Thursday, February 03, 2005

video review: Wicker Park

You ever watch a movie and you know beforehand that everyone says it's awful but you're hoping that maybe it's a diamond in the rough, one of those movies that you really enjoy even though everyone else thought it was average? Maybe curiosity gets the best of you, and hey, with your video store you just pay a flat fee and get unlimited rentals, so why not, right? And even if it is bad, sometimes a crappy movie is enjoyable for its own reasons.

Such was our mindset when renting Wicker Park, a 2004 movie starring the always-brooding Josh Hartnett, the permanent goofy sidekick Matthew Lillard, and a bunch of other people who I don't know and don't really care about. Because even after this movie ended, none of the characters were particularly likeable (with the possible exception of Lillard, who *spoiler ahead* gets screwed over and is left unhappy at the end of the movie anyway *end spoiler*). The plot is not only full of holes, it's a little bit disturbing and a lot stupid.

Josh Hartnett plays photographer and reluctant ad executive Matt, who has just received a promotion and is about to leave for China on a business trip and making plans to get engaged to his boss's sister. At a restaurant--hours before his plane is supposed to leave--Matt thinks he sees his one true love, Lisa, who disappeared from his life without a trace two years previously. Instead of going to China, Matt spends the next 45 minutes of the movie (and two days of his life) stalking the woman he thinks is Lisa. He finds a hotel key and goes to sleep on the bed, steals some of her makeup, breaks into her house, and generally lurks in a way that I think is supposed to be romantic but is just incredibly creepy.

Turns out, this Lisa is not the same as the Lisa he was looking for, but after he startles her in her apartment, they sleep together anyway. About forty dozen twists and plot turns then occur, each more ridiculous and contrived than the last. Along the way we see flashbacks to find out what really happened two years ago, as if anyone really cared.

The movie works under the premise that everyone is obsessive when it comes to love, but what it feels like is just that everybody is stalking everyone else. The director likes having flashy visuals, so there is some style in this film, but no substance to back it up. In addition, as I mentioned before, there's no reason for the audience to root for any of the characters. Matt's a liar who acts without any common sense, and the other characters are completely self-centered and hit varying levels of crazy.

I would go into more detail, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who's still thinking of renting this abomination. The one good thing about the film is that it's bad enough that it becomes fun to mock. So it's got that going for it. But all in all, I think you're better off leaving this one alone. Grade: D-

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