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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.71%
Average: 1.87%
Pretty Bad: 9.35%
Total Crap: 12.15%

7 reviews, 65 user ratings

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Gods and Monsters
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by Scott Weinberg

"A slow, deliberate drama. That's a compliment, though."
4 stars

While you're waiting for Julia Roberts' latest estrogen-a-thon or Armageddon 2, try this one. Ian McKellen gives what may be one of the finest performances of the decade in a great role as James Whale, film director of the 1930s. This movie is also worth seeing because you get to see something you may never see again: Brendan Fraser acting, and doing a damn good job!

It's a personally reassuring feeling when you choose and enjoy a movie like this. It's like telling yourself "See? You're smart. You don't like JUST Bruce Willis and Police Academy! You can enjoy slow-moving personal dramas just like the professional movie watchers." Try it and see.

Anyway, former movie director James Whale (Frankenstein, Showboat) is spending his final years nostalgic and sickly. He is alone, save for a loyal maid (played wonderfully by Lynn Redgrave) and a former lover who stops by for a token appearance. Mr. Whale is also outwardly and unashamedly gay. He treats this as a simple fact of life and not something to hide or be ashamed of. Unfortunately for him, he is now old and lonely. He shamelessly leers and propositions a young interviewer who comes to visit in an early scene. He tries to begin a friendship with his gardener, Clay. This relationship is doomed from the beginning, as we know the depth of Whale's sadness and longing.

The three principles here are really strong. Ian McKellen adds another powerhouse performance to his recent string of work. (Apt Pupil, Rasputin, Richard III) He so convincingly brings James Whale to life, he hypnotizes you. Even through the few slow spots, it's just a joy to watch him working. Brendan Fraser proves a lot of people wrong in this movie, myself included. His portrayal of Clay is humane, somewhat fearful, confused and sweet. He gets a chance to play a real human here (as opposed to a caveman or a jungle man) and he hits it perfectly. Lynn Redgrave also stands out as the maid, Hanna. Her reasons for loyalty to Whale are unclear, but it's obvious she's a religious and noble woman. She also cracks wise a few times, which helps the proceedings considerably. Lolita Davidovich also shows up for a few scenes as Clay's ex-girlfriend, but you'll miss her if you blink.

On the surface, it's a simple movie about nostalgia, loneliness and regret. Underneath, it's a celebration of individuality and being true to one's self. It may not be all for all tastes, but if you check it out, you'll probably enjoy it.

Overall, an arthouse movie you needn't fear. It's a brave movie, as James Whale was a brave man. If you're wondering why you should rent a movie about a gay old man and a gardener, well so was I.

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originally posted: 12/10/99 18:33:47
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User Comments

5/23/14 kingface The movie touched me and it was completely unexpected. My adoration for Ian McKellan soared 5 stars
5/22/09 Meggie This movie was absolutely powerful. Amazing performances from everyone. 5 stars
11/06/06 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 4 stars
3/27/05 Victor Toledo Great Film. I've seen it quite a few times. 5 stars
12/03/04 froggy a real insight- brilliant by mckellen and made me respect fraser 5 stars
10/25/04 Tom Ciorciari Sadly beautiful. McKellen and Fraser soar. 5 stars
7/01/04 DM Falls apart towards the end, but the performances are spectacular 4 stars
2/18/04 tatum Unexpected humor lifts maudlin story 5 stars
12/03/03 Michael Good Movie, but a bit lacking 4 stars
4/08/03 Mystique McKellen is a GOD ! 5 stars
9/10/02 Jake Lost interest 3/4 through as it was overrated and dull. Who cares? 2 stars
1/21/02 Andrew Carden It Treats Homosexuality Badly, but It's Still An Excellent Movie. 5 stars
9/02/01 Butterbean Brendan's body is fucking awesome in this one. This movie was okay 4 stars
3/29/01 Keely Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser give 2 of the most compelling performances I have seen 5 stars
2/21/01 Steve in Prague teen critic really should NOT be allowed to review such complicated stuff 5 stars
2/20/01 Greg This was a powerful and moving film 5 stars
1/06/01 Emily this movie is artisically shot, and has substance to back it up. 5 stars
10/03/00 Jed Overrated & is certainly NOT one of the best films ever though it is not a bad one. 3 stars
9/19/00 homer simpson interesting 4 stars
9/06/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Bought the DVD. Good extras, but slow moving movie can be a bit dull. 4 stars
5/13/00 Elvisfan What the fuck is wrong with you people? hey, teen critic, BUY A CLUE!! 5 stars
1/02/00 Anthony Burroughs Good indi film, a rare piece that may change lives, but was almost lacking in parts. 4 stars
11/30/99 hum see it for the acting 4 stars
9/17/99 strike McKellen was robbed at the oscars. Benigni was good,but nowhere as masterful as this master 4 stars
7/28/99 sydney brilliant! McKellen and Redgrave were fantastic! 5 stars
7/03/99 Ed Wood expected to hate it, but it was fantastic. McKellan & Redgrave show how it's done. superb! 5 stars
6/21/99 James E. Laczkowski Ian McKellan is amazing! A bit slow, but compelling nonetheless. 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Ian Mckellan is obviously typecast for the role of James Whale. Total fucking yawnathon. 2 stars
6/11/99 The Bomb 69 great acting, got slow in some parts, but overall well made 4 stars
3/30/99 Powrhug Interesting movie-best Fraser acting to date-liked the parallels within the movie 4 stars
3/02/99 MissDelicateFlower c'mon, it ain't all THAT. 4 stars
2/19/99 The Graduate Brilliant performance by McKellan--I hope the Academy agrees! 5 stars
2/16/99 Suzz Superb acting 5 stars
1/23/99 Heather Great movie, Ian McKellen & Lynn Redgrave are fabulous! 5 stars
1/16/99 madlowry best of 199hate. 5 stars
1/14/99 Rodger Pille Fantastic characters played by fantastic actors. 5 stars
1/12/99 Miss Scarlett A really great movie, probably not for you closed-minded folks 5 stars
1/04/99 Landru The sort of story you would expect to see on Masterpiece Theater. BORING!!!! 1 stars
1/03/99 Leon Russell Boy, I can see that this film is popular! 1 stars
1/03/99 Critic Deluxe This film is somniferous in nature. Shallow dialog and boring characters. 1 stars
1/03/99 One Hung Low A fad movie for campus types and wimpy know-it-alls. 1 stars
1/02/99 Oscar Goldman Dialog is overrated. Hollywood mogul past his peak and hitting on young guys. 1 stars
1/01/99 Jack Ripper Blows! 1 stars
1/01/99 Gregg Gerard This is one of the best films that I have ever seen. Many layers of meaning. A must see. 5 stars
12/31/98 Jack Mehoff This film is aimed at geeks who listen to NPR and select their acquaintances by quotas. 1 stars
12/30/98 Peter Fitswell Truman Capote's soulmate. 1 stars
12/30/98 Zena Yawn. Much verbal ado about practically nothing. 2 stars
12/29/98 Hugh Jass My wife had to wake me when it was over. McKellen is quite believable as a fag. 1 stars
12/28/98 Mercury Hayes A film that only a c*cksucking pseudo-intellectual would love. 1 stars
12/27/98 Thing This film is technically good. The acting by Frazier was weak. A little too artsy fartsy. 2 stars
12/27/98 Clint Beastwood It is a great movie to take date to if you want to kill a romantic evening. 1 stars
12/26/98 Bridgette sir ian is great 4 stars
12/25/98 Jack Wilson A "must see" for PC jerkoffs. Blows by standards of people living on planet Earth. 1 stars
12/22/98 Movie Geezer very diappointed in film---ian is better in apt pupil and George of the Jungle can't act. 3 stars
12/19/98 Louis Munro The sort of film that people who carry PBS fund-raising book bags would love. 1 stars
12/11/98 Mike McFarland wanted to see more about his rise and fall as a director...felt like I was watching a play 4 stars
11/23/98 elizabeth i agree with what mitchell and christine said, this is a filmmaking at its best 5 stars
11/23/98 Mitchell+Christine A must see....only if you're intelligent though... 5 stars
11/19/98 katie it was awesome 5 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Really good movie. Nothing to bitch about. 5 stars
11/12/98 Chris excellent 5 stars
11/03/98 darlene it was excellent.....brendan fraser rocks 5 stars
10/21/98 grunter Faithful adaption of the Christopher Bram novel; some awkward superfluous imagery. 4 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool Wouldn't recommend this film to anyone who is not an avid movie buff. 4 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Astounding. An awesome film based on the life of horror film director, James Whale. Sweet. 5 stars
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  04-Nov-1998 (R)


  24-Jun-1999 (M)

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