Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
I was the only one laughing during the Monday night screening of “Cecil B. Demented,” now playing at Landmark’s Bridge theatre in San Francisco. It was far from a packed house: nowhere near the hordes who waited patiently for hours to see “The Blair Witch Project” last century. As always, John Waters has something to offend everyone. Be on his side, Baby, & you’re likely to get shoved out of the projection booth in a flash after years of worship from afar. Set entirely in Baltimore, “Demented” is the tale of a Hollywood star on the skids (played to perfection by Melanie Griffith) who deigns to make an appearance at a Maryland benefit screening to promote her latest sappy Hollywood flick. She is kidnapped at gunpoint & forced to star in the latest underground indie epic of Stephen Dorff as Cecil B. Demented. Cast & crew have forsworn sex (but not drugs or violence) during the making of the film, which co-stars Alicia Witt & Adrian Grenier.
It goes without saying that John Waters has something mean to say about everyone, up to & including the loyal audiences who love him to bits. He reserves an extra special supply of venom for Hollywood sequelitis as applied to the worst film of the twentieth century which brought home a fistful of Academy Awards in the spring of 1995. Patricia Hearst appears as the mother of one of the kidnappers, pleading with her baby to come home: the parallels to her own real-life saga circa 1974 are genuinely eerie. Through it all, Dorff focuses with the intensity of a laser beam during ocular surgery & Griffith, toughened by studio pampering, is humanized by her association with the guerrilla gang. You’ll either love or hate Waters’ latest demystification of Hollyweirdland, but you’ll find it hard to forget as you sneak into your next multiplex for a visit.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 8/16/00
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