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In Baltimore, guerrilla filmmaker Cecil B. Demented leads a band of cinema revolutionaries who kidnap Honey Whitlock, a bitchy and aging movie star of big-budget froth. Cecil wants her in his movie, a screed against Hollywood they film during blitzkrieg attacks on a multiplex, a Maryland Film Commission press conference, and the set of a "Forrest Gump" sequel. He insists on celibacy; the cast and crew channel sexual energy into the production. With a family-values coalition, aggrieved Teamsters, and the police on their trail, Cecil needs help from porno, kung-fu, and drive-in audiences. What about Honey? Will she bolt or refuse to act? Or will she hit her marks and light up the screen? Written by
Last night, I saw Cecil B. DeMented at a special screening hosted by John Waters, who took questions after the fact. After taking into account my own impressions of the movie, John Waters' apparent impressions, and the comments on this site, I really have to conclude that most of the commentors don't quite get the point. This movie was not in any sense meant to be taken seriously, and yet the detractors label it a hypocritical satire while the fans read it as an honest indictment of Hollywood- in both cases, the commentors are barking up the wrong tree, in my opinion. If Cecil B. Demented is to be taken as a genuine satire, it is clearly meant as a satire of both sides of the argument. Waters does not take sides in this movie- he portrays Cecil and his Sprocket Holes as pretentious loons and cultists, and the "Hollywood (actually Baltimore) Filmmaking Establishment" as tasteless middlebrow panderers. It is obvious in these portrayals that Waters thinks they're ALL pains in the ass- after all, Pauline Kael-ite auteur-lovers ARE pretentious, and Hollywood DOES turn out a lot of lousy shlock. The critic who points out that the Sprockets' tattoos "read like a list of directors kids SHOULD be watching" and who compares the love of Preminger with the dislike of Lean clearly doesn't realize that Waters is in on the contradiction. The Sprockets celebrate "art movies" as they celebrate pornography and Kung Fu flicks. It should be apparent to almost anyone that the Sprockets are no more meant to be role models for the moviegoing public than the makers of "Forrest Gump II" are. First and foremost, the movie is meant to be funny, and it succeeds admirably on that count. True, the humor is sometimes overly crude and often falls flat, but any movie with memorable dialogue such as "Before I was a drug addict, I had all KINDS of problems- now I just have one!" can't be considered bad. Waters seems to consider this film, like most of his others, a lark- a reflection of his own sense of humor. When asked his inspiration, Waters pretty much admits that he just thought it would be fun to suppose what would happen if the readers of Film Threat magazine really took their anger to the next level. When asked if Cecil is a reflection of himself, Waters is quick to discredit the notion, pointing out that Cecil has utterly no sense of humor. In fact, the main target Waters skewers in this film are people who take things too seriously. Judging from the other comments on this page, those humorless people have trouble recognizing themselves in the film.
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