Cecil B. DeMented (2000)

reviewed by
Steve Rhodes

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****):  ***

"Power to the people and punish bad cinema!" screams director Cecil B. Demented (Stephen Dorff from BLADE). He is the leader of a young group of cinema terrorists and a self-described "prophet against profit" in making motion pictures.

CECIL B. DEMENTED is another deliciously over-the-top movie by that bad boy of indie films, outrageous writer and director John Waters. Although his last picture (PECKER) was a disappointment, most of his movies, such as SERIAL MOM, are real treats. And this latest one of his is perhaps his best ever.

Melanie Griffith, delivering her first good performance since, well, I don't remember when, plays the lead, a self-absorbed star named Honey Whitlock. Honey coos sweet nothings to the press but, behind the scenes, is a trash-talking bitch.

Waters has the audience in stitches with the opening scene, which shows a multiplex whose films, according to the marquee, are STAR WARS, STAR TREK, STAR WARS, STAR TREK, STAR WARS and STAR TREK. These titles and others dissolve into the film's credits. Keep your eye out for other marquees during the movie. The best advertises PATCH ADAMS: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT.

Honey is kidnapped by Cecil and his band of cinema outlaws. (Since Honey is kidnapped, much like Patty Hearst was, Waters, in perfect bad taste, gets Patty Hearst to play a cameo part in the movie.) Cecil wants Honey to star in his reality-based movie. His horny crew, which includes an ex-porn star, Cherish (Alicia Witt), has "taken a vow of celibacy for celluloid" until it's a wrap, so Cecil tells Honey that she's safe with them.

The movie is filled with film industry in-jokes. Every member of the crew threatens Honey if she doesn't perform precisely as required. The cinematographer, for example, tells her just what will happen to her if she doesn't hit her mark. She is also required to do her own stunts even if they may kill her. "Suffer for celluloid!" screams Cherish as she makes Honey leap off of a building for her art.

The movie skewers everyone from unions to drug addicts. "Before I was a drug addict, I had so many different problems," says a coke-head and glue-sniffer played by Adrian Grenier. "Now I only have one problem."

Waters stages fights using fans of various film genres (family, action and porn), managing to poke fun at each. A scene inside a porn house playing one Cherish's movies is one of CECIL B. DEMENTED's funniest sequences.

Waters even comes up with a catchy little song and a motto, "Demented Forever," that will likely stay with you and remind you of this wacky and thoroughly enjoyable movie.

So what is the ultimate insult to a deep, deep underground director like Demented? A prudish looking, family-film aficionado tells Demented that, "You're direct-to-video." Oh, the pain!

CECIL B. DEMENTED runs a fast 1:28. It is rated R for strong crude sexual content, violence, language and drug use and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Email: Steve.Rhodes@InternetReviews.com Web: http://www.InternetReviews.com

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