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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Guest movie review: making cheesy 80s sausage

The Guest red light Dan Stevens

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR: I’m tired of all these damn television costume drama roles. I never even get to be Mr. Darcy. I’m always lame-o Edward Ferrars or whatevs. Get me something totally badass.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

INT. HOSPITAL WARD

THE DIRECTOR and THE SCREENWRITER, connected to life-support equipment, lie in hospital beds. They have LONG BEARDS. The Director blinks, opens his eyes, and stretches his arms.

THE DIRECTOR
Dude!

THE SCREENWRITER
Nnngghhh. Fi’ moar min’ts.

THE DIRECTOR
Dude, wake up. We totally survived that freak accident.

A NURSE walks by.

NURSE
Boys, you’ve been in a coma for about 25 years. It’s 2013 now.

THE DIRECTOR and THE SCREENWRITER
(simultaneous)
Excellent!

THE DIRECTOR
Oh my god, dude. We should totally make a movie that’s like all the movies we saw just before we went all coma.

THE SCREENWRITER
Oh my god, dude, that is an awesome idea.

THE DIRECTOR
(proclaiming)
It will be All The 80s Movies.

THE SCREENWRITER
Except no stupid sci-fi. Man, ‘Short Circuit’ was painful.

THE DIRECTOR
Aw, c’mon, dude, ‘Predator.’

THE SCREENWRITER
Yeah, okay, ‘Predator’ was pretty good.

THE DIRECTOR
Okay, so badass military action. With just a hint of sci-fi. Crossed with slasher horror.

THE SCREENWRITER
Holy shit, dude. This will be the Best Movie Ever.

INT. AGENT’S OFFICE

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR enters, sighs, and plops into the visitor’s seat across from THE AGENT.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR
I’m tired of all these damn television costume drama roles. I never even get to be Mr. Darcy. I’m always lame-o Edward Ferrars or whatevs. Get me something totally badass.

THE AGENT
I have just the thing. Can you do an American drawl?

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR
(with American drawl)
Why, I surely can, ma’am.

THE AGENT
Fantastic. Now, you’ll just need to lose 30 pounds, eat nothing but steamed chicken and broccoli, and work out six hours a day to sculpt those abs.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR
Will I get to be superfamous in Hollywood and hangout with Brangelina?

THE AGENT
Uh, sure.

INT. MOVIE SET – HOUSE

A nice American house but not too fancy. There are HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS all around. Including on the MANTELPIECE.

THE MOM ACTRESS
Wait, you really want me to say “I think it could be a good thing for us” for this guy to finagle his way into our home? I mean, he’s just out of the army and knows weapons and probably hand-to-hand combat and is clearly up to no good.

THE DIRECTOR
Do you know how many good roles there are for women over 40 in this town?

THE MOM ACTRESS
Yeah, this isn’t one of them.

THE DIRECTOR
Just say the line.

THE DAD ACTOR
I don’t get it. First I hate this guy who is clearly up to no good and probably knows how to kill people with his bare hands, and then after a few beers he’s my new best friend? That doesn’t make sense.

THE SCREENWRITER
We can still go with Steve Guttenberg for the Dad, you know.

THE DAD ACTOR
It’s brilliant.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
I think it would be artistically meaningful if I maybe accidentally met the cute teenaged daughter in the hallway wearing nothing but a towel way down here around my hips.

THE DIRECTOR
You’ll get to take your shirt off, don’t worry. It’ll be a perfect Tiger Beat foldout and everything.

EXT. OUTSIDE MOVIE SET

Texas or somewhere super American. Lots of BADASS ELITE SOLDIERS run around shooting.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
(shooting back and jumping through windows in slow motion)
Fuck you, ‘Downton Abbey’!

THE DIRECTOR
Cu-!

THE SCREENWRITER
Leave it, dude, that’ll be an awesome extra for the DVD. We can fix it it in post.

THE DIRECTOR
We can do that?

THE SCREENWRITER
It’s the fuckin’ 21st century, dude. I can like do that on my phone.

THE DIRECTOR
Excellent.
(beat)
What’s a DVD?

INT. MOVIE SET – SCHOOL

The gym is decorated for Halloween. Which is a SCARY holiday.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
This is kind of ridiculous, guys. I should call my agent–

THE SCREENWRITER
It’s not ridiculous. It’s ironic.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
You mean it’s deliberately dumb and derivative?

THE DIRECTOR
Exactly!

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
Erm, why?

THE SCREENWRITER
Because cinema is over, man, and there’s nothing left but a death spiral of sarcastic self-reference reflecting and refracting around a dismal hall of movie mirrors and taunting us with the echoing emptiness our creatively bankrupt souls.

The Director SMACKS The Screenwriter in the head.

THE DIRECTOR
Shut up, dumbass!

THE SCREENWRITER
I mean: That’s what the kids love these days!
(mutters to self)
Go back to TV for the love of all that is holy and artistically satisfying.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
Look, I thought this film was gonna be my Jason Bourne moment…

THE DIRECTOR
It’s better! It’s Jason Bourne meets Jason Voorhees.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
Who’s Jason Voorhees?

THE SCREENWRITER
You know, ‘Friday the 13th.’
(sighs)
Scary hockey-mask dude.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
That guy has a name?

THE DIRECTOR
What?! How can you not know that?

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
Er, because I wasn’t even born when those movies came out. Anyway, nobody knows who plays the guy in the hockey mask. This movie was supposed to make me a star.

THE DIRECTOR
It will, it will.

THE SCREENWRITER
Look, man, the ending is awesome. Really. And it’s gonna set up an amazing sequel.
(mutters to self)
Kill me, please.

The Screenwriter WHISPERS in the ear of The Soft Pretty English Actor Who Is Now Hard and Cut But Still Pretty If In A Manly Way And Also Sexily Unshaven.

THE SOFT PRETTY ENGLISH ACTOR WHO IS NOW HARD AND CUT BUT STILL PRETTY IF IN A MANLY WAY AND ALSO SEXILY UNSHAVEN
(aghast)
I’ve seen that in literally hundreds of movies.
(hangs head)
Oh my god, what have I done?

INT. POSTPRODUCTION SUITE

THE SCREENWRITER
(desperate)
It needs more electronic 80s score! And louder!

THE DIRECTOR
Awesome.

THE SCREENWRITER
We still need a title. ‘Overblown’?

THE DIRECTOR
‘Overkill’?

THE SCREENWRITER
This is gonna be the Best Movie Ever.
(sobs)

FADE TO BLACK


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The Guest (2014)
US/Can release: Sep 17 2014
UK/Ire release: Sep 05 2014

MPAA: rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality
BBFC: rated 15 (strong bloody violence, strong language, drug use, sexualised nudity)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    Dude! What could possibly go wrong?

  • Jane

    Is this a movie review? Seems like a personal attack against an actor. Let me guess, bitter Downton fan?

  • Danielm80

    I think she’s saying he deserves better.

  • I’ve never seen *Downtown Abbey.* But thanks for playing!

  • Jane

    Not playing, just truly perplexed by the personal jabs and the harshness of the review. Especially for a film that many reviewers seem to like. It would make more sense if it was a film everyone was trashing.

  • David C-D

    Yay for a good, bitter, old-school review! Just need the link to angry reader mails at the bottom :)

  • LaSargenta

    Dave.

  • LaSargenta

    *happy dance*

    Does the daughter wear a squashed hat as she walks by half naked him in the hall?

  • Bluejay

    Because everyone has to have the same opinion?

  • I didn’t like the film — at all. So of course I was harsh on it. What other critics think of it matters not one bit to me.

    Personal jabs? No. Only professional ones.

  • I’m missing whatever that’s a reference to… :-)

  • LaSargenta

    Oh, nothing really germane…my brain just started bringing in every 80’s movie, not just the cheesy action ones. So, I was imagining the daughter as Molly Ringwald in Pretty In Pink with *that hat*.

  • Ah, right.

    No, she doesn’t wear a floppy hat. But she does make him a mix tape– excuse me, she does burn him a mix CD.

  • bronxbee

    *seriously*??

  • LaSargenta

    Bwahahahaha!!!!!

  • Danielm80

    The John Hughes films are much more entertaining if you imagine that one of the characters is secretly a black-ops killer.

  • bronxbee

    i *knew* this would happen when he left one of the world’s most successful tv series to be a “movie star”!

  • RogerBW

    So more or less Grosse Pointe Blank?

  • Seriously.

  • Well, I’m in a minority here. Other critics love it, and if it does well at the box office, it could turn out to be a good move for him. But there’s nothing interesting about what he’s doing here, and I always wonder how creative people can be happy doing something that doesn’t seem like it will be creatively satisfying. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit… which would be exactly the opposite of a “personal attack.”

  • Bluejay

    Back when he left Downton, I read an article about how he wasn’t interested in focusing on acting entirely; he was going to go be a judge for the Booker Prize or something. Maybe he’s not deliberately trying for movie star status to begin with?

    *googles*

    Here’s an article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/9839860/Dan-Stevens-takes-the-helm-at-literary-magazine.html

  • Beowulf

    It says The Guest Movie Review and I thought that meant a guest reviewer (yeah, I know…). Getting into the “script” I forgot the heading and then wondered what the heck was the name of this film that was taking a thumping from MA. Went to RT and typed in Dan Stevens. Ah, now I get it! “The Guest.”

    Soft British actor: you DO know that he IS an actor. Remember Daniel Day-Lewis? Were you one of those shocked when he was in Last of the Mohicans? As Laurence Olivier famously said, “It’s called acting, my boy.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    Dave’s not here.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Without the cool Argentine Spanish rock song playing over the end credits? And without the weird guest appearance by a former member of Saturday Night Live? And without the endless replaying of a Violent Femmes song which is undoubtedly supposed to mean something? (Maybe they’ll use “Add It Up” or “Kiss Off” next time.)

  • Tonio Kruger

    Anthony Hopkins: Yeah, acting in a cheap horror movie in order to achieve stardom never works. Just look how little work I got after filming Magic in 1978 with Ann Margaret.

    Frank Langella: You got to make a movie with Ann Margaret? Blimey, I never got to have anyone famous in my Dracula movie unless you count that Laurence Olivier chap. And it’s not like he played my love interest or anything. Then again, I should have known better than to expect overnight stardom from appearing in a vampire movie.

    Christopher Lee: *Clears throat* Ahem!

  • Shelly

    You seem to be judging him for the choice he made in taking this role… he had his reasons, and in my opinion I’m so very glad he did – he was perfect for it! At the Q&A at TIFF he said these are the type of movies he grew up loving.
    If you don’t get these type of movies then don’t review them.

  • Evan

    Wow this is a painfully unprofessional and smug “review”. Please go find a new hobby.

  • Try reading some of my other reviews of action movies. I “get” them.

    I’m sure every actor has “reasons” why they take a role. That doesn’t mean their choices and their work are immune to criticism. And yes, of course I’m “judging” his *professional* choice here. Why do read film criticism if you aren’t looking for some professional judgment?

  • Evan has spoken, everyone. I’m done. Maybe I’ll take up knitting.

  • LaSargenta

    Good choice! Arachne did that, too.

  • You know, one of the best things about Bruce Willis is how he never bothered to get all ripped and chisled. There’s something to be said for just letting an everyday shlub be an action hero.

  • See… I know we’ve been over this, but is it really worth having these a-holes show up when the movie’s producer texts his employees to comment on your reviews? Let’s disable guest comments!

    Yes I know… there’s reasons not to. But man. These guest comments aren’t even worth reading, and they’re just in here and I read them accidentally while scrolling down.

  • In defense of the film, the character *is* supposed to be an elite soldier.

    That said, the way to balance out the absurd focus on women’s bodies is NOT to subject men to the same ridiculous pressure to reflect unrealistic ideals. And there’s been a lot of that going around lately (ie, like how Jason Segel got gaunt-looking for *Sex Tape*).

  • the movie’s producer texts his employees to comment on your reviews

    Speculation? Or do you know something? :-)

  • AA

    That was hilarious!

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