Cecil B. Demented
Some food and drink are an acquired taste. At first try you dont like it, you may even be turned off by it. This is a frequent reaction to the films of John Waters. His off beat films are not everyones taste but if you stick to it you just may find yourself surprised. His latest opus is Cecil B. Demented. The title reflects a nickname Waters earned early in his career and the film is a spoof of Hollywood productions. Cecil (Stephen Dorff) leads a radical group of film lovers out to destroy commercial films they feel assist in the dumbing down of America. In order to make their point they kidnap a self-centered diva movie star Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith). Their plan is to force the star to appear in their films as protest against the Maryland Film Commissions approval of the production of films like Gump 2 and the director cut of Patch Adams. The off beat band of cinema rebels attack movie theater after movie theater with their one take form of underground cinema. Adding to the frustration the band feels is the celibate for cinema policy that Cecil imposes. Soon, Honey finds herself actually acting of her own accord against the Hollywood system. This is about all that I can say about the plot since there is more of a theme than plot in this film anyway.
Continuing in the trend Waters started with Serial Mom, there is some notable main stream actors in this production. Melanie Griffith is actually rather funny in her portrayal of the obnoxious Honey. She under plays some on the humor as she did for working girl and demonstrates she can still handle comedy but a lot of the role is played over the top, the only way possible in a John Waters film. Stephen Dorff as Cecil is about as far away form his role as the evil vampire in Blade as it is possible to get. Dorff is another actor that can do outrageous comedy very well but rarely gets the opportunity. The band of misfits Spocket Holes is cast in the way only Waters can an eclectic group of weird actors doing their best. Among these is the beautiful Alicia Witt. Recently from The Sopranos and Urban Legend (her firest role was Pauls young sister in the Lynch Dune), Ms Witt is well placed as the oversexed ex-porn star Cherish. The drug addicted Director of Photography or Cecil is Lewis, played to an extreme by Larry Gilliard Jr. He has one of the better lines about how drugs improved his life by giving him only one problem to focus on.
John Waters is not a director for everyones tastes. He is strange beyond the understanding of many. Still, his humor is funny if only on a sophomoric level. This film is full of little inside Hollywood jokes and craft services and the unions that many will not get. There are also little homages to other genres like when the Union workers from a film Demented destroyed chase the gang into a porn movie and the men emulating Pee Wee Hermans downfall protect the gang in a classic rip off of the Night of the Living Dead. What really helps with this film is the directors commentary. The movie is funnier than ever with the recollections and trivial provided by Mr. Waters.
The DVD is well done. The anamorphic 1.77:1 video is picture perfect. The audio is a little uneven adding to the amateur feel of the production. Besides the commentary there is a Comedy Central Behind the Scenes featurette. If you are a Waters fan already get this one and enhance your collection. If you are interested in Waters but never really seen his work try Cry Baby, Pink Flamingoes or Serial Mom first and then move on to this film and Pecker.