Awfully Good: Wild Wild West

Before you learn A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST, here's a refresher on a million ways to suck in the west…

Wild Wild West (1999)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Stars: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh

Following the Civil War, President Ulysses S. Grant sends two men to stop a confederate double amputee from taking over the United States with a giant mechanical spider.

Will Smith is lucky he's still the one of the world's biggest movie stars. WILD WILD WEST is so bad that it could easily have permanently destroyed the career of a lesser celebrity.

Neck deep in human excrement—a perfect visual metaphor for this film.

It's easy to see why Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld would want to reteam and attempt to recapture some of the success of MEN IN BLACK in a different genre. WILD WILD WEST follows pretty much the exact same formula, mixing large-scale action with Smith's trademark humor and pairing the actor with another esteemed thespian as his partner. The downfall here, however, is the script, which makes this one of the greatest cinematic travesties of our time and one of, if not the worst western ever committed to celluloid. (It definitely gives JONAH HEX a run for its money.) The story is poorly structured and horribly plotted, the dialogue is unbelievably bad, and the actors…well, they should all be embarrassed.

Will Smith wasn't the only one who knew how to get jiggy with it.

And none more so than Kevin Kline, one of the truly underrated, underutilized actors of modern times. Poor Kline is forced to do some truly abysmal things for laughs in this movie, such as singing and dancing while dressed like a lady prostitute, hypnotizing people with his crotch, and delivering dialogue like "She's a breath of fresh ass." Kline could actually do great things with this bumbling inventor character if written properly, which makes it even more painful to instead watch him get his fake breasts squeezed by Will Smith for a gag that wouldn't even make it on "Three's Company." Speaking of Smith, the star does his best to be both the comic relief and the action hero, but you can tell he's actively hating this movie as much as the audience. Given the amount of atrocious one-liners ("No more Mr. Knife Guy!") and lazy race-related humor, who could blame him?

Ways to make THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 more entertaining.

Kenneth Branagh, meanwhile, is so over the top I half-expected him to start arm wrestling Sylvester Stallone. With his thick southern accent, ludicrous facial hair, and loyal army of supermodel science prostitutes, Dr. Arliss Loveless is a glorious trainwreck of a character and Branagh seems to embrace him full-force. Honestly, he's the only non-boring part of the movie, which oddly makes him almost likeable. By the end, when he turns in to a half-cyborg and starts running around on a giant metal spider rampaging across the American west, I said, "Eh, screw it. Let him have it."

Kevin Kline shows Will Smith what it's like being married to Phoebe Cates.

But at the end of the day the script, by the writers of GHOST DAD and the TREMORS series, is what sinks this mecha-arachnid ship. The film introduces the two heroes in the most ridiculous ways possible: Smith's James West is seen stark naked fighting a bunch of racist white guys (…is it just me or do they totally show his Little Fresh Prince when he stands up?) and Kline's Artemus Gordon is in drag, trying to seduce Buffalo Bill from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. That should be your first warning of bad things to come. What follows is a series of lame set pieces (railroad chases, tank shootouts, killer magnets) strung together by the laziest plot devices imaginable. Not sure how to have the legless Lawless capture everybody? Have Salma Hayek accidentally knock everyone out with sleeping gas! Can't figure out how West and Gordon should escape the desert? Just make Kevin Kline carry a giant magnet for no reason so he can later magically find the villain's railroad track. And my personal favorite—clearly, the only way for Smith to rescue everyone in the end is by dressing up like an Arabian princess, interrupting Lawless' big evil meeting with the world powers, and performing a sensual belly dance until his nipples turn in to flame throwers. Seriously, couldn't come up with any better plans than this?

When he didn't win an Oscar for ALI, Will Smith decided to give it another shot with BEYONCE.

Nothing compares though to the giant middle finger that is the finale. Loveless kidnaps the world's greatest scientists to build a single giant mechanical spider that's supposed to be enough of a threat to the entire country that the President will just sign over the United States. (Seriously, couldn't come up with any better plans than this?!) Of course, when confronted with such a menace, our heroes do the natural thing—build the world's first airplane in five minutes so they can fly on to the spider. Once on the "ship," Loveless sends West below deck to fight his crew, which for some reason consists of a guy who knows kung fu, a guy with a nail in his head, a guy with knife hands, and a man made entirely of metal. Everyone else—Gordon, Loveless and his henchwomen—literally just stands there not doing anything while we wait for Smith to finish beating up all the bad guys. (The Iron Man just kind of weirdly falls over and dies on his own.) For the final showdown, Will Smith fights a double amputee, while Kevin Kline dance fights a bunch of women. It's just one of the stupidest, inane and poorly thought out set pieces in any modern movie. And it all takes place on a giant spider! I have no idea who thought that was a good idea. Oh yeah, Jon Peters, that's who.

In one of the final shots, this film literally gives you the middle finger.

Will Smith's terrible one liners, Kenneth Branagh's southern fried overacting, and Salma Hayek's ass.

A collection of embarrassing things Will Smith and Kevin Kline have to do in this movie, from crossdressing to getting to second base with each other.

Get a glimpse of Salma Hayek's back, and if you look really closely, a shot of Will Smith's front.

Still better than Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" song! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Will Smith is called something racist
  • One of the main characters is in drag
  • Will Smith calls someone "Ma'am"
  • Dr. Arliss Loveless spins in a circle
  • Salma Hayek admits to not being completely honest
  • You see Salma Hayek's ass
Double shot if:
  • Will Smith says "That’s a mans head"

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: JoBlo.com



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