Schizopolis

A painfully self-conscious comedy that mistakes relentless self-referentiality for cleverness, this half-witted misfire is filled with accelerated motion, repeated and overlapping scenes, direct address to the camera and other cliches of defamiliarization. Suburban salaryman Fletcher Munson (writer/director Steven Soderbergh) toils for the quasi-religious...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A painfully self-conscious comedy that mistakes relentless self-referentiality for cleverness, this half-witted misfire is filled with accelerated motion, repeated and overlapping scenes, direct address to the camera and other cliches of

defamiliarization. Suburban salaryman Fletcher Munson (writer/director Steven Soderbergh) toils for the quasi-religious empire of T. Azimuth Schwitters (Mike Malone), a hypocritical, Ron Hubbard-like prophet of self-actualization. In a strip-mall parking lot, Munson crosses paths with his exact

double, dentist Jeffrey Korchak (Soderbergh again, of course), and discovers that Korchak is having an affair with his wife (Betsy Brantley), while lusting for another woman who looks exactly like her. Meanwhile, exterminator Elmo Oxygen (David Jensen) careens around town seducing bored

housewives, while nuthouse attendants try to capture a half-naked loony on a bicycle and a tweedy professorial sort pontificates to a film crew shooting a movie called... you guessed it: Schizopolis. Soderbergh seems to have been thinking some heavy thoughts about the function of language:

Elmo and his conquests communicate entirely in gibberish, small talk between Munson and his wife is rendered as "Generic greeting!" and the like, and whole scenes are played (and replayed) with characters chattering nonchalantly in different tongues. How very surreal: It's enough to make you take

refuge in the universal language of the tortured scream. Bad enough that Soderbergh executive-produced the pretentious SUTURE: This "experimental" exercise in guerrilla filmmaking is the sort of puerile claptrap most filmmakers get out of their systems as students. What on Earth was he

thinking?

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