Monday, July 07, 2003

The Laws of Deception

After weeks of only slightly bad offerings from the WB Weekend Cinema, our local affiliate came up with two doozies in one weekend. First, For Love Alone, which is sort of a biography of Ivana Trump and mainly an excuse for Rev. Camden (Stephen Collins) to get naked with the Ivana-be Astar. However, repeated Reverend Camden quivering-lip sex scenes at 11 on a Sunday morning just wasn’t going to happen. So, instead, I will review the fine film The Laws of Deception, which aired Saturday afternoon.

The Laws of Deception is the greatest trash film ever: It supposedly takes place over about 25 years, but no one ages and fashion doesn’t change in the least. The cast includes 80’s washout C. Thomas Howell, 90210’s Brian Austin Green (who unfortunately did NOT play keyboards or dance in this film), and Amber Smith, whose IMDB listing gives her bra size as 36D and whose other credits include "Hot Redhead" in Tomcats. The “law school” scenes were blatantly filmed at a junior high school (the "law school library" is smaller than my apartment). Also, C. Thomas Howell always addresses the camera rather than the person he’s supposedly talking to. I kept expecting someone to break character and yell, “Hey! I’m over here!” Best of all, C. Thomas Howell (Evan) and Brian Austin Green (Cal) have a tight, fiercely homoerotic friendship. I counted 3 top of head kisses, twelve full hugs and 13 arms draped over shoulders. It's almost as sexy as Smallville.

Random question: what do C. Thomas Howell’s friends call him? C? Thomas? Or Howell? I also wonder what L. Ron Hubbard was called by his friends.

The film begins at Christmas, with Evan at age 5 (which is supposedly 25 years in the past, but the clothing and technology in the house are entirely modern – someone even got a DVD for Christmas). Evan’s entire family is murdered in the living room as pseudo-opera plays. You can always count on a mob film for pseudo-opera.

Cut to twenty years later, as Evan and best pal Cal are studying in the shockingly miniscule law library. They have a boring conversation about how justice is Evan’s only love, and then a hot chick named Elise starts looking at Evan. You know, if I saw Brian Austin Green and C. Thomas Howell at the same table, I’d stare too, but only because I’d be wondering if Corey Haim was going to join them. Elise asks Evan out on a date, and shows up at the restaurant in a see-through mesh outfit. She’s HOTT.

So, Elise and Evan prance in their 1998 fashions, although it’s supposed to be 1988. A love montage begins: sitting on a blanket together, having sex while making French toast, and more sex. This movie has enough C. Thomas Howell sex to last a lifetime. Elise and Evan snuggle in bed together and drink eggnog from champagne glasses. Mmm, mucus. Evan’s dial-a-quirk is that he drinks eggnog and listens to Christmas music year-round. I can’t get behind that at all: Christmas music annoys the crap out of me even in December. Do I really need to hear 19 versions of “Come All Ye Faithful”, two of which are performed by kittens?

Evan tells Elise that he is obsessed with Christmas because his parents were murdered, and that he was raised by his Mafia uncle. Elise responds by saying, “So, what’s Cal going to do after graduation?” Which, when you think about it, isn't a very nice thing to say when your boyfriend starts talking about his murdered parents. Also, although I can’t claim a lot of dating prowess, “Mafia uncle”, “murdered parents” and “obsessed with Christmas” would all set off alarm bells in my head. We’re also treated to an extraneous scene of a Western-theme bar owner’s hand being “tenderized” by thugs, and a recipe for chicken-fried steak. This whole movie is like a CD player set on “shuffle” – and I also get the feeling that the script was handed to the actors 3 minutes before filming so none of them could say, “What the hell is this?” They never look at each other, which implies to me there's a Teleprompter or cue cards off to one side.

Of course, Everything Falls Apart: Elise is caught going through Evan’s things, Elise turns out to be a stripper, and Evan gets beat up by her mob boss/strip bar owner boss, Carlucci. Evan recognizes Carlucci as the man that murdered his parents (although, I must mention, Carlucci hasn’t aged a bit in the last 20 years). However, he doesn’t do a damn thing about it. Elise and Evan break up.

Cut to 10 years later (although, again, fashion and technology haven’t changed a bit). Evan is now a hotshot attorney, and in the B-movie world, that means he slicks his hair back and smarms a good bit. Elise comes to Evan’s office and says that she has been accused of murdering her husband, Carlucci. The movie devolves (as if that had been possible) into a pseudo-noir whodunit with many twists and turns, all of which involve Elise’s 36D boobs. Here we go: Evan destroys three rental cars in a bizarre attempt at comic relief, Cal returns to say that Elise is trouble, Elise and Evan make the beast with two backs, Elise says that Cal is stalking her, Evan encounters a private detective who says that Elise is into S&M, and a sheriff with the fakest Texan accent ever insults Evan. All of that took an hour, thanks to loads of generous shots of Evan and Elise looking at each other, Evan driving very slowly down empty streets, aerial shots of Miami freeways (Lord knows, freeways are novel and exciting!).

The film’s climax (if we can call it that) involves a motel room. Evan meets Cal, who waves a gun at him and says that Elise ruined his life. Then why doesn’t he wave a gun at Elise, instead? Oh, whatever. Cal says that Elise was paid by Carlucci to date Evan. That must be the real reason the Mafia is in decline: mobsters are stupid. Carlucci spent 30 years of his life supervising Evan. Why not just put a bullet in Evan’s head and be done with it? I think someone needs lessons in Total Quality Management. Cal shoots himself in the head and blood spatters everywhere. Cal-Gone, take me away!

Evan turns on Elise because she's done him wrong, and Elise is convicted of murder as Evan sits in the courtroom and smarms. However, because every bad film has its twist (and every rose has its thorn, and every cowboy sings a sad, sad song), the final scene clues us in that Evan actually murdered Carlucci and framed Elise for it.

Scorecard: Intentional humor: 2 Unintentional humor: 9
Subtle, Confusing or Sledgehammer of a Plot? Confusing. So, the bar owner's hand got tenderized because he borrowed Evan's hair gel? Do the whuh how?
Damage to My Liver: Minor. Every time I'd take a drink, something stupid would happen and everything would shoot out of my nose.

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