Monday, September 26, 2016

She-Devil

1.5/4

Starring: Roseanne Barr, Meryl Streep, Ed Begley Jr., Linda Hunt

Rated PG-13 (probably for Sexuality and Some Language)

Don't get mad.  Get Even.

It's a human impulse to get revenge on someone who has screwed us.  When a driver cuts you off, you have the urge to honk the horn or flip them off.  Movies have capitalized on this by creating an entire genre of films ("Death Wish" being the most famous example).  "She-Devil" seeks to be a comic revenge fantasy, but it completely misses the mark.

There's a huge gulf between what "She-Devil" wants to be and what it actually is.  It wants to be a clever and wickedly funny comedy about a cuckolded woman getting revenge on her philandering husband and his annoying squeeze.  What it is is a tedious sitcom about a frump queen doling out uninteresting punishment to her boring husband and his self-absorbed girlfriend.  Yawn.

Ruth Patchett (Barr) is a housewife to Bob (Begley Jr) and mother to their two children.  One night at a party where Bob is trying to make new clients, clumsy Ruth spills wine over Mary Fisher (Streep), a trashy romance writer whose ego knows no bounds and has the tackiest sense of style in all of New York.  Bob is instantly smitten and they fall quickly in love.  When Bob throws Ruth away, she decides to make him pay.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned indeed!

A movie like this must be clever and funny, but it's not really either.  Ruth's methods are bland and predictable and too few of the jokes work.  Either it's because of bad timing or because they're simply not funny, "She-Devil" is pretty much mirthless.

It's also safe, which is death for this kind of movie.  A black comedy has to be fearless.  It has to go to places most movies wouldn't dare.  There has to be carnage.  But the writing is at a Friday afternoon sitcom level and director Susan Seidelman has little to no understanding of comic timing.

What are Roseanne Barr and Meryl Streep doing in a movie like this?  One would think that the ever choosy Streep would never come anywhere near a script this insipid, and legendary funny woman Roseanne Barr should have known that this movie was hopeless.  Don't get me started on Ed Begley Jr. who is just awful.  I kept wondering why Ruth would even bother with this loser?  She should be glad to get rid of him.

Seidelman saves the worst for last.  After all this pain and punishment (on the viewer), she softens the blow by finding redemption for characters she attempted to get us to hate.  It's a total WTF.  It cheats on a story that it couldn't get right to begin with.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this movie wasn't available on Netlix (I was curious about it, so I ordered the Blu Ray from Amazon).  This movie is so bland that no one who sees it will remember it.  I'm already starting to forget it (thankfully).

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