This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

He said - She said ... The Spirit

It's he (Nick Allen) and she (Morrow McLaughlin) talking about the new film The Spirit. She Said

From what I understand of the original Spirit series by Will Eisner, the movie version is a gaudy, heartless sacrilege, but I haven't been exposed to the original. This is a disadvantage for me, because I have no real grasp of whether the movie even comes close to embodying Eisner's unique vision (according to everyone else, that's a big nay); and so I have to go with my gut and my gut wasn't displeased. The movie was hammy and silly, but fully aware--and thoroughly enjoying--its own hammy silliness. Watching Samuel L. with his bonehead clone thugs ("Huevos," "Rancheros," "Pathos," and "Dildos," among others) camping it up to a level of ecstatic extremes is absolutely junk food: no one thinks it's nutritious, and obviously way too much will make you sick and flabby, but it's loads of unhealthy fun in the short term.

Would I call it quality? No, I wouldn't, but it is diverting and pretty to look at. Personally, I don't understand why other critics are so rabidly unhappy about it, which makes me exceedingly nervous. It might mean I'm missing something fundamental, like I'm the only one at the party who likes the charming, mildly weird guy in the corner, because no one told me he's actually a serial killer.

I like mindless, stylized action films. I liked seeing Sam L. goose-stepping around in a Nazi uniform. I liked the visual of death as a glowing-eyed, smoky-haired siren calling out to the Spirit. I like the cartoonish violence. It's not like I want to date the guy, but, I'm sorry, I sort of like the weirdo serial killer.

He Said

But even so stylized, once you accept The Spirit's unique vision and understand this is not Batman and Robin, which pretended to be unaware of its awfulness, but a movie proud of its corniness, it still has no redeeming value. Even at its most basic, fundamental, Joe-schmo core, The Spirit can't offer any lively entertainment. Sure it's amusing, from the (unnecessary) Nazi uniforms to the cat melting, but none of it is exciting, none of it is entertaining. Not once did I care for The Spirit nor his damn city that he basically fetishizes about. I realize after letting this hum-dinger of a superhero movie sink in that there's nothing to be enjoyed. The action is sparse and slim, the henchmen are obnoxious and horrible sources of any type of entertainment, and the villain (The Octopus) spends too much time talking about nothing (which The Spirit himself acknowledges) and hoping that the presentation birthed from the "mind" of Frank Miller can save him.

And the glowing-eyed, smoky-haired siren that you liked, I found to be a giant misstep - a poor choice to begin with. It was simply an odd start to a movie that wasn't going to be mystical but wannabe noir. Which was also a problem because although The Spirit was mildly amusing to look at, with its random colors, white shoes and red ties, black and white/black and red, it still requires a decent story and (at the very least) sufferable acting.

I was thinking while watching this that Frank Miller doesn't like this new wave of serious heroes, and wants to remind us about the heroes that put "comic" in "comic book hero". But he does so with such a goober of a superhero. Despite his ripped chest and supposed allure to women, The Spirit was a total dork, a giant loser who speaks to himself either in narration or to the actual audience, and still thinks wearing Converse sneakers are cool. It didn't help that Gabriel Macht played him like a boring, extremely non-super Clark Kent. I understand if Miller is trying the "anti-hero" or something of the like with The Spirit, but I don't understand how he still thinks this city-lovin' spaz is even any type of a "hero". He hardly saves anyone, and he surely doesn't save this movie.

She Said

I completely agree with your perspective on the film, but I had the same totally unexpected reaction to The Spirit that I did to Speedracer--they are both incredibly flashy and kaleidescopic with zero substance--almost a vacuum of depth. And while I wouldn't go out of my way to talk anyone into seeing it, I enjoyed watching it, because it was bizarre and diverting. It is on the other side of the spectrum when it comes to reality, and as far as glitzy escapism goes, it worked.

However, I cannot, under any circumstances--as a red-blooded American female--agree with your utterly inaccurate views on the lovely Gabriel Macht with the bluebell eyes and the body of a god. He was perfectly in tune with the film's unrelentingly hammy flow and I liked his narrative masturbation on the fine qualities of "his city." And calling him a "dork?" Please--that's like calling Dick Tracy a square. The "gee golly, aw shucks, just doin' my job, ma'am" is part of the cliched 40's repertoire.

Oh, and by the way--not converse sneakers ... black dress shoes with stylized snow. I wouldn't go to bat for any character wearing white converse sneakers.

He Said

Speed Racer was a great experience because it offered what it promised. It was incredibly fun, flashy, sugary, exciting, and legitimate to its source. It strived to simply entertain its multiplex audience, and The Spirit fails to do just that. It's characters are annoying, the jokes are amusing but lame, and the action, is well, barely action. Speed Racer didn't take its dumbness as serious as Frank Miller does with The Spirit. He knows its corny but he thinks its brilliant. As for "glitzy escapism", there's lots of glitz but no escape - this film is a reminder of what goes wrong when a novice director is given too much to work with, and too much credibility for work he only wrote (which includes the super awesome Robocop 2, not the so much 300

And while we're playing the eye candy card, I wonder if I really would have enjoyed The Spirit if I did find Gabriel Macht attractive. But then again, I don't think this would be the case, because as we all know, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes can be hot tamales, but here's they're just obnoxious. No matter how many curves Miller tries to throw on-screen, The Spirit still doesn't interest me. It was like a Russ Meyer movie, where Miller was particular on the cup size of every female in the film. In fact, I'm thinking he was just trying to make us all forget the slightly homoerotic memories we may have had from 300. The Spirit miraculously makes the easy-to-look at Johansson and Mendes boring and uninteresting.

What did you think of any of the ladies in The Spirit?

She Said

I know this is breaking with the conventions of the he said/she said, but I'm going to have to give this one to you. Spirit was a flashy, pretty sh*t sandwich and I, against all reason, enjoyed it. This may mean I'll have to start wearing a paper bag over my head, because now I'm the girl who sorta likes fecal funwhich. I tend to be much more forgiving of lame action movies than I am of limp dramas, fiction or nonfiction, because it still entertains me. If I am remotely entertained, I am a happy girl.

The more I argue this with you, the more I understand I cannot, in good faith, recommend this movie to anyone who isn't me. Hey! All you people out there who aren't Morrow McLaughlin: do not go see this film, because you probably won't like it. If, on the off chance, you ARE Morrow McLaughlin, tie on your bibbies and take your salt and pepper in hand, because one deliciouso burger o' sh*t is on its way.

Do not, The Nickster, take this as weakness on my part. You may have won the battle, but the war is hardly over. I am going to retreat to my caves and meticulously plan my next attack, you devious critic, you.

He Said

Don't be so hard on yourself, Morrow. Ben Mankiewicz from "At The Movies" gave The Spirit his "Rent It" grade, over his "Skip It" (Ebert cut off the show's thumbs and refuses to give them back). Which means he didn't hate it, and he even said something about Gabriel Macht's performance being decent. I think he might have said the word "fun" a few times when describing this black-hole of lameness. You might want to make friends with Scott Hoffman at Moviepicturefilm.com, because he LOVED this movie. He gave it a whopping four stars, has it on his top 5 of the year list, and has his review all over the ads for The Spirit ("it will blow you away!"). However...you might want to stay clear of him so you don't find yourself covered in thrown tomato or the poor scorched victim of internet messageboard troll flaming. With all this, I am basically saying that some people kinda of liked it/didn't hate it. Some people have been able to look past its awfulness, it seems. I am not "trying to kill you all kinds of dead", as our spaz wannabe hero would say.

However, to those out there on the internets: If you like to be simply entertained, like Morrow and I, by even the worst movies, The Spirit is a risky venture into bad movie-dom. It's a very slow 100 minutes, and its action is boring and barely laughable - mostly because this annoying movie is laughing with itself. It's horrible dialogue is intentional, which makes picking on The Spirit not as much fun. For those cautious with wallets, this is NOT the movie to spend your holiday gift cards etc. on. Box office results and critics agree that The Spirit is a lifeless disaster. A majority of fans and critics all say that this one is to skip entirely, or at least experiment with when it is available to rent. However, when that time comes, when you are taking the Saturday night plunge into a colorful film of nothingness, consider adding something like wine to this Spirit.

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