2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Sunday, January 23, 2005

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

Go on. Read that title again. That's right, I saw it.

Now brace yourself: In a way, I'm glad I did. Not that it's any good (it's not, surprise). But it revealed something to me that I'd never quite grasped before: Jon Voight is a goddamn brilliant actor.

It could be theorized that the true test of a great actor is not how he handles his great roles but how he handles the less-than-ideal roles -- the ones that pay the rent and keep the kids fed while he conceivably waits for the great roles to show up at his doorstep. Based on his work here and in several other recent films (certainly we all remember his indescribable "Anaconda" turn), I'd say that Jon Voight is, like Lawrence Olivier and Marlon Brando before him, quite simply worth watching in even the most dismal film, simply because he throws himself so shamelessly into whatever he does. Here, for example, in one of his most ill-advised parts, he does all he can to spin this straw into... well, if not gold than at least pyrite. He affects a ludicrous German-martinet accent and a limp, spends much of the film strutting around like Lieutenant Schiesskopf on parade day and has an endless array of bizarre mutterings and non sequitors (ad-libbed, I'd bet) that prove weirdly amusing. It's as if he's trying to will the film out of suckhood all on his own. I'll admit that I laughed quite often at his near-surreal shenanigans. If only I could say that for the rest of the film.

Alas, Voight is the only amusing thing about this misbegotten sequel, whose sole virtue beyond The Almighty Jon is that it's completely crummy. This may sound like a strange thing to be praising, unless you recognize that it's a sequel to one of the most pathetic and horrifying films I've ever had the misfortune to witness, as well as the only film I've ever needed hard alcohol to see to completion. (I sincerely believe that the left-field financial success of "Baby Geniuses" is the one of the first signs of the Apocalypse.) But if this followup doesn't make a piece of your soul die in just thinking about it, that doesn't make it any less lousy. It may be hallucinogenically bad as opposed to satanic, but it's still a remarkable crapwagon. It's laden with bad special effects and awful plotting and deer-in-the-headlights acting and writing that apparently confuses "genius" with "smartass". There's of course the requisite dollop of scatological humor, though thankfully the phrase "diaper gravy" doesn't show up this time around; however, the script's gravest mistake is taking all this seriously and trying to impart life lessons. If it's not as embarassing as its predecessor, it's only because the cast this time is comprised of people who have long ago lost all capacity for embarassment. There's no earthly reason this film should exist... except for the madman Voight.

And it's here that I must take away that which I have given. Because I'm glad that Voight did what he could salvage this crazed idea and give it the tiny entertainment value it has, but it's his frickin' fault that it exists at all. He executive produced this, as he did the first. He and writer/producer Steven Paul have apparently set up some kind of evil plan to take over the world through bad kiddie entertainment, since they've churned out a fair number of bad youth-oriented flicks since 1999 according to the IMDb, including something called "The Karate Dog" which I think says everything. (Knowing this lends a certain irony to the plot of this film, which involves Voight trying to kill everyone's brain with subliminal messages in his lame kiddie shows.) And, as a special extra bonus, he's using this partnership to foist his goddaughter Skyler Shaye upon the world. The nicest thing I can say about her is that she's real purty. She kinda looks like Alicia Witt except shorter, blond and without that air of carnality. Talent-wise, though... well, she's no threat to upstage the triplets who play Kahuna here, if that tells you anything. So as much as I appreciate Jon for trying to help, he shouldn't have had to. Still, I'd almost tell you to watch this just to catch a whiff of Voight's untethered genius. Except then you'd have to suffer through all the surrounding material. And that would be rude of me to make you do that to yourself.