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Review: Bad Lieutenant

Bad Lieutenant
11.20.2009
4 10

PLOT: New Orleans cop Terrence McDonagh (Nic Cage) slides into drug abuse after a back injury during Hurricane Katrina. He falls further and further into corruption as he accosts club goers, steals cocaine from his precinct and joins a gang of drug lords. He gambles to excess, he hallucinates iguanas. He clings to his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes), he takes care of his alcoholic dad's dog...there is a murder investigation in here somewhere as well.

REVIEW: Did you ever go to a party late? One where everyone else is drunk and they're all laughing at a joke? You know that if you were that drunk, you'd be laughing your ass off too. But you're not, and they just sound bat shit crazy. That's how I felt when I left the theater after seeing BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS. Normally I would just pan a movie I disliked this much, but I had to rethink it a bit after hearing a bunch of people talk about how much they loved it or how excited they were to see it. Don't get me wrong. I really didn't like it. (Though I have to admit, it was refreshing to see Nic Cage with a normal hairstyle.) But I do understand how other people are going to think it's brilliant.

We all have those movies that we love, despite their awfulness. (Moreno and I discussed this on The Good, The Bad and the JoBlo Movie Podcast this week, actually.) I love DEATH RACE. I know it's awful. But it's a freaking video game on the screen. They drive over power-ups. Joan Allen says, “Shit on the pavement.” How can you not love that? So I get it. BAD LIEUTENANT just wasn't my thing. But I have a feeling that, if you're going to see this film after watching the trailer, you know exactly what you're getting into. If you're excited for this, you're probably going to love it, warts and all.

Cage seemed to be having a pretty damn good time playing this role. I'll give him that. The joy on his face while saying lines like, "Shoot him again ... his soul is still dancing." is kind of...well, adorable. He's all over the place, and he's loving every scene-chewing minute of it. His voice slides in and out of that nasal thing he did in PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED. He shuffles around like a combination of Igor and something straight out of the “Ministry of Silly Walks”. He grabs his drugs by accosting young guys walking out of bars and has sex with their girlfriends while they watch. He hallucinates iguanas...oh the iguanas. I was with director Werner Herzog for the first twenty seconds of the shaky cam iguana shot, but it just kept going and going.

I'm pretty sure this would have made total sense if I was on some of the drugs that McDonagh was taking. He's screwing a call girl (though I don't think anyone is going to argue with his choice of Eva Mendes, who seems to be the only normal thing in the film) and performs a monologue for her about his childhood discovery of a spoon. He likens it to pirate treasure that he's lost. He finds it and gives his culinary treasure to his adored hooker. Yes, yes. Very deep. If you take the movie seriously...or at least soberly, the symbolism is a bit heavy handed, right? But by the time you get to that point, the iguanas and the crazy drugged-out-nasal-speaking Cage has messed your brain up so badly that it almost seems poetic.

Most cop movies are pretty formulaic these days and I'm have to give BAD LIEUTENANT props for at least being something different. But if you don't get the joke, you don't get the joke. I didn't. You might. And if you do, can you please explain the iguanas to me? Please?

RATING: 4.5/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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