You don't know how to whistle, do you Spike?
Spike Lee's "She Hate Me" is a painfully botched half-movie about corporate whistleblowing interrupted by a dumb sitcom about hot lesbian action and sprinkled with references to important subjects just so it will seem to have a point.
By JOSHUA TANZER
At almost two and a half hours, Spike Lee's "She Hate Me" should have been
30 minutes longer and 90 minutes shorter.
This is not so much a movie as a notebook dump. Lee and first-time writer
Michael Genet have taken a few half-developed ideas that weren't ready to
be used anywhere else and cobbled them into a film that just plain doesn't
|SHE HATE ME|
|Directed by: Spike Lee.|
Written by: Michael Genet, Spike Lee.
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Ellen Barkin, Monica Bellucci, Jim Brown, Reynaldo Rosales, Jamel Debbouze, Brian Dennehy, Woody Harrelson, Ling Bai, Q-Tip, Dania Ramirez, John Turturro, Ossie Davis.
Cinematography: Matthew Libatique.
Edited by: Barry Alexander Brown.
Music by: Terence Blanchard.
Related links: Official site
It's the story of a young junior executive with the macho moniker John
Henry Armstrong (played emotionlessly by Anthony Mackie), who's caught in the middle of a huge corporate scandal at
Progeia, a drug company run by an implausible Woody Harrelson and foul-mouthed Ellen Barkin. There's
something about a suicide, something about stock manipulation, something
about drug trials, something about the FDA, and something about we're all
going to jail. Armstrong has some inside info on wrongdoing at the
company, and he has a chance to tell what he knows.
Should he stand up and do the right thing? Or should he be a ...|
Oh wait a minute, forget everything above. That movie is so over.
With a knock at the door, we're introduced to John's ex-fiancee Fatima, who once
jilted him for another woman and has now reappeared out of the blue with
her current girlfriend Alex and a business proposition. The newly
out-of-work hunk can pick up a cool 10 grand if he'll help the two of them
achieve their mutual dream of being mothers. No strings attached. This
scheme goes so well that Fatima sets up a little side business hooking him up with every lipstick lesbian in New York. And the coolest part
is get this he's not doing it for himself, he's helping them
achieve their dream, so it's a pro-feminist male fantasy
fulfillment, don'tcha see. Hold the outraged letters, please.
From here, we veer irrelevantly into family drama for a moment, spend a little time listening to mob boss John Turturro's Marlon Brando imitation, get in a few words about AIDS in Africa and diabetes in America, and a skit about the black security guard who discovered the Watergate burglary. Where did all this come from? Then, wrapping the whole thing up, we drop back in on our originally scheduled corporate-corruption exposÄ already in progress. The cops come in, the cuffs go on, speeches are made, judgements are passed. We know there was supposed to be a point because Lee flashes Time magazine's "The Whistleblowers" cover on the screen and John Henry mentions that whistleblowers are good. But this is borrowed glory. The only whistleblowing we know about is that he checked the phone number for the Progeia Ethics Department Hot Line (yeah, right), and then rather than become the Lone Man of Conscience Guy he became the Knock Up Horny Lesbians Guy. That is to say, there's no real exploration of whistleblowing at all. If this was supposed to be the subject of the film, it's a pathetic film.
Maybe it's okay to just snip your white-collar crime drama in half and splice a sitcom in the middle if you somehow deliver on all your promises. But the first of Lee's many broken promises sets a tone for the whole movie. The opening credits start with a big, jokey broadside against President Bush that sets up high expectations. What devastating indictment of presidential pomposity has he got planned? What allegorical parallels to a corrupt administration will we see in this story? Well, none, as it turns out. The movie has zero to do with Bush at all, which makes the credit sequence nothing but a cheap shot. If you're going to make a political statement, make it but back it up. Don't give us this half-baked, atrociously acted, tin-eared, five-films-in-one, everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-sex, three's-company, heather-has-two-mommies fiasco.|
|JULY 29, 2004|
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