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"Southland Tales"

Directed by Richard Kelly.
Written by Richard Kelly.
Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Justin Timberlake.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  11/12/07


Let me put this to you as simply as possible--"Southland Tales", the new film by the guy that gave us "Donnie Darko", is bad.  No, it's fucking, no, wait--it's fucking atrocious.  How bad was "Southland Tales"?  For the free full-house showing that my friend Ross and I attended tonight, literally a third of the viewing audience walked out of our theater by the time the movie ended.

You always get a couple of folks who walk out of a film before it's over, but this was damn near a mass exodus.  There's a reason for that--"Southland Tales" was really fucking poor.

An ensemble piece that draws a picture of a distant future...whoops, that "distant" future is Los Angeles in July of 2008.  The GOP has screwed the country over and a major action film star (played by The Rock) has discovered a plot by the government to...well, it gets tricky here, but a cop (Seann William Scott, who worked with The Rock back in "The Rundown") has been cloned and now exists in two dimensions, a porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is posing as the action star's wife, an underground movement led by a radical named Dream (Amy Poehler) is attempting to overthrow the government, and a former soldier (Justin Timberlake) likes to get high and has a really nasty scar.

Oh, and if you think that's random, I haven't even gotten to the fact that John Fucking Larroquette is in this movie!!!!

As many of you know, I was not a "Donnie Darko" fan; I've never been a fan of films that try to be weird for the sake of it.  "Southland Tales" will be tough to stomach even for the staunchest of Richard Kelly fans, because not only does the film make no sense, it doesn't even register on the "why was this film ever made" scale through its way-too-long 140-minute running time.  I mean, Christopher Lambert plays a gun runner in this movie...Christopher Lambert, whose last screen role was "Highlander: Endgame."  Embarrassing.  Cheri Oteri, the crazy cheerleader actress from "Saturday Night Live" of late, plays one of the radicals in this movie...atrocious.  This near-future vision is full of randomly-unfathomable violence, then full of randomly-unfunny sexual references (although, I have to admit, it's amusing that Gellar would play a character who would star in a mock porn film called "Cockchuggers 2").  The film never really gets to a funny mocking of today's politics, or today's overuse of advertising, or Hollywood, or police brutality, or good science fiction.

It's a mess, in every sense of the word; when people were leaving our theater, all of them had this shellshocked look on their face, as if even being prepared for weird they had been weirded-out by what had just happened.  "Southland Tales" was finished quite a while ago, so waiting to put it in theaters this long has to be a sign that the studios who greenlit this affair knew what I now know, that a movie has to have some semblance of a point in order to be salable to the viewing public.  This is the new front-runner for worst film of the year. 

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09