Both “Season Of The Witch” and
“Little Fockers” are January movies for a reason.
They try hard, maybe too hard, and fall short.
But the studios have to put them out there, anyway, because they’ve
spent so much on making the products that they have to try to recoup the
costs. Can’t blame them for
that. But there’s a lot not
to like about either of these films.
“Season of the Witch” is about two
14th-century Knights of the Crusades, played by Nicolas Cage and
Ron Perlman (yes, I know, dubious casting), who happily slaughter the
infidels, in battle after bloody battle, with nary a scratch on them.
Their fearless leader, of course, is continually spouting grating
pietisms about how this is the Lord’s will, and they are fighting the
Lord’s own battles, and they are on a holy mission from God, etc., but
when they find themselves slaughtering defenseless women and children, our
two Knight Skeptics just quit. Desert.
At the threat of the loss of their immortal souls, of course.
But then they forget that their personal swords bear the special mark
of those who have “made the vow,” and when discovered, the Church
happily arrests and offers them one more chance, if they will escort a
manacled and caged witch (Clair Foy) to her trial.
The Church seems most interested in catching and burning witches, as
well, thinking they are the cause of The Black Plague. (Yes, the Church
could not look any stupider, and that’s yet another reason this movie is
painful to watch, especially for the sincere believer.)
The rest of the movie we’re on this dreary trek through the boggy
forest to some distant destination, and things keep going wrong:
the wooden bridge across the chasm is tattered, the wild wolves are
attacking, and there are strange apparitions in the fog.
And then we take a real left turn:
it turns out the witch is actually the devil?
And now we embark on an exorcism before the powers of the darkness
begin to envelop us all? Whew. The
only really positive thing to say is that they take incredibly seriously the
supernatural power of prayer (albeit in a dead language).
After all that casting of haughty priests in the worst light
possible, they appear to be given authority over the invisible realms in a
way that seems….almost like….an affirmation of faith. Very
“Little Fokkers” contains even
more awkward moments, some of which are generated by uncomfortable situation
humor, but it gets worse: this
all-star cast is just going through the motions.
This movie comes off like a series of bad skits, essentially
unrehearsed, as if the gravitas of the veteran participants could somehow
carry the puerile jokes. It’s
just plain not funny. Beleaguered
son-in-law Greg (Ben Stiller) is continually hounded by an arrogant,
full-of-himself father-in-law (Robert DeNiro), while his
caught-in-the-middle wife (Teri Polo) is not-so-secretly idolized by his
only friend (Owen Wilson), an almost-foppish rich boy who seems to have
little purpose, but shows up, anyway. Greg’s
Mom (Barbra Streisand) is a television sex therapist (awkward) and his Dad
(Dustin Hoffman) a retired geezer flying to Spain to learn to tango (silly),
and then this woman at work (Jessica Alba) keeps throwing herself at him,
which at times sounds tempting, especially when his daughter won’t speak
to him (because he says mean things about her grandfather). Yes, it’s a
big mess, but they at least have one redeeming moment at the end, where Greg
and his wife actually affirm their genuine love for each other, despite all
the outside pressures, as if all the trials have made them stronger.
And we’d like to believe that.
And we’d also like to hope they don’t try for yet another sequel.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace