Nate just can't catch a break. A down on his luck trumpet player, the guy is now the target Happy Shannon, the city's most notorious hustler. Seems Happy doesn't take too kindly to Nate for boinking Happy's late wife. After being kidnapped and set to be rubbed out in the desert, Nate is rescued by indians and happens upon a circus in the desert. The circus is home to Lily, a birdwoman who actually has wings on her back. Nate helps Lily escape her forced carnival life and takes her to the big city with plans to present her to Happy in exchange for his life. Things change, of course, when Nate starts to fall in love with Lily.
Poor Mickey Rourke. After his comeback with THE WRESTLER and starring in THE EXPENDABLES, he ends up in this film. PASSION PLAY garnered some rather not so nice word-of-mouth from the crowds at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, where director Mitch Glazer had to defend the version being shown at the festival as being unfinished. Well, that was his explanation for the stinker that crowds were witnessing. With the film now on DVD and Blu-Ray, is this supposed new cut any improvement over the wreck that was shown at the festival? Even though I never saw the festival cut, after seeing this version of the film, it's hard to imagine PASSION PLAY being any worse.
Where does one begin? I guess you can start with the casting of the roles, which look to have been an experiment gone wrong. Pitting Mickey Rourke against Bill Murray is laughable to begin with. We know Bill Murray can be a dickhead, but not one that seems hell-bent on killing someone at a moment's notice. Bill acts like he's either half-interested or half-asleep with his delivery, but still manages to come off as somewhat of a charmer. Rourke let it be known that the film was garbage, and tries his best to work with the shoddy material, but it's a struggle. Then again, everyone seems to be struggling with the mountains of dialogue in the film, which is probably why Murray seems like he's ready to fall into a coma. As for Megan Fox, she spends much of the time being teary-eyed, upset and over-emoting. At least she looks good doing it. Oh, and keep selling the fact that you have those awful CG wings, too!
Moving on, the film is what you'd call the definition of pretentious. From what I gather, PASSION PLAY is Glazer's attempt to portray Rourke's character in a Christ-like fashion. That is, the character of Nate goes through a time of suffering and eventual redemption, but it's all done in a painfully slow, ham-fisted and clichéd way. Nate's idea for busting Lily out of the circus? To put her in a glass box to once again be gawked at by curious onlookers and to appease Happy. Oh, and if you're wondering, there is a sex scene involving Nate and Lily, complete with those wonderful CG wings! And is it just me, or does it seem creepy how both Rourke's and Murray's characters fawn over Lily? Both men are pushing 60, and Megan Fox is 25. Yeah.
The only sort of good thing I can say about this film (other than the end credits) is cinematographer Christopher Doyle's attempt to get some sort of visual richness out of this thing. Aside from the obvious green screen shots, there's a sort of attempt at adding a dreamy sort of feel to the film. That comes crashing down once you're hit with a mountain of dialogue and half-assed acting.
PASSION PLAY is an exercise is torture. Not only do you know that there are Oscar-nominated actors caught in this film trying to salvage something out of this clusterf*ck, but the dialogue, story and just plain absurd attempts at being 'arty' bombard you until you're left curled up in the corner, begging for it to stop. If you're hankering for Megan Fox, watch JENNIFER'S BODY. For Mickey Rourke? THE WRESTLER. For Bill Murray and Mitch Glazer? You can knock off both by watching SCROOGED. This film? Use it as a practical joke on someone you really hate.
Video: Sporting a 1080p 2.39:1 widescreen transfer, the film looks good. The Blu-Ray provides some great detail, making the crappy CG wings look crappier and Mickey and Bill's aged faces look worn without any DNR to smooth things out. There's a fine level of grain throughout, but never distracting.
Audio: The film is also equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that isn't as good as the transfer, but delivers when needed. There aren't a lot of ambient or directional effects in the film, but that leaves room for the dialogue to take center stage, clear and free of distortion.
The only extra to be found is the film's trailer in standard definition, no less. I guess Glazer gave up trying to defend his film with any sort of commentary. That, or no one wanted to pony up any more money for him or his film.
What do you get when you take two Academy Award-nominated actors, a 'promising' young actress and a director's lifelong dream film? Utter disbelief at how sh*tty of a film the results turn out to be. If seeing Meghan Fox with crappy CG wings clutching an awe-struck (or dumbfounded) Mickey Rourke and flying against a painfully obvious green screen is your thing, fast forward to the end of the film. Everything else before it might as well make room for heavy drinking.