Movie review: Southland Tales (2007)

Southland Tales may be the worst movie I have ever seen. The plot is unclear. The scenes disjointed. The dialogue is laughable when it is not shocking.

On the surface, the movie is a dystopian look at the US after a nuclear attack in Texas. (This is about the first and last time we hear about the attack.) The US has devolved into a police state with visas needed to cross state lines. Chaos and riots are the norm with Big Brother constantly watching, even watching people in toilet stalls in airport bathrooms.

I had trouble making heads or tails out of the plot. About 20 minutes into it I became convinced that the movie was mocking itself; it was a parody of bad, bad movies. But then I realized it wasn’t mocking itself. It was taking itself very seriously.

And then I thought that Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was just around the corner. Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo were going to sit down any minute now, and the alternative script that they are known for will start flowing. Only it didn’t. Too bad. Southland Tales is one of those B-grade movies that would have been perfect during the heydays of MST3K.

The dialogue is unreal and often quite offensive. It is always quite stupid. The movie is full of non-sequiturs and inane comments. “There’d be a lot less violence in the world if everyone got a little more cardio.” Okkkaay. Or how about this one? “Scientists are saying that the future will be far more futuristic than they originally predicted.”

Sex is the underlying (and not so underlying) theme. The main character (played by The Rock) is involved with the ultimate porn star. Discussions involve things like whether having sex on a flight from London and then taking the morning after pill would make it the morning before pill. In another scene, a disguised voice behind the extortion of a politician calls herself Deep Throat 2. Later in the movie, a woman who tracks down The Rock on the beach holds a gun to her head and tells him that she will kill herself unless he let her perform an unmentionable act on him (my words, not hers. Her words were quite graphic).

None of this makes much sense. There seems to be no point to the sexually blatant dialogue or actions or really anything in the movie. The movie is offensive and in poor taste.

I concur with the negative reactions at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this movie. (Or watch it as a part of a MSTK3-style evening.) There are lots of famous actors in the film, but I am betting that in hindsight, they wished they weren’t a part of this “creative” endeavor.

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