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Overall Rating
2.81

Awesome: 16.52%
Worth A Look: 13.91%
Average24.35%
Pretty Bad24.35%
Total Crap: 20.87%

9 reviews, 61 user ratings



Babel
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by Dawn Taylor

"Artificially manufactured angst about people who are complete dumbasses."
1 stars

With an excellent cast, great pre-release buzz and a blatant play for the same hearts and minds that voted for 'Crash' as Best Picture, you can be sure that 'Babel' will get a lot of attention. The question, then, is how many of the people who see this film will be dazzled by its self-conscious, self-serving claptrap and overlook the fact that it's really not about anything except the trouble people get into when they act like dumbasses.

And there are dumbasses aplenty on display in Babel, believe me. First, there's the pair of young Moroccan morons who get the ball rolling by using the rifle their father has given them to shoot the jackals that attack their sheep, and instead use it to wing off a few shots at a passing tour bus. Their father's no rocket scientist, either, handing them a powerful hunting rifle without any instructions (like maybe, "Don't shoot at passing vehicles"), and he gets even stupider toward the end of the film.

Did I mention that one of the boys likes to peek at his sister while she changes her clothes and then run behind a rock to masturbate? Yeah, he does. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with the plot, which makes it even creepier.

So one of the kids actually hits the bus, accidentally shooting an American tourist (Cate Blanchett) who's traveling through Morocco with her husband (Brad Pitt). Apparently they had a baby who died and they're pissed off at each other about it. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the plot, either.

Back in the U.S., the couple's dumbass housekeeper (Adriana Barraza) needs to go to her son's wedding, despite her employers still being in Morocco. So she decides that it's a good idea to take the couple's two small children with her across the border into Mexico, driven by her skeezy nephew (Gael García Bernal). This, unsurprisingly, goes badly when they try to come back home.

Elsewhere in the world, a deaf-mute Japanese teenager (Rinko Kikushi) works out her issues regarding her mother's suicide by taking off her panties and flashing a boy in a restaurant and then hitting on her dentist. Thankfully, the dentist doesn't take her up on the offer and sends her away, making him one of perhaps three characters in the film who doesn't choose the absolute stupidest course of action when faced with a decision.

By the time director Alejandro González Iñárritu -- director of the overpraised Amores Perros and the gawdawful 21 Grams -- lets you in on the whisper-thin thread that connects the Japanese girl's story to the other two, the film's already gone on for about 40 minutes more than it should have so it's hard to care. Meanwhile, the Mexican housekeeper and the Moroccan kids' dad make survival choices so incredibly, jaw-droppingly stupid that it starts to feel like they deserve every bad thing that Iñárritu throws at them.

Which is the basic problem with the movie -- everything that happens in the film happens because the characters make idiotic choices. And they make those idiotic choices not because they're stupid, but because Iñárritu's script dictates that they do stupid things. The entire film is a huge, artificially manufactured farce of anguish that relies on dumbasses doing dumbass things. So who the hell cares what happens to them?

On top of everything else, the movie also drags horribly, with scenes about nothing in particular (cars driving down the road, drunk Japenese kids cavorting on a playground, people partying at the wedding) going on and on and on without adding anything significant to the story. While this should be a relief from the almost non-stop dumbassery of the rest of the film, it just makes the whole parade of idiocy last longer.

There will be critics who praise this film to the high heavens for its "humanity" and it's "gritty realism." There's also Oscar talk about Pitt's performance -- which is serviceable, but really just consists of his getting angry a lot and insisting that he needs to save his wife. Pitt's a fine actor, but he's done considerably better work than what's on display here. Frankly, no one in this film, besides the nutty pantsless Japanese girl, offers anything of any depth.

'Babel' wants to be 'Crash' or 'Syriana' so badly, you can almost see the ghost images of those two films burned into the celluloid. What sets 'Babel' apart from those movies is sheer substance. At the end of the day, 'Babel' isn't actually about anything. It's just 140 minutes of self-conscious, cinematic masturbation that's dressed up in Oscar-bait clothing.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15013&reviewer=413
originally posted: 11/08/06 18:20:09
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell bleak but potent 4 stars
11/19/11 Chris. Have had a rash of movies I don't want to finish recently, finished this one. 4 stars
7/26/11 daveyt didn't get a pay-off after sitting through it all, just too random and disconnected for me 3 stars
9/01/09 Adam Film was just bleak. Very crafted view fo tragic events and consequences. Poor story links. 3 stars
8/16/09 tony Rubbish. made for highbrow dinner party arty types with nothing better to talk about 1 stars
10/30/08 David Babel calls for listening, if you say you did, and you didn't get the idea, then you didn't 5 stars
9/04/08 Alexandru Totir Very interesting movie and I like how they combined the scenes to make something unique 5 stars
6/10/08 mr.mike Very good , sustained my interest throughout. 4 stars
6/01/08 Leon Unusual and absorbing; well- dramatised C'est la Vie! of life's vagaries 4 stars
5/27/08 Matt Crap. Couldn't even get the bus-shooting scene right. 1 stars
5/25/08 Joh Hansen continuity problem with the bus going L to R and KB shot in L clavicle! 3 stars
4/21/08 Dhanu great 5 stars
4/05/08 stephanie willis enjoyed - especially the Afghan boys - thought they did a fine job - always like Blancett 5 stars
3/10/08 Jayme Isaacs Good Movie 4 stars
3/05/08 ladavies some of it worked, some didn't (Brad Pitt's storyline) 3 stars
9/28/07 Noelle Stephens It was an ok movie. It would have been better without the Japanese story line. Too much! 3 stars
9/25/07 Lenore Disappointing, shallow, but thankfully, good environments. 2 stars
9/01/07 goatfarmer Frustrating movie, beautifully shot, about frustrated people behaving recklessly 3 stars
7/11/07 wil j. Study of fateful global human interconnections; even amongst strangers who will never meet 5 stars
7/11/07 VIVEK KRISHNAN GOOD 3 stars
5/20/07 luke this movie was so stupid i would have rather eaten a cake and thrown it up 1 stars
5/14/07 Jonathan Holmes The best film of 2006, and a pity to those who can't understand Inarrtiu's geinus 5 stars
5/01/07 action movie fan good quartet in one. shooting of wife in morocco the most gripping of the bunch 4 stars
4/23/07 JeromeBosch Incredible acting, gorgeously lensed, a brilliant movie. 5 stars
4/13/07 fools♫gold That old-school drama I won't watch again; "21 Grams" was better. 3 stars
4/06/07 Anthony incredible- moving, challenging, brilliant writing and acting- loved it 5 stars
3/12/07 Jose M. Terrific and Heartfelt film . Dawn Learn how to spell against . 5 stars
3/10/07 Dickman Fragmentation of 4 pretentioius half-stories makes a kid's jigsaw puzzle, not a drama. 3 stars
3/08/07 Butt Third time is not the charm for Inarritu - boring 3 stars
3/03/07 Joe Smaltz Strange movie, strange plot, strange casting no story line 1 stars
2/27/07 Veronica Price There is nothing to explain in this moronic film. Absolutely stupid. 1 stars
2/26/07 Thomas Brown Best movie of 2006! No use trying to explain that to people who just don't get it. 5 stars
2/25/07 Stephen Drinkard Excellent film. I feel sorry for the people who couldn't understand this film. 5 stars
2/25/07 R.W.Welch Asian thread a little weak; otherwise pretty solid. 4 stars
2/15/07 ES A more accurate title would have been- 'Really Stupid Decisions' 2 stars
2/13/07 robert zimmerman probably the best film i've ever seen 5 stars
1/28/07 Cassandra Gleason Vacuous and slow-paced. Trite. Waste of 2.5 hours. 1 stars
1/22/07 Tony Vawser powerful, intense, involving, rewarding 5 stars
1/22/07 Monday Morning Only depression-junkies would like this drawn-out piece of shite. 1 stars
1/21/07 TheReelMcCoy About 30 minutes worth of "high concept" packed into two hours. 1 stars
1/18/07 Mark Iñarritu is a fraud and Gael Garcia must go back to the mexican soap operas. 1 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands Especially right now in time in terms of both politics & everyday people, Babel's important 5 stars
12/16/06 Elizabeth Amazing! 5 stars
12/16/06 Bob Cetlin Great review of an awful movie. Impossible to enjoy even the beautiful scenery. 1 stars
11/25/06 joe total crup 1 stars
11/25/06 Greg The movie is reflective of the dichotomy and ethnocentric predicaments in the world. 4 stars
11/21/06 marie i really like it, especially the japanesse girl story! 5 stars
11/19/06 jcjs i liked it bunches and my friend didn't...lots didn't like this show...no problem i liked 4 stars
11/18/06 Ramblingdriver A tax write-off for movie studio / paycheck for actors 1 stars
11/17/06 george good idea, but badly executed. Too long + depressing.Shouldn't have cast any famous actors. 1 stars
11/17/06 FilmGoer pretty good....but what was in that final note 4 stars
11/15/06 Valerie The kid who shot the rifle was the best character/actor 2 stars
11/15/06 Jamethon I agree, Iñárritu needs to stop repeating the same formula over and over again. 1 stars
11/14/06 alex annoying and tedious as hell, twice as long as it needs to be 1 stars
11/14/06 John M Depressing, waste of time. I want my 2 hours back. 1 stars
11/14/06 Gayle Did like this movie. Would not recommend it. Brad Pitt was horrible. Hard to follow. 2 stars
11/13/06 mwpmd A total waste! Sorry excuse for political commentary and entertainment. 1 stars
11/13/06 J.Pet Brad Pitt, should consider early retirement!!! 1 stars
11/13/06 Mauricio Excellent trama, 5 stars
11/13/06 John I love this movie, very good. 5 stars
11/06/06 Timber The exquisitely tramatising need to communite: Keep this concept in your mind throughout. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Dec-2006



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