A Perfect Getaway (review)

Get new reviews in your email in-box or in an app by becoming a paid Substack subscriber or Patreon patron.

Another Craptastic Movie

David Twohy hopes you’re not as smart as he is. In fact, he’s counting on you being kinda dim. It’s the only way you can work your way through his new thriller A Perfect Getaway and come out at the end with any semblance of having been entertained. Because he dangles before the viewer “clues” that aren’t clues but screamingly obvious indications to the solution of the “clever” game he’s playing with you, indications that only completely virgin moviegoers — or completely stupid ones — could misconstrue.

Or else Twohy doesn’t care if you guess where he’s going. But I’m not sure if it’s any better that if he merely holds his audience in contempt.
Twohy has written some good B-movies — Below The Fugitive — and some bad ones: The Arrival, Pitch Black. (And he directed some of those, too, as he does this one.) But this must be some sort of new low for the slasher/serial killer genre in how it cannot decide if it’s a parody — if it is, it’s not a smart one — or a straight-up instance of the genre that wants to raise a bar on it… which it utterly fails to do.

Smug? Damn, this is a self-satisfied, arrogant excuse for a film, in which the red-herringness is piled on with outrageous aplomb till there can be no doubt that Twohy is daring you to guess what’s up and hoping you’re not up to it, or not caring if you are. Either way, it seems only to demonstrate that Twohy is out to prove how craftily postmodern and uber cynical he is, even if that has to come at the expense of a satisfying story.

Three couples are vacationing in a remote Hawaiian paradise: sweet, ordinary newlyweds Cliff (Steve Zahn: Management, The Great Buck Howard) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich: Resident Evil: Extinction, Ultraviolet); tattooed outcasts Kale (Chris Hemsworth: Star Trek) and Cleo (Marley Shelton: W., Planet Terror), also just married; and Iraq vet Nick (Timothy Olyphant: Stop-Loss, Live Free or Die Hard) and his Southern-unbelle girlfriend Gina (Kiele Sanchez: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium), who are like something out of Deliverance. As they all embark on a hike through a remote mountain trail to a gorgeous, secluded beach, they learn of the gruesome murders back on Oahu of a couple on their honeymoon by a male-female pair of psychos. Oh noes! Cliff and Cydney (“Cydney”? really?) are totes upset: surely the killers are one of the weird and creepy couples they’re stuck with! What shall they do?

All this is further complicated by the fact that Cliff is an unassuming Hollywood screenwriter who’s just made his first studio sale, and Nick is totally movie-mad and thinks his life — he was there when we stormed Saddam’s palace! — would make a great movie. So there’s mucho discussion about red herrings — Nick insists the term is “red snapper” — and how there’s gonna be “lots of twists and turns ahead” and how vitally important it is to “get the details right… otherwise we’re just making another craptastic movie.” Hmmm…

“You’ve got a good Act Two twist,” Nick assumes of Cliff’s screenplay, and so even if you hadn’t already guessed — from the nuttiness of the preposterousness of how, say, Kale and Cleo are depicted in their first appearance in the film — that Twohy was messin’ wit’ ya, this is the concrete evidence right here. Twohy is practically peeing in his pants with excitement over his Act Two twist — which, frankly, I had guessed from the trailer, and found no reason to doubt up to the very moment it was revealed — and doesn’t care if it’s so cinematically self-aware that it pushes other imperatives of fiction (engaging characters, a logical plot) to the backseat. All that matters here is how Twohy is tricking you… or trying to trick you… or trying to force you into speculating how you’re being tricked.

And when the trick is revealed, it doesn’t matter if it makes no sense, if the diversions Twohy has thrown our way were unfair deceptions. The killers are crazy: they’re allowed to do things that don’t make sense, even when no one is watching except the omniscient camera they’re not supposed to know is there.

Postmodernism is fine. Cynicism is fine. Tweaking clichés is fine. But when the only way you can do that is by jerking your audience around, that is not fine. A Perfect Getaway goes so far round the bend that it comes back again to meet itself in a place that it makes no sense to be in.

share and enjoy
             
If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.
If you haven’t commented here before, your first comment will be held for MaryAnn’s approval. This is an anti-spam, anti-troll measure. If you’re not a spammer or a troll, your comment will be approved, and all your future comments will post immediately.
subscribe
notify of
17 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
The Gaucho
The Gaucho
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 2:48am

So you didn’t like it, I guess ;-)

Recker
Recker
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 3:00am

Wow your just to smart for us all I guess. Oh right you told us all how stupid we we’re in the first sentence… my bad.

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 3:18am

Uh, Recker, the maker of this movie is the one who thinks you’re stupid. Not the reviewer.

(“It’s like ray-eee-ayyyyy-ain on yer wedding day…”)

Recker
Recker
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 6:13am

Let me clarify… I liked the movie and David Twohy is not the one who is trying to make me feel stupid for liking it, the reviewer is.
Hey here’s an example of stating my opinion using MaryAnn as the Vehicle.
MaryAnn was peeing in her pants with excitement when she came up with the comment “virgin moviegoers or completely stupid ones”. See wasn’t that clever? I imagined her peeing then I made it so.

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 9:17am

Again, Recker, the maker of the movie is the one who thinks his audience is “completely virgin moviegoers or completely stupid ones.”

The reviewer is not calling you that. The reviewer is only saying that the filmmaker is treating you like that.

Your elegant and classy example nearly persuaded me to agree with you, though. Yay you.

Dale Cooper
Dale Cooper
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 11:57am

Should we point out that it’s “you’re” and “were?”

Frank from UF
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 11:57am

Recker does make a valid point.

What if I saw this movie and didn’t figure out the twist until the end? According to this review, I must be a complete idiot or a movie virgin.

Maybe Recker saw the movie and didn’t figure out the plot twist. That doesn’t mean he is a moron.

Some audience members don’t want to ruin the movie’s climax for themselves. Not everyone wants to prove how smart they are by trying to figure out the plot twist through the entire movie.

I’m guessing MAJ spent the entire movie trying to predict the ending, and when she was correct, she cast off the movie as predictable.

I hate it when I figure out the surprise ending before it happens. I did it with “The Prestige,” and consequently I didn’t enjoy the film nearly as much as I should have.

Sometimes the audience wants to get duped. In contrast, cynical film critics like MAJ will try everything in their power to avoid getting duped.

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 12:20pm

Frank, you’re proving Recker doesn’t have anything close to a valid point.

I’m guessing MAJ spent the entire movie trying to predict the ending, and when she was correct, she cast off the movie as predictable.

If that’s really a guess on your part, then you did not read the review very clearly. Her critique is not based on any claim about how brilliantly clever she is. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Her complaint results from disappointment that the movie ruins its own “surprise” ending, without needing any help at all from the viewer’s cleverness.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 2:30pm

Maybe Recker saw the movie and didn’t figure out the plot twist. That doesn’t mean he is a moron.

Well…

Seriously, there are huge signposts all over this movie pointing to the killers, and the movie leaves itself no options for veering from that ending.

If Recker did see the film and did not guess the ending, I’d love to hear him/her explain his/her thought processes.

Some audience members don’t want to ruin the movie’s climax for themselves. Not everyone wants to prove how smart they are by trying to figure out the plot twist through the entire movie.

My point is, as Victor Plenty pointed out, that the movie screams its secret from the top of its lungs from minute one. The viewer doesn’t need to do any figuring.

doa766
doa766
Thu, Aug 06, 2009 3:01pm

any necromongers on this movie?

strickler
strickler
Sat, Aug 08, 2009 12:32am

I liked this movie BECAUSE it kept getting you to second guess yourself on what you think will happen. If you can determine the ending, or the secret as you call it, from the first minute, then you are good, because I saw no signs from almost the first half of the movie that gave the ending. Recker is not alone, I bet plenty more people who saw it felt the same way as him and me, so calling people stupid for that is not the right term.

Victor Plenty
Victor Plenty
Sat, Aug 08, 2009 8:58am

Strickler, are you serious? If you really can’t detect any difference between:

A. someone saying “That guy thinks you’re stupid” and
B. someone saying “I think you’re stupid”

then… well, to put this as politely as possible, your powers of observation might not be above average.

strickler
strickler
Sat, Aug 08, 2009 9:39am

Okay, i’ll give you that the clues were obvious, and there to put you off track, but saying that you should know the ending right away….i dont know about that. However, i still see that her statement in the beginning is like saying, if you don’t misconstrue the clues your okay, but if you do you’re stupid. Anyway, I still think the many clues don’t kill the movie. I thought it was enjoyable to keep analyzing the outcomes, since analyzing is what I do in math. haha. That’s cool if you didn’t like it though, not everyone will, just depends.

Alli
Alli
Sun, Aug 09, 2009 10:40pm

Just heard what the twist was, and I guessed it from the trailer. So, yeah… not that hard to figure out. It’s no giant squid from outerspace.

Hopptoad
Hopptoad
Wed, Aug 12, 2009 4:50pm

There seems to be a focus on the fact that MAJ figured out the twist early and what really bugged her about the film.

Figuring out the twist is fine. The Prestige was mentioned earlier and is a fine example because it actually has a couple twists. The difference here is even if you figure out one of the twists, the rest of the film still stands on its own. it is still a mental duel between two very smart people with a terrible grudge against each other.

What MAJ seems to be truly bugged about in The Getaway isn’t completely that the “twist”(TM) was obvious, rather that the director preformed a lot of dubious “magic” to get the plot to go where he wanted. Manipulating the characters and plot logic just to make your twist seem genuine is an unforgivable sin.

…And for the record: I really liked Pitch Black

RobertH
Wed, Aug 12, 2009 10:15pm

I have avoided this movie just because of “the twist” advertising. Generally speaking if a movie boasts a twist its probably predictable.

I’ll wait until the DVD hits. Cheaper.

Nathan
Nathan
Thu, Aug 13, 2009 1:16pm

it’s a good flick, an entertaining couple of hours that wasn’t meant to be anything more than that.

i seriously doubt that Twohy was pissing his pants thinking that he had created an airtight mindlblower of a picture.