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In Baltimore, guerrilla filmmaker Cecil B. Demented leads a band of cinema revolutionaries who kidnap Honey Whitlock, a bitchy and aging movie star of big-budget froth. Cecil wants her in his movie, a screed against Hollywood they film during blitzkrieg attacks on a multiplex, a Maryland Film Commission press conference, and the set of a "Forrest Gump" sequel. He insists on celibacy; the cast and crew channel sexual energy into the production. With a family-values coalition, aggrieved Teamsters, and the police on their trail, Cecil needs help from porno, kung-fu, and drive-in audiences. What about Honey? Will she bolt or refuse to act? Or will she hit her marks and light up the screen? Written by
All you `movie lovers' out there who are the genuine article, prepare to laugh HARD! In `Cecil B. Demented,' famed off-Hollywood filmmaker John Waters has turned his attention to a subject that is obviously near and dear to his heart, and, in fact, near and dear to the hearts of all true lovers of movies everywhere. In his latest wild comedy, he has tackled the seemingly irreconcilable conflict that exists between the worlds of big budget mainstream Hollywood moviemaking and low budget, renegade independent cinema - a conflict that the latter always seems unfairly and unfailingly to lose. Waters certainly knows whereof he speaks - he, himself of course, being one of the great pioneers and icons of the underground film movement. He launched his directorial career and made a name for himself in independent film circles way back in the 1970's with such crude landmark underground classics as `Pink Flamingoes' and `Female Trouble.' Since that time, he has himself received some heat from diehard indie film purists who have considered him something of a sellout for producing offbeat but decidedly more `commercial' works like `Hair Spray,' `Cry Baby' and `Serial Mom, ` often with big name actors and actresses in starring roles. Yet, even with this more polished sheen, Waters' films have always retained that quality of outrageousness and that willingness to push the envelope that distinguish his vision from that of more mainstream filmmakers.
`Cecil B. Demented' is a particularly funny film for those who share Waters' outrage at the mass audience's seeming preference for the bland unoriginality of much of the product churned out by the cinema factory known as Hollywood and its seeming dismissal of the cutting edge experimentation and originality that define so much of independent filmmaking. And he lambastes a money-hungry industry that is all too eager and willing to supply the public with the big budget, special effects-ridden pablum it seems to crave. Or is it in classic chicken-or-egg fashion really the STUDIOS that condition the audience into thinking that those are the films that they want to spend their hard earned money to see? At any rate, Waters' clever parody follows a Patty Hearst-type storyline (as usual, Patty Hearst herself appears in the film) in which a group of bizarre, renegade independent filmmakers kidnap a Hollywood starlet (Melanie Griffith at her most likable) then force her to star in their reality-based new film which involves them filming themselves as they storm, guns blazing, into theatres that are showing putrid mainstream films, all in a righteous effort to bring commercial cinema to its knees.
`Cecil B. Demented' provides a rapid-fire onslaught of clever inside jokes lampooning both mainstream and independent filmmaking. Although his heart obviously lies with the latter, Waters also can remain objective enough to skewer some of the self-righteous pretentiousness that occasionally creeps into that type of filmmaking as well (he even shows that, as a director, he is damn good at staging one of those slick car chases he professes to abhor). Yet, as this clever parody plays itself out, most of us watching the film can't help but nod our heads in amused agreement with much of what he is showing us. In addition to the jokes themselves, Waters provides amusement with his sharply delineated comic characters each of whom satirizes a different aspect of the renegade subculture. We have, for instance, the maniacal, fanatical, single-minded director (delightfully played by Stephen Dorff) who sees himself as nothing less than the messiah sent to destroy commercial filmmaking and erect a cinema based on iconoclasm and originality in its place. We have all his devoted followers who run the gamut from Satanists to porn stars to punk rockers to straight hairdressers to gay truck drivers etc. Without question, much of the zestful energy that propels this madcap film forward comes from the dead-on performances of the actors and actresses in these roles.
Energy and originality are in fact the hallmarks of this film from start to finish. `Cecil B. Demented' may not be Waters at his most outrageous, but it provides loads of pleasure for film lovers who have been thinking many of the same thoughts that only Waters, in his uniquely humorous way, could effectively get across. Real movie lovers of the world unite! Cecil B. Demented is here to save the day!
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