What does Mr. Grinch Want for Christmas? To Return some videotapes?
American Psycho (2000): A wealthy New York investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies.
Happy holidays everyone! Hope you're getting to spend some quality time with your friends and family during this wonderful season. As is tradition at Enter the Movies, I'm here to provide you with a review of a classic film that has hardly anything to do with Christmas. Last year I provided my jolly take on L.A. Confidential, and this year it's time to talk about one of the craziest films ever made: American Psycho. Now, I'll admit..... there's only one passing scene in this film that has to do with Christmas. But I have always wanted to talk about this controversial film, so I'll use my Holiday Special to do it. If you don't like it.....well, don't make me go get my raincoat! (Deep breath) Anyway, let's talk about American Psycho, shall we?
The name of this movie is fitting, because it is absolutely ridiculous. But, for the first half of the movie, it is ridiculous in an unforgettable sort of way. (I'll get to the second half in a bit) The film stars Christian Bale as the antihero Patrick Bateman in what is easily the best performance of his distinguished career. Not only that, but this performance would likely find a spot in my top 5 Best Performances of all time! His portrayal of Bateman is darkly hilarious. He's haunting. He's menacing. He's superficial. Yet he makes you laugh so much you actually feel uncomfortable. Bateman commits horrific atrocities in front of you, and at the end of the film you feel awful for not hating him with every fiber of your being. This is a phenomenon that I have experienced in only a handful of movies over the years. (Another one that comes to mind? Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street) But that is exactly what an antihero should be. Bateman is also held up by some incredible writing. His personal story arc is terrific! There's also this fantastic theme of materialism that is still shockingly relevant over 15 years later. The amount of relevance this still has as a social satire 15 years later is pretty uncanny. One of the more famous scenes of materialism in the movie (there are many) has been turned into a meme now, but even when I see it in meme form it still works! How often does that happen? It's pretty freaking incredible.
However, as the second half rolls on and we get into the third act, the theme of the film shifts to being more about Bateman's struggle to stay integrated with society and, well, sane and away the social satire. As these sequences progress, and as Bateman's antics become more over-the-top, the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred, which lead to some very confusing moments. The satire turns into a psychological drama, and this transition is rather ugly, to say the least. It's so rough that you'll probably just give up on trying to understand what's going on. This is such a shame, because the first half of this movie is the definition of perfection. Bateman's first kill while describing the career of Huey Lewis and the News is, to this day, one of the best scenes I've ever seen in a film. (Warning: There's some GRAPHIC content in that previous link) But the second half is an absolute dumpster fire. Look. I get what they were going for here, and it's certainly provocative from start to finish. But when the film starts out as strong as it does and turns into a borderline indecipherable mess, I can't help but be disappointed. It's controversial as well, with the film famously having to cut 18 seconds of film to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating. (The overall making of this movie is nuts....at one point none other than Leonardo DiCaprio was going to take on the role of Patrick Bateman) That said, this is still a good film as it is carried by the career-defining performance of Christian Bale, and its dark humor is on point as well as its statement on materialism. If you want to see a mind-provoking social satire this holiday season, and really get into the materialism that comes with this festive time, you've come to the right place! Everyone else though? Just go and watch White Christmas again. That's prooooobably a safer choice.
Happy holidays everyone! Now excuse me while I go and listen to some Genesis. (Personally, I think "Invisible Touch" is the group's undisputed masterpiece.)
The Critique: A provocative and dark social satire, American Psycho is buoyed by one of the greatest performances in the history of film, despite a rather incomprehensible final act.
The Recommendation: If you like dark comedies and antiheroes and have never seen American Psycho, move this to the top of your list right away. Everyone else? Well......maybe look for something else to watch.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.
Happy holidays everyone!
A wealthy New York investment banking executive, Patrick Bateman, hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies.
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