Mystery Science Theater 3000 turned talking back at the movies into an art, but finding the right artifacts to mock is a difficult task. You need something like Manos: The Hands of Fate, a technically inept film made with absolute earnestness. Though it's the absolute antithesis of a technically inept movie, Joel Schumacher's thriller Trespass would seem to be the perfect candidate for Joel and the Bots’ patented brand of cinematic evisceration -- it's so bad you and your drunken friends could probably do just as good a job pointing out the absurdities that unfold as those comedy professionals.
The movie stars Nicolas Cage, an Oscar winner who seemingly hasn't turned down a script or paycheck for nearly a decade, as Kyle, a wealthy, fast-talking salesman who is trying to act as the middleman for a shipment of diamonds. His wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman, an Oscar winner who has spent the last decade appearing in big-budget bombs, while doing excellent work in smaller movies) is at the end of her rope when it comes to her husband's work trips. They have a spoiled teenage daughter who wants nothing to do with either of them. Into their pristine, ultra-modern, unhappy home come a band of baddies wearing ski masks, toting guns, and demanding the diamonds they know are inside Kyle's vault.
It turns out the team hired to install the family's state-of-the-art security system had a member in desperate need of some cash, who decided to use his insider knowledge to develop a home-invasion plan. Complicating matters further, one of the gang is madly in love with Sarah -- a fact that exacerbates the marital troubles between her and Kyle. Now Kyle doesn't know who to trust, but he's still talking a mile a minute in order to get out of this alive.
If Trespass had been directed with as much gonzo nuttiness as its screenplay contains, it would be a popcorn masterpiece -- a thoroughly ridiculous postmodern wink at high-concept thrillers. Or, if the dialogue were better, the movie would totally work as a taut nail-biter. But as it is, when Cage is forced to utter lines as ridiculous as "it's your dirty lust that invited this into our home!" with a straight face, the only proper response is involuntary laughter: The film's mix of serious direction and acting coupled with tone-deaf dialogue forces viewers to giggle. For a thriller, Trespass is a fantastic comedy.
The story throws a new twist at you seemingly every five minutes: Kyle claims he doesn't have any money; someone's mom needs a kidney; a drug deal goes bad; someone should know to always wear a seat belt; the daughter’s friend has a large stash of coke. These plot elements typically don't advance the story at all, but simply allow Schumacher to pad out this thin premise for another few minutes. The movie really needed to run with the over-the-top ridiculousness, recognizing how silly it all is instead of taking the plot seriously. When somebody finally delivers a standard kiss-off line while dispatching the final bad guy, we're supposed to cheer; instead, it's the icing on the comedic cake.
Trespass is a bad movie. Bad in ways that underscore how little we expect now from Cage, how much of a hack Joel Schumacher has always been, and how rarely a movie this technically competant can make us laugh so hard.
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- Released: 2011
- Rating: R
- Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 turned talking back at the movies into an art, but finding the right artifacts to mock is a difficult task. You need something like Manos: The Hands of Fate, a technically inept film made with absolute earnestness. Though it's… (more)