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"Wild Wild West"

Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black").
Written by S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman.
Starring Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  7/3/99


These are the reviews that I love doing most:  the bad ones! 

Because I am probably the biggest loser that any of you know, I see a lot of movies, with a lot of different people.  And, I always enjoy seeing how other people view some of the trailers that appear before movies.  For example, most everyone enjoys the "Bowfinger" trailer (Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin) and I loved the gasps and the applause that always accompanied the "Star Wars" trailer.  In contrast, whenever the "Wild Wild West" trailer was shown, the comments ranged from "Man, that's gonna suck" to "Man, that's probably gonna suck."

Adding to this, myself, C-Lo, The Fist, and Tina "Not Sheila" E decided before we paid to see the movie that the movie was going to be bad--we were just going to laugh and be merry, as friends should do.  EVEN WITH THIS IN MIND, The Fist literally left the movie theater and said, "That was fucking shit."  The double expletive!  Tina thought this had Hard Vice written all over it.  Cindy agreed that it was bad, but was it that bad?

Upon further review, yep.  It blew.  Sucked.  Tanked.  In terms of high-quality people involved, this, unfortunately, will surpass "Batman & Robin" as the worst movie I've ever seen with major stars in it.  Even though this was a comedy, none of the jokes made half of my party laugh during the entire thing.  Cindy and I giggled at a couple of the silly sex jokes, but that was really it.  And, there is almost no action.  It's a Will Smith movie!  If it doesn't have laughs or action, what is he doing in it?

The problems are easy:  despite casting Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline (in two parts), and Smith, there is no acting quality whatsoever.  It doesn't help that the script is so by-the-book that you can see everything coming.  The special effects of that giant spider you've seen in the previews are nice, but they don't add anything to the story.  I don't understand why the writers decided to have so many instances where it's pointed out to the audience that yes, Will Smith is playing a black cowboy in the old west, so we should call him "boy", just to piss him off.  And whenever Branagh (the bad guy) is talking to Smith, he has to call him "dark stranger."  This gets old terribly quickly.  And because Smith is the only black character in the movie, he gets to slip into "ahh, massa"-talk for supposedly-humorous effect.  It didn't work with me.  Why not just cast a white character in the movie--James West was a white character on the TV show?  Hmm...and, when Smith goes to the White House to meet with the President, everyone in the White House EXCEPT the President thinks that Smith should be cleaning the floor.  Why?

And, the one real shining hope I had in this movie was Salma Hayek.  It's enough that, according to Claudia "Boxers" Hanna, Hayek is only 5'3", ruining my hopes that in fact she was much taller.  Now, she's gotten down to playing bit parts that don't make any sense.  She was disappointing, and that includes the brief 3/4-ass shot she has in this movie.  She needs to make "Desperado II" as soon as possible.

But, back to Smith, who I am starting to lose faith in.  Maybe it's the last 5 or 6 songs he's put out that have all been tied in to title movie tracks, or maybe it's the "4th of july-or-bust" mentality studios have had when releasing his films, but I'm starting to put Smith in the sellout category.  I'm happy for his success, and I think he's a pretty cool actor, but I'm starting to lose faith in his decision-making. 

I'll wait for his next movie before I pass judgment.

The plot isn't worth talking about with this movie, because there really isn't any.  But, believe you me, this one is bad, with a capital shit.  It's not often that a movie is worse than already-bad expectations, and that's saying a lot.  This is now on my worst-ever list.  (Remember, as with all hard vice-rated movies, avoid seeing this movie at all costs, or no costs--even if you can see it for free!)

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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The "fine print":
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