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Misery (CE)
DVD disk
10.12.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Misery (CE) order
Director:
Rob Reiner

Actors:
James Caan
Kathy Bates
Richard Farnsworth

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After a snowstorm leaves writer Paul Sheldon (Caan) trapped, an obsessive fan (Bates) gives him shelter...and ankle surgery.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
What tough luck writers have: Wilde’s health a d career deteriorated after priso , Keats succumbed to tuberculosis at age 25, a d Sheldo was rescued by A ie Wilkes, his #1 fa .

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.
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary by Director Rob Reiner: Reiner offers up just as many tidbits as he does minutes of silence. Still, plenty of stories from shooting are recounted by the director, who overall remains excited by his 17-year-old picture.

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.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
An essential for King-aholics and a must-see simply for Kathy Bates' Oscar-winning turn as a psychotic fan. Other than that, Rob Reiner's Misery doesn't deserve the status it has gained as a thriller classic. For those that have the previous edition and appreciate the film, an upgrade may be in check.
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