI who was taking her under protection to a trial in Chicago to help indict some corrupt businessmen. Along the way Sheriff Larry Fucknuts and poorly sketched wealthy liberal socialite caricature learn about each other and see that they maybe aren’t so different after all. And even though Larry did kidnap a human being and makes other baseless accusations of all different creeds and codes throughout America, maybe his anachronistic and ignorant belief structure is based in truth after all. Did I mention fuck this movie?
“And I looked him in the eye, and I said to him this: Pay me upfront in unmarked bills or you’ll have to find yourself another Wilford Duvall. I really thought that would’ve gotten me out of this.”
As a film critic, one always strives to give each and every film the chance it deserves to destroy any and all previously held misconceptions about itself or its creators. The odds are never in a film’s favor for it to be a masterpiece of course, but there’s always the chance someone is doing something interesting albeit flawed that is particularly deserving of recognition or deeper examination. So I’m not lying when I went into this film without expecting it to be one of the worst things I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing under the guise of being cinema. At the very least, there would have to be little things here and there that rescued the experience from the dregs of cinematic society, something for me to cling to in spite of the ineptitude otherwise plaguing the production. This movie raped my adulthood. I mean that literally; I had a dissociative episode where I was just watching myself watching the movie like it was another person, for the sake of keeping my sanity.
The ‘interactive audience’ version of Witless Protection was infinitely shorter and far more entertaining.
But luckily, Witless Protection has a few things going for it. And I mean that in the sense that you aren’t reading a Digg’d article about how an internet DVD critic beat himself to death with a copy of the movie he was reviewing, and not in a positive way at all. There are some extremely bizarre supporting turns that help to dilute the shit flavor of the movie (more like shit water instead of shit syrup, say) from Joe Mantegna and Peter Stormare. One would think the creators of this movie were so pleased that they didn’t have to scrounge up hobos and prostitutes from trail cars across the country to populate their movie that they just allowed these professional actors to do whatever the fuck they wanted to. And whatever the fuck they wanted to they do, as Mantegna plays a crazed Southern scientist with a lisp and an obese wife, while Peter Stormare plays an aristocrat with what one might interpret to be a British accent. However, it’s more like a stroke victim doing a one man Monty Python impersonation if they had just learned the English language. I’d like to say the scene were Stormare falls face first into horse shit is the nadir of his career, but the entire performance exists as a sort of metaphorical face-first plunge into an endless chasm of creamy horse dung. It speaks volumes that the most interesting part of the movie is some truly terrible performances, but it is what it is. And what it is is a huge piece of shit.
The casting director went wild for Jenny’s immaculate Larry impression.
All of these elements add up to a shitpile film, yes, but shitpile films happen on a daily basis, right? Thousands of these types of comedic adventure romps litter the bargain bins of your local gas station and they aren’t generally worth any lost sleep or gray hair. Usually they don’t involve a character actor reprising his role from a beloved film of the past (Kotto, doing his Midnight Run FBI agent to increasingly diminished returns, although he leaves the film with the most dignity still intact), but nonetheless it’s just a bad movie. So what if it’s a barren comedy wasteland filled with incompetence at every level of the filmmaking process down to its incomprehensible plot, terrible acting and student film level editing and shot selection? What really pisses me off about Witless Protection, the fecal cherry on the shit sundae if you will, is its belief system, which ever so subtly insinuates into the plot. And no, this isn’t referring to the completely tacked-on and meaningless “support our troops” interlude where our characters come upon a welcome home/try not to die/free punch and pie parade just to show that no matter what is happening in the plot it can be curtailed by an empty patriotic gesture. It’s a moment as meaningless as a flag decal on an SUV, but still isn’t offensive on any level other than aesthetic.
Flipside: “UNLESS YOU WATCHED AND SUBSEQUENTLY ENJOYED THIS MOVIE.”
It’s the fact that bigoted and ignorant beliefs are espoused and then the beliefs are confirmed by the plot in an “ain’t that the truth?” affirmation that is genuinely stomach churning (the first time I’ve ever been made to felt queasy by a comedy now belongs to Larry the Cable Guy). It’s this hateful nature that makes this movie particularly worthy of bile and scorn. It’s not content to just be a miserable slog of a comedy; it has to be a miserable slog that parades xenophobia and distrust of those who are different from you as some sort of badge of honor. So fuck you, Dan Whitney. And fuck your stupid fucking movie.
The cover art is sufficiently aware of the type of heroic cop material it’s trying to play off of, but I think this little bit of cover art I worked up is probably slightly more emblematic of the quality contained therein:
Of special note are the menus, which employ some sort of attempt at co-opting the espionage theme and only succeeding in further confusing what the fuck this movie is trying to be. Luckily, the special features are fluff and sparse, so the agony wasn’t stretched to a length any more interminable than the feature itself. The most stunning of these is the behind-the-scenes look at the music in the movie, which reveals to us the baffling piece of information that Peter Stormare covered “Achy Breaky Heart” for the soundtrack. Mindrape.
.3 out of 10
*On account of how southerners fuck their animals, see.
“So why did you take this-“
“Got a nice timeshare in Naples.”
“Ah, I see.”
“And why did y-“
“Free hat, baby.”