For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.
A high school valedictorian who gets baked with the local stoner finds himself the subject of a drug test. The situation causes him to concoct an ambitious plan to get his entire graduating class to face the same fate, and fail.
In the toilet room: in the beginning there is no water in the toilet. See more »
You suck, don't you?
Yeah, I suck so bad I just skunked you. Which means, you gotta eat your pills.
You're supposed to be nice to me.
I am nice to you. It's not my fault you got no game.
You suck, Travis.
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The tragedy of this film is really two-fold: First, if you are a fan of Adrien Brody or Forest Whitaker (and respect them as brilliant actors), you have to empathize with their probable shame of having participated in the film at all. As you watch 'The Experiment', it's not difficult to imagine the two actors sitting in some dimly lit bar each day after filming, drinking whiskey together in silence.
Second, the script is poor. Or under-researched. Or over-researched. Maybe both. Maybe their were too many producers sticking their noses in. I don't know.
Imagine that you're a famous film producer and I'm pitching a movie idea to you...
'The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1971. Students were selected and divided into 'prisoners' and 'guards'. The doctors stood back and watched the bedlam.'
What do you think?
Me personally, I want to make this into a film right now. What's more, I want Oscar winners Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker to act the hell out of it.
I don't want to change the story. I don't want to take it into the 21st century. I don't want to ramp up the violence for effect. I don't want to make a big Hollywood production. I want to stick to the guts! Stick to what makes it interesting!
Now imagine you are Adrien Brody. He hears the pitch. He's in! Probably takes a pay-cut just to be involved, the opportunity is so great to show off his talent. Same with Whitaker! Next thing you know the script is spiraling out of control! Someone wants more sex scenes! Someone wants more violence! Someone is looking at test data and decides there needs to be a rape scene! More brutal beatings! And Nazis! Let's get a Nazi! Never mind the implausibility or it all! But Brody's committed. He hangs in there and gives the best performance that he can. But it's lost.
'The Experiment' is an example of Hollywood flying off the mark. It's a perfect opportunity gone wrong. It's badly edited and shouldn't have been released.
Why then, you ask, the 3 out of 10 rating? Why not a 1?
Near the end of the film, as the predictable climax approaches, Adrien Brody's acting saves the film. Somehow he has miraculously breathed enough life to his character that you suddenly feel connected. It comes out of nowhere.
Forest Whitaker is also good in the film, but the lines he seems forced to read are so contrived that it's not worth commenting on here.
I didn't hate it. But I felt bad for those involved.
Maybe you should wait 'til you see it on TV some late night before you fall asleep. You can flick over to the Food Network or something during the boring parts.
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