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Review: Passion Play (TIFF)

Sep. 20, 2010by: Chris Bumbray

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 BollĎs ever made, and then some.


You know, one thing I must admit about this yearís selection of TIFF titles is that for the most part theyíve 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 ďitĒ 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 Murrayís (he wrote SCROOGED and was a producer on LOST IN TRANSLATION). Word around Toronto is that Glazerís spent a decade tinkering with the script for PASSION PLAY, with it truly being his dream project.

Now, Iím sure his heart was in the right place. Itís 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 Iím sure on the page PASSION PLAY might have seemed moving, on screen itís 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 ďpretty birdĒ 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 thereís no way this will be even remotely successful if and when it comes out. Itís 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, itíll be a big set-back in the resurgence of Mickey Rourke, as this is probably the worst thing heís 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. Itís actually unfair to single her performance out as being bad, as she really has nothing to work with, and a film like PASSION PLAY canít be seen as a test of anyoneís 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, itís a stunning testament to the manís talent that he manages to emerge from this mess virtually unscathed. Heís actually quite good as the villain, and for once he plays the role entirely straight (save for his Ďironicí 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 doesnít begin to compare to his best work).

I really canít 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 canít 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 Iíve 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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+1
3:51AM on 09/21/2010

and yet..

..it found a distributor
..it found a distributor
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+0
3:10AM on 09/21/2010
I guess it must be really bad, because you didn't even really describe what was wrong with it, just kind of that it was bad all around. I'm assuming this is comparable to The Room then. Which kind of sucks, because there's a lot of talent in the film.
I guess it must be really bad, because you didn't even really describe what was wrong with it, just kind of that it was bad all around. I'm assuming this is comparable to The Room then. Which kind of sucks, because there's a lot of talent in the film.
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5:17PM on 09/20/2010

Writing with integrity.

There is nothing like reading a review that bashes a film mercilessly and yet is filled with such impressive amounts of lazy lazy lazy typos.
There is nothing like reading a review that bashes a film mercilessly and yet is filled with such impressive amounts of lazy lazy lazy typos.
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4:59PM on 09/20/2010
I kind of want to see it more now. I didn't get to see the Last Airbender so I'm due for a shitshow
I kind of want to see it more now. I didn't get to see the Last Airbender so I'm due for a shitshow
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+7
1:45PM on 09/20/2010

I gotta see this baby

Ever since Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" I'm game for really bad films
Ever since Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" I'm game for really bad films
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11:59AM on 09/20/2010
I guess I could always rewatch "Mad Dog and Glory" to see Murray do his gangster thing.
I guess I could always rewatch "Mad Dog and Glory" to see Murray do his gangster thing.
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11:39AM on 09/20/2010
That's too bad. My interest was really piqued for this one given the trailer and the cast (which I guess is what they wanted). I may still have to check it out though to see if it IS really THAT bad.
That's too bad. My interest was really piqued for this one given the trailer and the cast (which I guess is what they wanted). I may still have to check it out though to see if it IS really THAT bad.
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10:27AM on 09/20/2010
I kind of wanted to see this because of the cast. This is very upsetting.
I kind of wanted to see this because of the cast. This is very upsetting.
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+5
9:23AM on 09/20/2010
I saw this at the festival as well and it was just awful. 1/10 is almost too kind for it. ALthough Bill Murray is quite entertaining. It's just a terrible screenplay that gets further muddled by terrible direction. eeek. stay away.
I saw this at the festival as well and it was just awful. 1/10 is almost too kind for it. ALthough Bill Murray is quite entertaining. It's just a terrible screenplay that gets further muddled by terrible direction. eeek. stay away.
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9:23AM on 09/20/2010
I enjoyed this review-I chuckled. I'd hate to drink the Hateraide, but Fox should really just hang it up, because she is on the fast track to building a legacy as a complete joke if she hasn't already. Rourke is just swallowing up projects too fast and too numerous, and he's better than that.
I enjoyed this review-I chuckled. I'd hate to drink the Hateraide, but Fox should really just hang it up, because she is on the fast track to building a legacy as a complete joke if she hasn't already. Rourke is just swallowing up projects too fast and too numerous, and he's better than that.
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9:15AM on 09/20/2010

Wow....

A part of me was looking forward to see this but your review took that part of me out to a ditch and shot it. Guess I'll be passing on this.

A part of me was looking forward to see this but your review took that part of me out to a ditch and shot it. Guess I'll be passing on this.

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+18
7:38AM on 09/20/2010
So did you like it? :)
So did you like it? :)
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