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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Obsessed (review)

Bitches Be Crazy!

It’s moving day for the perfect family as Obsessed opens. Derek (Idris Elba: The Unborn, RocknRolla), a hedge fund manager who hasn’t been impacted in the least by the global financial meltdown, is moving into a huge, gorgeous home in a ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood with his beautiful wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles: The Pink Panther, Austin Powers in Goldmember). They have randy married sex on the floor of their new master bedroom while they wait for the movers — their adorable little boy snoozes in his stroller by the fireplace in the living room. The cozy domesticity couldn’t be more ripe for disaster.
And disaster it shall be, in all senses of the word — primarily, though, of the cinematic variety. Funny? I cannot tell you how ineptly hilarious this “thriller” is, from its weirdly retro vibe — as if the feminism of the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s had not come between manhunting women and the poor saps they prey on — to its outrageous telegraphing of its “big” finale.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but director Steve Shill does. As Derek and Sharon wander round their new empty house in that opening bit, he makes sure they focus on the weak floorboards in the attic — whoops! don’t step there! Then Derek heads off to work, where he first encounters scary temp Lisa (Ali Larter: Resident Evil: Extinction, Heroes), a predatory blonde whom a man would have to be deaf, blind, mentally challenged, and completely unaware of movies like Fatal Attraction and the oeuvre of Demi Moore to not know that she’s bad news. Meanwhile, Sharon is directing the movers to put the glass-topped table there, right under the big dangling swinging chandelier…

If you can’t put two and two together… well, maybe you will be surprised by the finale. If you can add, though… oh, the belly laugh as Shill springs his climax on us like we’ll be startled is almost worth the price of admission.

Well, no: I exaggerate. This feels like a bad episode of Law and Order — Shill’s experience, prior to this, consists entirely of TV episodes of a varied of shows including, yup, that one — but without the wiseass asides from Lenny Briscoe and Mike Logan. Oh, screenwriter David Loughery (who also wrote the far, far superior Lakeview Terrace) tries, but it feels like maybe he’s been watching too much Mad Men lately: “Temp?” Derek’s coworker Ben (Jerry O’Connell: Kangaroo Jack, Tomcats) snorts. “More like temp-tress!” Because men are, you see, utterly helpless in the face of, well, a pretty face and long legs. And also because, you know, “a lot of these single gals” — this is Ben again — “see the workplace as their hunting ground.” Not the plain, frumpy ones, just the ones who are a “smokin’ hot piece of ass” (Ben again… and the women are the predatory ones?).

I’d like to be able to say that there’s some even half-assed pretense toward addressing matters of office politics and how it can sometimes be tough to work with people you are — or might potentially be — sexually attracted to. But no. This is one of those impossible horror movies, like the kind about giant radioactive ants or invading aliens who want to steal our water. Lisa is just a crazy psychotic bitch who can’t deal with being rejected by Derek.

What? You mean Derek is completely innocent? Of course he is! He’s perfect! In a world where we all roll our eyes when an attractive, powerful man insists that he did not have sex with that woman, Derek really did not have sex with that woman. And that’s what makes Lisa go ballistic, you see: bitches be crazy!

Oh, and then poor Derek is further victimized, by his wife, who doesn’t believe Derek that he did not have sex with that woman when Lisa starts stalking Derek, refusing to let him refuse her. Because bitches be crazy, even wives! And then the lady cop (Christine Lahti), who’s called in to investigate when something really bad happens? She doesn’t believe him either! Bitches be crazy!

And that finale? Bitches be really crazy! Especially over men! They just can’t help it!


MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual material including some suggestive dialogue, some violence and thematic content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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