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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Matt the Movies

I had originally planned to write about "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction" for obvious reasons (among them, Sharon Stone's left boob and Sharon Stone's right boob ). I even went so far as to rent the first "Basic," watch it twice in one day and then not return it to Videostop. "Basic " is a truly great film, the type that makes you really hit the pause/rewind/slow-mo button on your remote.

It combines the thrill of gratuitous beav shots with the intrigue of a homicide investigation (think Law & Order: Shenanigan's Investigations "Unit"). The movie took me through the range of emotions: I cried when lesbian-sex-friend Roxie went crazy, I laughed at sidekick Gus' witticisms, I was awed by the Sharon's world-famous box and I marveled at the physique of Michael Douglas' butt cheeks.

"Basic 2," on the other hand, is apparently just like "Basic I," but horrible. It didn't even make it to the Miracle Mile in Lebanon. The nearest theater was in Concord, making the film a four-hour investment I was not willing to make.

So that forced me to come up with something else -- I chose "Thank You For Smoking," a well-received satire about the tobacco lobby currently showing at the Nugget. Adapted from a Christopher Buckley novel of the same name, "Thank You" is a movie not well-suited for this column (i.e. it's too good).

The film tells the tale of Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a master-of-the-universe type whose brilliant spin helps keep tobacco afloat in the early-1990s amid government crackdowns and mounting scientific evidence. (The mid-1990s are also notable as a time period when Joan Lunden and Dennis Miller still had television shows.)

His stunning success takes a turn for the worse, however, thanks to Katie Holmes, who is entirely unconvincing as an investigative reporter slash temptress. When Katie says things like "I want to f*ck you while you are on TV," it rings about as credible as Jessica Simpson explaining the difference between gamma and beta radiation as a nuclear physicist or Angelina Jolie saying the Nicene Creed as a virginal nun. But more on Katie later.

First-time director Jason Reitman keeps the film in "South Park" political territory, with enough venom for both the right and the left. In the hands of a less-skilled director, the film could have turned out annoyingly preachy in the vein of Michael Moore, but the message of "Thank You" remains more amoral. Spin isn't evil, it's actually pretty cool. But I would expect no less of Reitman, whose father directed "Ghostbusters," easily one of the finest comedies of the 1980s, and along with "Kingpin," Bill Murray's finest performance.

Indeed, it's really the acting that makes "Thank You" as good as it is. Rob Lowe is for the first time truly hilarious as a kimono-toting Hollywood agent who is even more devious than Naylor, and Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) is surprisingly scene-stealing as Lowe's assistant. Brody proves here that there may be life post-"OC" -- he could be the next Ben Stiller, you heard it here first (not that I am a fan of the overrated Stiller).

Meanwhile, Benjamin McKenzie will turn out like a white Mario Lopez, cellulite hottie Mischa Barton will lose her eyesight in a freebase accident, and Rachel Bilson will only find employment in her boyfriend's (Brody's) movies, much like the Mrs. Ben Stiller.

The film's big weak spot besides Katie (she really isn't on screen long enough to ruin it) is Naylor's child, played by the creepy child actor who took a bath with Nicole Kidman in "Birth." The attempt at a human element in this emotion-free satire is ill-placed and detracts from the sharpness of the rest of the film.

The big hub-bub over "Thank You" has been focused on the pregnant and brainwashed half of TomKat. Apparently, a supposed sizzling sex scene between Katie and Eckhart was axed by Tom for the film's Sundance premiere because it was too racy, but the sex scene was reinserted for the release. And it was a complete let-down -- not even one boobie.

Holmes is famous now only for her Cruise relationship and her being very enceinte with his offspring. (And she'll probably remain so, given her talent level.) Katie is about to pop any minute, which is really strange because I feel the pregnancy started only like three months ago. (Antichrists only need a few months to incubate.)

The pregnancy is also strange because it's been speculated by French male porn stars that Cruise does not in fact enjoy sex with females. But the number one strange thing is, of course, the Scientology.

I overheard a conversation a few weeks ago about Scientology where one person exclaimed, "Hey, Scientology is pretty cool because celebrities do it, but I haven't read anything about it." That's like someone saying in 1975, "Hey, I don't know much about this Pol Pot fellow, but I like what I've heard so far!" Please, please, do everyone a favor and buy an "Us Weekly" or "New York Post," get your hands on a Tivo'd "South Park" episode, or read Wikipedia before you make outrageous claims about the sanity of Scientology.

Everyone knows about the whole physiatrists-are-bad Tom Cruise episode, the fact that it takes a lot of money to move up the Scientology ladder, and you probably have heard about Katie Holmes' brainwashing and plans for a silent birth, but there is much more to this pseudo-religion/science fiction club. (Please don't sue me Jessica Rodriguez!)

I'll just leave you with my favorite Scientology story, Xenu, which is only revealed at very high (read: expensive) levels of Scientology. As religion stories go, it's just a little more juicy than the adoration of the Magi. In short, part of what causes evil today are disembodied souls of billions of people who were frozen by the evil ruler Xenu, head of the 76-planet Galaltic Confederacy, brought to earth (or Teegeeack) 75 million years ago, stacked around the bases of volcanos and blown up with hydrogen bombs.

These Thetans were then trapped by Xenu and implanted with false beliefs that stripped them of their identities. But this was only one of a series of Alien activity on earth -- who could forget the epic clash 8,200 years ago between the Fourth Invader Force and the Fifth Invader Force, which invaded Earth without realizing that the Fourth one was already here. The third battalion of the Fifth Invader Force landed somewhere in the Himalyas and attempted to set up an implant station, but they were captured, brought to Mars, brainwashed and stuck into human bodies.

You get the point. Katie will probably think long and hard about that story while an entire devil spawn's head is passing painfully through her.