Review written on: November 11th, 2006

Babel Review

I’m not sure how Christine and I ended up seeing this movie. Perhaps it’s because we like to see at least one movie every weekend. Or perhaps it’s that someone else was planning on seeing it, but didn’t. I don’t know. Either way, I’m angry we went.

Babel, is a 2 hour and 22 minute endeavor into absolutely nothing. If you go see this movie, by the 30 minute mark, you’ll say to whoever you’re with “You wanna leave now?” I’ve never felt more bored in a movie, as far back as I can remember. Have I hated movies more than this? Sure, I’ve seen a lot worse. Will I ever suggest to anyone else that they see Babel? No, not a chance in hell.

I know what you’re thinking, you’re a dick Mike, it couldn’t have been that bad. Not true, this isn’t just me being my typical hard to please self. The handful of people in the theater (most of which were in their mid-fifties or older) all had the same reaction at the end of the flick. Not only a relieving sigh that the suck-fest was over, but a groan of “what the hell did I just waste two and a half hours of my Saturday morning for?” Even sitting here now, half an hour after leaving the theater, I’m still enraged with anger.

Okay, so let me explain, I’ll try to break it down, without spoiling the surprise ending. Oh wait, there is no surprise ending. There’s nothing really to even gain from seeing the movie. Babel tells four seperate stories. These four stories eventually try to be tied together, but the storyline is extremely weak. If you want to see a movie about seperate stories that tie together well, see Crash. Okay, so three stories:
1) Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are on some vacation in Morocco trying to save their marriage, apparently. Though it’s not said, it’s inferred that they’re there trying to rectify things after they lost their baby son. I’m guessing SIDS, they don’t say for sure.
2) Amelia, Brad and Cate’s nanny takes their children to Mexico, to celebrate her son’s wedding, and has trouble getting back into the country with them.
3) Chieko, a Japanese deaf-mute volleyball playing horny teenager takes us on an adventure of useless proportions. We follow her around while she tries to get her friend’s cousin to sleep with her, her dentist to sleep with her, and eventually a detective to sleep with her.
4) Yussef and Ahmed, brothers from Morocco who are sent by their father, with their new gun, to kill jackals.

These four stories aren’t nearly as connected as one would hope from a big screen story. While stories 1 and 2 are tied together in the obvious way, Amelia works for Brad and Cate, story 3 could have been completely omitted and saved the movie 40 minutes of uselessness. Story 4 only ties in, in that the kids end up shooting Cate, and Brad goes into “holy crap, gotta save my wife” mode.

There’s been talk of Oscars for Brad and Cate for their roles, for best supporting actor/actress. I don’t think that’s fair at all. Cate Blanchett has just shy of 20 actual lines, and Brad Pitt, though full of dialog, is only onscreen for approximately 28 minutes (I didn’t actually time it, I’m guesstimating). A “supporting actor” should have more screen time than 1/5th of the movie. At least in my opinion.

Overall, this movie is profoundly boring, a complete waste of time, and trying way too hard to be a “deep” and “meaningful” movie. It is neither of those two things. The stories are told poorly, and out of order (not in a good way, like Memento, either), the cinematography was sub-par, the directing was non-existent, and the script was garbage. Given, it must be difficult to write a script in four languages (Japanese, Moroccan, English, and Spanish), but that doesn’t make the script suck any less. The cinematography looks like it was shot by a poorly educated cameraman, who only got the job, because the real cameraman got run over by a herd of goats.

Stay away from this movie. By all means. Even if they’re showing it for free, at the local theater, do not go see the movie. You will thank me for not putting yourself through this. If you go, you’ll regret it.

This movie would have gotten zero stars, but I gave it a half star, because Brad Pitt is amazing, even given his limited screen time.


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