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- Published on Amazon.com
There are two questions one has to propose after watching an overwrought parable of a film like "I Melt With You." Is the movie any good? And is it worth watching? I know some who feel these answers are always the same, but I don't. If someone asked me if Mark Pellington's outrageous examination of middle-aged regret was good, I'd have to say no. So over-the-top and patently ridiculous, the movie is an absolute mess tonally and thematically (even to the point of morphing into a thriller for its conclusion). But is it worth watching? There's something to be said about the absolute madness of it all that makes "I Melt With You" sickly fascinating. Even as I was laughing at how inept the story line felt, the movie kept pushing into greater and greater outrageousness. And I must admit, there is an odd entertainment factor to be gleaned from this unpredictability. While it may not be a "good" movie, it patently refuses to back down and play it safe. I respect that as well. My rating, therefore, is divided. I give it one star on merit and three stars for its bold commitment to lunacy. Overall, I'll make it two stars and predict that this is the love-it or hate-it proposition of the season.
The movie introduces four childhood friends who get together once a year for a week of insane debauchery. Without much preamble or development, we meet the guys briefly in their everyday lives before they assemble at an isolated chalet. Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, and Christian McKay play the quartet and it's clear that, as a whole, they've been a pretty privileged bunch. But looks can be deceiving, or so the screenplay would have you believe. Each man is haunted by regret and the life not chosen. Despite being successful professionals (some with families), the trip instantly devolves into a drug-fueled music video of bad acts and excess. The movie, in these early scenes, has so little plot momentum that it seems a repetitive (and rather silly) glorification of poor choices and a complete disconnection with recognizable humanity. As each man faces his supposed demons and idealizes a more innocent time, the movie slows down to hear their hard luck stories. But one tragedy and a childhood promise will forever change these men. I won't reveal any more than that, other than to say that the movie just gets systematically more loony as it progresses.
With pulsing music, disjointed camera work, and absolute hysterics, the movie becomes a preposterous thriller. To their credit, the actors never waver and all serve up deliciously over-the-top interpretations of "real" people. I know some will consider the subject matter provocative and thought-provoking, but it's so far out there--you can't take any of it seriously. But by the time the film enters its final 45 minutes (and the great Carla Gugino shows up), the movie has jumped a school of sharks (not just one) to enter bad movie nirvana. It's so bad, it's good! I'm not sure how anyone would get deep meaning out of "I Melt With You," although its central premise is sound enough. If you do, however, good on you! For me, it's a master class of excess that takes itself way too seriously and thus becomes an absolute treat for lovers of bad movie mayhem. Without the slow start, maybe I'd have rated this higher for the delirium! As is, though, I hated it AND loved it (but for all the wrong reasons), yet am hard pressed to actually recommend it. Despite those that will proclaim it some sort of modern masterpiece, there's a reason its critical consensus on Metacritic is 26 out of 100. KGHarris, 8/12.