I didn’t really know what to make of War, inc. Cusack was on the verge of brilliance, channeling his stellar mumbling performances from his previous characters, a little Lane Meyer, a little Lloyd Dobler, and a whole freakin’ lot of Martin Blank. And the latter seemed to be one of my big problems with the film. Now, don’t get me wrong Grosse Pointe Blank was an amazing movie, and late in the nineties reintroduced my internal love for both Cusack and the Violent Femmes, but I’m just not sure if I wanted to see it again, with a little less whimsy. Cusack’s thinking hit-man seemed a little too lost and forcibly rough around the edges, and the nightmarish flash-back sequences left me disinterested and a little angry with the fact that they existed at all. He was a much more believable troubled hit-man in Grosse Pointe, and you didn’t even need corny flashbacks to tell you so.
The man behind the helm of this film, Joshua Seftel, borrows a little too much from here and there with mixed results. The tone of the movie is off the charts at some points. I felt as though Seftel took a dash of Mel Brooks, a dab of poignant Terry Gilliam at his satirical best, and then mixed in some Michael Moore at his obesely annoying worst. The political and social messages were valid, but there was no real digging into the film to find them. They were nicely placed on the surface and there was no way you could avoid them…which can be a problem. Say you are somebody who just watches movies for entertainment value, you might not be my most favorite person because of this, but still at a base level that is what movies are supposed to be. The overtly obvious message of this film can easily turn those people away from the large levels of enjoyment that can be had in this film. Although I said Seftel borrows heavily from the aforementioned directors, their names alone (minus Moore) should let you know just what kind of great visual and mental entertainment you are in store for. In the end it doesn’t really take a genius to figure out the message behind the film anyways, so there should have been no real reason to make it that obvious. The overall effectiveness of the message is drastically hurt by the fact that you don’t get the satisfaction of figuring it out on your own.
As far as certain social messages go though, this film contains a great one. Almost every part of the film that deals with Hilary Duff’s character, pop-star extraordinaries, Yonica Babyyeah (yes that is actually her name) is perfectly acted and extremely valid in today’s celebrity-worshiping climate. The bit with the sex tape is quite funny. Overall I am quite surprised that I enjoyed Hillary Duff’s performance, and although it wasn’t quite a stretch for her, it was still good. Joan Cusack played the same character she usually does, and one almost exactly the same as Marcella from Grosse Pointe, but as usual she was still good and great fun to watch, as was Ben Kingsley and Dan Aykroyd. The only character I could really care less about was Marisa Tomei’s journalist-with-a-huge-heart Natalie Hegalhuzen. It was the same blah character you see so much these days, a journalist who will do anything for the story, with a ridiculously large humanistic streak. If anyone the sees this film watches the t.v. or reads the newspaper you know most journalists don’t actually care this much about people, or telling the truth for that matter. In the end I don’t really feel that Cusack’s character even needed a love interest, and if she was taken out all together the movie would have been just as good, if not a little better due to lack of another Hollywood contrivance.
Although this whole review so far has concentrated mainly on the negatives, overall, this movie was quite the enjoyable experience. And if you’ve seen the trailers, liked Grosse Pointe Blank, or likes the idea of a hit-man hitching a ride on a quadriplegic’s motorized wheelchair all the while with guns-a-blazin’, then you’ll see the movie anyways and enjoy it despite it’s faults. Therefore I really didn’t feel like I needed to explain what made this movie good, because most already know. I watched this over a week ago and am just writing about it now because I’ve been quite busy, but the time off to think about the movie definitely helped me give a better critique. The faults of this movie are just too much of a hindrance to be overlooked, but in the end it’s still a good time.