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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Mexican (review)

South of the Boredom

“Like, ohmigod, could you die? Brad and Julia together onscreen. It’s like, historical or something. I mean, it’s like they’re both so wonderful and perfect and — ohmigod — gorgeous. They totally belong together. I totally cannot wait to see them. Ohmigod.”

The Brad-and-Julia contingent may find themselves as disappointed after The Mexican as are all those unsuspecting idiots who are going to see Traffic because: Ohmigod, Michael and Catherine… it’s soooo romantic and they have a baybeeee now! Or maybe B&J fans will be perfectly satisfied, because although The Mexican‘s two Movie Stars(TM) are barely onscreen together, this is exactly the kind of vapid and nonsensical fluff that fills multiplexes on Saturday nights when the crap on TV is even worse.
It sneaks up slowly on you, how quite astonishingly awful a movie this is. At first you think it’s just the glare off Julia’s enormous and extremely white teeth and Brad’s blond head that’s distracting you, but soon enough you realize that No, this is a comedy that isn’t funny, a romance that isn’t romantic, and an action movie that consists mainly of lots and lots of scenes of highway driving. Your mileage may vary, but almost certainly you will be pulling your hair out before the end — which is far too long in coming — unless you actually say things like “ohmigod.”

The Law of Brad Pitt is as follows: When he looks terrible onscreen (Snatch, Fight Club), he’s an actor to reckon with, a joy to watch. When he looks good onscreen (Meet Joe Black), he’s terrible. Here Pitt is the cute and supposedly adorably bumbling surfer dude Jerry, whose own ineptitude has led him to work for L.A. mobsters. Now he has been directed to fly down to Mexico and retrieve a fabled and cursed gun, called the Mexican, that his boss wants. But Jerry’s self-help-crazy girlfriend, Samantha (Julia Roberts: Erin Brockovich, Runaway Bride, as annoyingly perky as ever), gives him an ultimatum: Give up the mob work or give up her. Sure, if Jerry refuses to do this job, he’ll end up with a bullet in the head, but is that really too much for a guy to do in order to prove his devotion? Isn’t it so cute how Samantha asks for Jerry’s ritual self-sacrifice? Isn’t it fun how Samantha’s efforts to get Jerry to appreciate her needs really just masks her own selfishness? See, it’s like really deep about relationships, ohmigod, it’s so true, my boyfriend is totally always doing his own thing…

Jerry is stupid, but he’s not that stupid, so it’s off to Mexico, where he gets to be even more adorable by playing the ugly moron American traversing a clichéd stereotype of the world south of the border: grizzled peasants with no teeth (Julia is hoarding them all) who speak no English, dead, bloated cows on the sides of dirt roads, and street festivals in tiny villages consisting of drunken serfs shooting off random fireworks and guns into the air. Jerry is like a gringo in Disney’s MexicoLand, attempting to communicate with the locals through an embarrassing and unfunny pidgin pseudo Spanish. Hey, El Brad-o: It’s time-o to fire-o el agent-o.

Meanwhile, Samantha has been kidnapped by Tony Soprano– I mean, mob hitman Leroy (James Gandolfini: 8MM, A Civil Action,) as an insurance policy against Jerry returning with the very valuable gun. This is the first kidnapping in history to turn into a pajama party, as Leroy and Samantha hit it off, smashingly — who wouldn’t hit it off with Julia, after all: she’s so darling, and what a change for Gandolfini: a nice mobster. They share lots of soothing therapizing — screenwriter J.H. Wyman has managed to create the movie versions of both Chicken Soup for the Hitman’s Soul and Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned from My Mobbed-Up Kidnapper. Ohmigod.

Head-shakingly dumb, The Mexican hopes that the prospect of listening to Julia and Brad bicker adorably will be enough to cover up an unforgivably enormous plothole. The Mexican hopes that treating us to Julia on the toilet not once but twice will charm us so much that nothing else will matter. It’s cozily domestic, see: America’s Sweetheart loves you so much that she is comfortable peeing in front of us all.


MPAA: rated R for violence and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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