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Passion Play
BLU-RAY disk
Jun 16, 2011 By: Jacob Riley
Passion Play order download
Director:
Mitch Glazer

Actors:
Mickey Rourke
Bill Murray
Megan Fox

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The last thing washed-up jazz musician Nate Pool (Rourke) wanted to do was betray sinister gangster Happy Shannon (Murray). But it may be the last thing he does unless he can deliver Lily (Fox), a beautiful and mysterious carnival sideshow attraction.

The stakes can't get any higher for the two lovers as they try to elude the merciless killer who will stop at nothing to keep Lily for himself.

It is a bizarre trip and it is not going to be one many enjoy ...
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I hate to be the asshole critic but how much cinematic punishment are you capable of taking? This is a legitimate question, because PASSION PLAY will push the boundaries of your patience, intelligence and will leave you with an overwhelming sense of "Well, there's an hour and a half I'll never get back".

PASSION PLAY is simply horrible, you really can just stop reading my review here if you have better things to do, I understand what a valuable commodity time is after 94 minutes of mine was stolen from me, so I won't begrudge you to move on with your day because the rest of this baby is going to be a mixture of cathartic rant and confusion.

You know those awesomely awful flicks that are so bad that they come full circle and a great? Yeah, PASSION PLAY is not one of those. It's true that it somehow sinks it's hooks into you and you find yourself unable to look away and almost enthralled in banality of it but it has to be out of disbelief more than anything else. I was dumbfounded by what was on my screen.

PASSION PLAY has some talented people on both sides of the camera and the fact that this movie just rubbed me the wrong way so much just astounds me. I don't think it is the the fault of the actors, they weren't giving award winning performances but they seemed to make the most of the material they had to work with. So where does the blame lay? I guess I'll start with the writing and direction...

Mitch Glazer is a talented writer and PASSION PLAY is his directorial debut. I think I understand what he was trying to achieve and if he pulled it off it would have been beautiful poetic tragedy in the classical sense but he fell short somewhere along the line and he wound up with a plain old tragedy on his hands. He is the writer behind the classic Bill Murray holiday flick SCROOGED (Apparently Murray did this film as a favor t Glazer) and that is a perennial favorite of mine so he has the capability to create, or at least adapt, a solid story. What PASSION PLAY suffers from is a lack of a solid story. It forces film noir cliches at us in the place of any actual character development and is just generally heavy-handed in it's delivery, such as replacing emotional baggage with actual physical attributes and making literal what would probably best be explored metaphorically (i.e. Megan Fox always being caged up or her ridiculous CGI wings). Consequently everything other aspect of the film struggles to pick up the slack.

Again I want to stress that the shortcomings of PASSION PLAY aren't really the fault of the actors, at least not completely, some of them even have glimmers of greatness in spite of the material. Mickey Rourke assumes the role of Nate, a down on his luck trumpet player working a carnival under the tyrannical rule of a gangster played by the always sardonic Bill Murray. We all know that Rourke has emotional range, if you've seen THE WRESTLER or even THE EXPENDABLES it is evident that he has the chops to work the heavier material but his deliver in PASSION PLAY feels forced. He doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong or different from his other films but it isn't believable and I just can't connect with his character. Megan Fox plays Mickey Rourke's love interest, a tortured soul, and despite having shoddy CGI angel wings (that I am pretty sure change size, color and style throughout the film and not on purpose) and a few horrible green screen scenes for what it's worth PASSION PLAY is one of her stronger performances to date.

What can be said about Bill Murray? It's hard to tell if he is phoning it in anymore because he plays every role with the same amount of jaded sarcasm and I am generally OK with it a d in comparison to the rest of PASSION PLAY he was one of the few things that stood out in a good way.

PASSION PLAY is definitely unique, I'll give it that much, but that doesn't mean it is going to be a good watch or even an entertaining one. It strives for something powerful and full of emotion and fails miserably leaving you sitting there wondering what you just witnessed and how long it will take you to forget about it. I never thought I'd find myself giving a movie a 1/2 star review ... but here we are.
THE EXTRAS
Mercifully, there is virtually nothing in the way of extras except for a trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
There has got to be a less painful way to see Megan Fox sideboob ...

There's always the chance that I just didn't "get it" but I honestly feel PASSION PLAY is not worth your time. The film is definitely a trip, but not in an enjoyable way and in the final few moments the PASSION PLAY pretty much discredits the previous 90 minutes of its run-time. JoBlo's in-house critic Chris Bumbray created his theoretical "Movie Jail" because of this cinematic oddity, hopefully there is a death row.
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