Paul Sheldo has just fi ished his latest ma uscript (“I might just write somethi g I wa t o my tombsto e”), a departure from his beloved character Misery Chastai . E route from Colorado to ew York City, a s owstorm (that old horror staple) flips his car. He’s take u der “care” by Flore ce ighti gale- orma Bates hybrid A ie Wilkes—but we get the feeli g a Jack Torra ce departure would’ve sat just as icely with Paul. Much of the plot focuses o Wilkes forci g her ew roommate i to resurrecti g her dear Misery from the grave.
James Caa , who remai s bedridde for 80% of the movie, is ’t give much to do other tha look pai ed a d play mouse to Kathy Bates’ cat. Misery is Bates’ show, a d she grips the audie ce every hobbli g step of the way. Bates (photographed u comfortably by Barry So e feld) plays the pull-stri g mo ster almost as a off-kilter Purita , toppi g obsce ities like “cockadoodie” with a si ister smile. A ie Wilkes could ’t have bee embodied a y other way tha what Kathy Bates does here.
Paul’s age t (Laure Bacall) grows co cer ed with her clie t’s disappeara ce a d alerts Silver Creek chief of police/sheriff Buster (Far sworth), who co ducts a search missio with the aid of his wife (Fra ces Ster hage ), a helicopter pilot, a d the ge eral store ow er. Far sworth’s mome ts are welcomed, as they ot o ly provide a capable male lead, but remedy, temporarily, our cabi fever.
Subtlety is ot o e of the paths Misery cares to embark upo . As a icy pre-third act reveal illustrates, A ie killed patie ts at the hospital she was employed (the ovel takes her wrap sheet much further), a piece of i formatio that is both overwhelmi g a d superfluous.
The picture is helmed by Rob Rei er, the u likeliest of directors to adapt Stephe Ki g’s 1987 ovel (Rei er also adapted Ki g’s Sta d By Me for the scree ). A d though Rei er’s career prior to 1990 has focused o ostalgia a d charm, Misery does ’t prese t itself as a risky departure for the Spi al Tap manager, but more of a misstep i both style a d prese tatio . As u ervi g a d memorable as Rei er tries to make Ki g’s work, the e d result is Millio Dollar Movie schlock.
Audio Commentary by Screenwriter William Goldman: This second commentary is the looser of the two, leaving more gaps than Reiner did. Not the technical discussion we expect, but worth skipping around.
Misery Loves Company (29:51): Reiner, Caan, Bates, and others sit down for this in-depth featurette that focuses heavily on the production of Misery. The cast/crew reminisce on their initial involvement, pay tribute to the late Richard Farnsworth, discuss DP Barry Sonnenfeld’s contributions, analyze Annie Wilkes, and much more. Far more informative than a retrospect piece typically is; a definite watch.
Marc Shaiman’s Musical Misery Tour (14:28): The Academy Award nominated composer discusses his approach to scoring a motion picture, also noting (through clips) the significance of the score’s role in the finished product.
Diagnosing Annie Wilkes (8:47): Reid Meloy, Ph. D runs down the weighty list of psychological disorders Annie possesses. A useful addition to the movie that helps to diagnose Paul Sheldon’s #1 fan.
Advice for the Stalked (4:57) suggests the victims keep all evidence of their stalker’s presence.
Profile of a Stalker (6:17) categorizes and points to the traits of the “malicious” individuals.
Celebrity Stalkers (5:07) illustrates the stalker’s obsession with celebrities and this is incorporated into Misery.
Anti-Stalking Law (2:22) goes into the three parts of the law: 1) repeated harassment, 2) a credible threat, 3) the victim is in reasonable fear.
A Theatrical Trailer and the eerie Season’s Greetings Trailer round out this Collector’s Edition.