Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lowest common denominator

I watched The Killer Inside Me for a few reasons.
1) It was being described as a "neo-noir" film
2) The stills all looked gorgeous and the cast was intriguing
3) Emerson had stepped up to defend it and declare his appreciation.

I don't have that Emerson review in front of me now, but I do remember that he compares the violence in Killer favorably to what he considered the more obscene violence of Kevin James smashing into a tree in the Grown Ups trailer.  What's interesting to me about this right now isn't whether or not Emerson is right (he is not), but the fact that he chose Grown Ups to compare Killer to.

Because Killer and Grown Ups are both fundamentally bad comedies.  Yes, I insist that Killer is a comedy, from the first happy spanking to the fiery finale, the tone of the film is comic and everything is played for laughs.  

The disastrous timing that plagues noir protagonists is brought to almost absurd levels here as each new action brings unforeseen problems that pile on top of each other, culminating in a ridiculous moment when Ford is trying to frame and kill a bum and slips in his freshly murdered lover's urine.  Then, as the man runs away down the town streets, madcap chase music plays.  This is the most obvious example of the sort of dark humor that runs throughout Killer, but it's so omnipresent and obvious that Killer demands to be shelved in the comedy section.

So, what's the problem?  Like Grown Ups, Killer just isn't funny.  And it certainly doesn't shed any light on the twin subjects of sex and violence (especially against women) that it so easily and readily exploits any more than Grown Ups will get media-soaked families to spend any time with each other.  There's no justification for the images on display here except that it tickled the director's funny bone.  Shits and giggles.  Grown Ups and The Killer Inside Me.

In some ways I do admire the tone of Killer because it is so brazenly defiant of expectations, creating a sleazier queasiness that is a bit more subtle and suitable than the easy creeps that it could have gone for.  I like how Ford is never really relatable even as his criminal activity is filmed with such visual delight.  There are a lot of tensions here that are admirably held together.

Still, The Killer Inside Me is a wickedly unnecessary film.  The violence on display is not completely glamorized, but in order to like this film you almost have to start thinking of those scenes as so much more fun.  Like that chubby comedian swinging into a tree.


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