Mexican, The

It’s got Brad. And Julia.
It’s also got a Very Big Star in a
surprise cameo in the last reel playing (uncredited) the mysterious tycoon whom
everybody has been talking about but no one has seen. And, as if all that were
not enough for you, it’s got Tony
Soprano (James Gandolfini) in the very week that the third season of
Sopranos” premieres, playing, as
usual, a gangster and killer but this time one who
is—wait for it;
you’ll love
this—gay! What more could you
want from a movie than The Mexican, written by J.H. Wyman and directed by
Gore Verbinski, has to offer? Some people there may be who harbor a secret
nostalgia for plausible stories, tight plotting and complex characterization,
but for most people these days, surely, something like an edition of
Squares” with a fair number of
well-scripted wisecracks is quite enough to make a movie worth seeing.

Well, we’ll see. But I confess to a
certain amount of curiosity as to whether even Brad and Julia (like Arnold and
Sly and a very few others, stars big enough to be known only by their first
names) and the rest of it will be enough to compensate a very large
audience for the absurdity of the story, the incomprehensibility of the plot or
the flatness of the characterization. This
film’s running time is advertised as
being just on two hours, but it seems more like four. Every time you think you
might finally be heading down the home stretch to the finish line, the movie
takes a detour to give you yet another boring and stupid version of the boring
and stupid tale of the Mexican gunsmith and the antique, ornate pistol he made
which is the ostensible object of
everyone’s interest.

But this time what Hitchcock called the McGuffin positively glories in its
irrelevance to what the movie is
about—which is providing an
opportunity for Brad and Julia to be lovable and attractive as only Brad and
Julia can be. In post-modern style, Messrs Verbinski and Wyman want us to know
that they know that the story of the gun is the slightest of pretexts for
what is going on, so instead of telling us the ridiculous story of the gunsmith
in a single melodramatic vignette they do it again and again. The story is so
irrelevant and slight and pretexty that
it’s a joke. Geddit? And then,
just to make the joke even more hilarious the Very Big Star who appears in the
final reel offers up the final version of the same story together with a
cock-and-bull sequel about how hearing it in prison
“changed my
life” and set him on the quest for the
gun in the first place.

These guys sure have to work hard to persuade us that
they’re in the know and not really the
incompetents they seem. The story, you will be relieved to hear, was screwed up
on purpose. But it takes an odd sort of sensibility to find this joke
very funny. There are a few funny bits as Brad and Julia attempt to
impersonate the Battling Bickersons, spouting psychobabble about
which they are joined, again with the intention of increasing the general
hilarity, by the gay version of Tony Soprano. Of course
he’s had all those hours on the couch
with Dr. Melfi to provide him with the vocabulary to talk about
with ditzy but lovable Julia. He too has
“a hard time keeping relationships
together,” but Julia, ostensibly his
hostage, helps him to start a new and hopeful one with an itinerant postal

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well
for Tony and the postal worker, though this is not their fault. In fact, you
could say that Tony, in the Hollywood tradition of gay saintliness, offers up
his own life for the heterosexual happiness of Brad and Julia. Not that the
happiness looks very happy, but the movie even gives us a moral to cling to
amidst all the confusion of unorganized activity that passes for a plot. Try the
question out for yourself: “If two
people love each other, but they just can’t get it together, when do you get to
that point of enough is enough?” The
right answer is:
It’s also a good time to think about
going to this movie.

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