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Review: Passion Play (TIFF)

Passion Play (TIFF)
09.20.2010
1 10

PLOT: A junkie trumpet player (Mickey Rourke), on the lam from a mobster (Bill Murray), falls for a beautiful winged woman (Megan Fox) appearing in a circus sideshow.

REVIEW: There a bad movies and then there are BAD movies.

PASSION PLAY is a BAD movie.

Astoundingly bad.

Unfathomably bad.

As bad as any film Uwe Boll‘s ever made, and then some.


You know, one thing I must admit about this year’s selection of TIFF titles is that for the most part they’ve been truly exceptional. Heck, even the inevitable disappointments or bad movies have had something that justifies their inclusion in the fest- but PASSION PLAY?

The only way I can fathom something like this getting into the fest is due the high profile cast including the newly vital Mickey Rourke, former “it” girl Megan Fox, and the one and only Bill Murray. It marks the directorial debut of Mitch Glazer, a well regarded writer and long-time pal of Murray’s (he wrote SCROOGED and was a producer on LOST IN TRANSLATION). Word around Toronto is that Glazer’s spent a decade tinkering with the script for PASSION PLAY, with it truly being his dream project.

Now, I’m sure his heart was in the right place. It’s essentially a fable, with the downtrodden Rourke being redeemed by his love for the angelic Fox. However, modern day fables are not the easiest thing to make work. While I’m sure on the page PASSION PLAY might have seemed moving, on screen it’s nothing more than a big joke. The TIFF audience I saw this with chuckled throughout, with certain audience members openly heckling the big love scene with cries of “pretty bird” a la DUMB AND DUMBER.


Frankly, the best thing for everyone involved with PASSION PLAY would be for this film to never see the light of day. They should accept the loss and burn the negative, as there’s no way this will be even remotely successful if and when it comes out. It’s just such a disastrously bad film that the only way it can possibly work is as an unintentional comedy.

If by chance this does get a high profile release, it’ll be a big set-back in the resurgence of Mickey Rourke, as this is probably the worst thing he’s ever done, even when compared the slew of films that helped destroy his career in the early nineties. Pairing the ancient-looking Rourke with Fox was a mind-bogglingly bad idea, and their inevitable love scene (complete with LOTS of feathers) comes off a creepy as opposed to romantic.

As for Fox, as the angelic, winged beauty- well, this is not going to win her any accolades. The only positive effect this film could have on her filmography is that it makes JONAH HEX look like a masterpiece. It’s actually unfair to single her performance out as being bad, as she really has nothing to work with, and a film like PASSION PLAY can’t be seen as a test of anyone’s ability. However, if this was an attempt to broaden her talents, well- this was a horrible choice as a follow-up to her last few under-performing films.

As for Bill Murray, it’s a stunning testament to the man’s talent that he manages to emerge from this mess virtually unscathed. He’s actually quite good as the villain, and for once he plays the role entirely straight (save for his ‘ironic’ name- Happy). Despite his slight build, and unthreatening physique, he actually comes off as menacing, and he gives the one truly convincing performance in the film.

Alas, not even Murray can save this mess. Another thing that blows my mind is that somehow, Christopher Doyle was brought on board as the Director of Photography. Such a dumb film is a remarkable waste of his talent, but as least the film is pretty to work at (although it doesn’t begin to compare to his best work).

I really can’t stress enough how much I hated PASSION PLAY. I positively loathed it, and actually found sitting through the film an insulting experience, and unlike most, I got to see it for free as a member of the press. I can’t imagine the reaction of anyone unfortunate enough to lay out their hard earned cash on it.

Truly, PASSION PLAY is a debacle, and not only the worst film of the year, but perhaps the worst film of any year. Truly one of the worst films I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through, and an unfair taint on the otherwise spectacular Toronto International Film Festival.

Extra Tidbit: This gets one point only due to Bill Murray. Otherwise it would be a zero.
Source: JoBlo.com

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