Nothing On TV, Let’s Watch a Movie: The Devil’s Advocate

devilsAdvocateRebecca: So I think it’s interesting that we decided to watch this movie now, right when we’re talking about moving to New York so you can take a job at a law firm and I can paint the walls of our expensive “classic 8” apartment every other day. Uh, are you rethinking this decision at all?

Keith: Listen, woman, I’ve never lost a case, I have an undefinable Southern accent and I like to bite women on the ass while dancing. New York is the place for me.

Rebecca: Well, I learned a lot from watching this movie. Yellow walls and maroon furniture don’t go well together.

Keith: Did you notice the way the wall colors of the apartment kept changing and Mary Ann (Charlize Theron), in her final breakdown, even said something like, “Did you like the green?” There was this weird agenda in the movie that only evil city people try to decorate their apartments, and then they do it badly.

Rebecca: I think there was a lot of Country Mouse/City Mouse going on in this movie. I actually found myself trying to remember what the mood of the country was in order to figure out why all the railing against wealthy, city people.

Keith: Yeah, it’s weird. Country = Good, City = Bad; Just Folks = Good, Sophisticated = Bad. Missionary For the Purpose of Reproduction = Good, Everything Else = Bad. I can’t believe how explicitly this was laid out in this movie.

Rebecca: And what was the thing with curly hair? John Milton (aka The Devil) convinces  Mary Ann that she needs to have short hair, and I guess straight hair at that, because curly hair was too bumpkin. But then two other prominent women in the film – the creepy neighbor and the Italian half-sister both have curly hair! So, wait, was curly hair good or bad?

Keith: I guess in the end all it says is that tight perms were everywhere in 1997.

Rebecca: They weren’t though! I know this! Tight perms were everywhere in 1987; as a curly-haired woman in 1997 it was very much “And The Cheese Stands Alone.”

Keith: A lot of the men’s fashion was weirdly late 80s, early 90s, too. Maybe the movie had an incompetent stylist.

Rebecca: Well, moving on from the curly hair… In the middle of the movie, when Mary Ann was doing her first gnashing-of-teeth scene, I said to you, “She went on to win an Oscar?” I mean, I guess there’s hope for anyone. At this rate, Tori Spelling could win an Oscar.

Keith: I was hoping for her sake that this was her first movie, but says she was in five things before this.

Rebecca: Yeah, but what?

Keith: She was “Young Woman (Uncredited)” in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest

Rebecca: OK, you can stop. I think we have our answer. This was her first thing. So, yeah, maybe she picked up some overacting on the set of Children of the Corn III.

Keith: She got a master class in overacting on Devil’s Advocate.

Rebecca: I think that’s what really gives this otherwise “C” list movie some charm. All three main characters really, really go over the top and it somehow ends up sort of working…

Keith: I was honestly kind of giddy the whole time waiting to see how you were going to react to Pacino munching down all the scenery.

Rebecca: You know… I kind of tuned him out after a while at the end. I was more distracted by the way the actors had to move around his ridiculous, cavernous, studio apartment. I mean, no bedroom?

Keith: No bedroom because that sets up the “Where does he fuck?” “Everywhere!” joke.

Rebecca: Yeah, there’s a huge choice: do you want to fuck on the floor, the one couch or this makeshift altar. I would like to see that screenplay. I bet that last scene had to be over eight pages long and it was all like, “Milton claps his hands in delight.” MILTON: Can you doubt that the 20th century was my century? OK, first of all, that’s a devil with some short term memory…

Keith: I can’t believe professionals had to block that scene. “Stand over here and rant a while, then move over by the fire… Meanwhile, half-sister, you walk over by the altar with some black candles to prepare the sex altar.” “Now, DP, make sure you shot Pacino low the whole time so he looks evil.”

Rebecca: I was hung up on the fact that the Italian lawyer turned out to be the half sister and then Kevin (Keanu Reeves) was supposed to have a kid with her AND Daddy (Al Pacino) was apparently going to hang around and watch. I guess that’s the point – we’re supposed to think, “What a horrible person!”

Keith: And that kind of depravity is what you learn to like if you live in the city.

Rebecca: And yet every instance I’ve ever heard of someone marrying a cousin or second cousin or whatever has been in the country.

Keith: Totally hopping subjects: I defy you to name another movie that features a cute moppet holding someone’s ovaries.

Rebecca: I didn’t get that entire scene sequence. She’s sleepwalking, sort of, she finds the baby clasping her ovaries or womb or whatever. Suddenly, when Kevin comes home, she’s babbling on about having been to the doctor that day and being told she can’t have kids. She’s completely crazed. It made no sense. And, then we also get robbed of the scene in which Milton has his way with her. Don’t you think that should have been on-camera?

Keith: I think it would have been better that way. I see why they did it the way they did – they wanted the big reveal of her in the church all cut up. But it would have been more effective and less schlocky if it were on camera. Do you feel you learned anything about morality or the nature of evil?

Rebecca: No. It’s kind of like movies in which they try to portray God. Milton could make people die whenever he got a hankering too, which meant he knew where they were at all times, which makes him omniscient and yet he has no idea that Kevin is going to blow his own brains out.

Keith: Yeah, FAIL. Also, having all of the staff at the law firm be demons kind of removes any point about human nature – if you’ve got supernatural evil creatures then you’re not saying anything about human nature. It’s more interesting if the law firm is full of human who came over to the dark side.

Rebecca: Also big fail for not doing more with the mother character – clearly she should have come to New York and KICKED ASS FOR GOD. But instead she’s just Country Mouse all over again. I wanted to see her and Milton get into a fight. Or maybe he seduces her. And she becomes sexy. Like when Sigourney Weaver gets possessed in Ghostbusters.

Keith: Sigourney didn’t wait to get possessed to get sexy.

Rebecca: I’m still disturbed by Mary Ann’s inability to pick the right colors for those walls. I guess I can see why she cut her own throat with a shard of hand mirror. I mean, if you’d picked the wrong colors that many times, you’d lose faith in yourself, too.

Keith: In her defense, she has an evil city demon giving her bum advice. She should have trusted her country instincts for the green.

Rebecca: So, I think we can agree that Al Pacino was the biggest hack in this movie… Is he always a hack?

Keith: He’s supposed to be good in Angels in America. And supposedly there’s some Richard III thing where he’s good. Otherwise it’s all shit from Scarface on.

Rebecca: I hope someday someone remakes this. Actually, I would like the Coens to remake this.

Final Grade

Keith: If we’re doing the “Five Star” scale, that movie was so crazy it gets 18 moons.

Rebecca: I give it a D if we’re talking quality. I give it an A- if we’re talking fun trash.