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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look60.87%
Average: 4.35%
Pretty Bad: 26.09%
Total Crap: 4.35%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Those Damn Chinese Curses!"
4 stars

“You’re an evil person with an evil soul and it will come right back at you.” That’s what a disgruntled woman says to the title character after he’s insulted her at one job interview and inadvertently gotten her fired at another. So goes the world of male-dominated office politics and the man at the center of one of its stories fashioned by Daniel Handler (of Lemony Snicket fame) and stylishly conceived by director Curtiss Clayton.

Rick is played by Bill Pullman and we don’t know much about what he does except he does it in a large downtown building that proudly goes by the name of Image. He may seem like the most important man in the hallway as everyone stops to say Hi, but he’s not. His boss is a little cuss named Duke (Aaron Stanford) whose cocky bravado overshadows his age which about half of Rick’s. It doesn’t stop ol’ Rick from humoring him, laughing at his jokes and going out for drinks. But for a guy who seems to know all the angles and nearly all the surprises around each corner, this life is slowly eating away at his conscience.

His wife is deceased and his daughter, Eve (Agnes Bruckner) seems to share her father’s detachment to the world. Little does she know, her humorous escapades on an internet sex-chat with a user known as “BIGBOSS” hits a little too close to that world. Rick schedules time with his daughter like just another appointment, but he always insists she share one thing about her day with him. When she jokes that she’s having sex with her girlfriend, Rick advises, “that’s good, just don’t join the army.”

That same night, Rick is re-introduced to his old college buddy, Buck (Dylan Baker). He’s formed his own company now (as indicated on his business card, “Buck…My Own Company”) and their specialty is a secret one to which Rick may be tempted to enter into a partnership with when lines are crossed and all that remains important to him is threatened.

I’m not familiar with the Lemony Snicket books except that the first one is being made into a movie with Jim Carrey. Although now I’m anxiously awaiting to set foot in the next bookshop to pick up a copy. Handler’s sense of humor twists within the dark lands of Gilliam and the Coens and when mixed with the innovations of Clayton’s eye for the film’s stark, polished look creates a world that resembles ours but suggests a bizarro one. The cramp storage shed reminds us of the office building in Being John Malkovich and the private bar that Rick and Duke visit is corporate misogyny at its most refined.

Loosely based on the Verdi opera, Rigoletto, and owing a few more modern ticks from American Psycho (which plays on one TV), Rick is dark, dark comedy at its most hedonistic. It’s a tough tone to adapt, beginning with the slyness of the interchangeable business world (no one ever gets names right) to the tragic underpinnings of one man trying to regain his soul. “I used to be a good person,” Rick laments and Pullman has got this character down cold. He’s had a leg-up with roles in The Last Seduction, Lost Highway and Zero Effect but he’s never afraid to look ridiculous at the most ridiculous times. One has to both gasp and laugh with his off-guarded screams of shock.

Downshifting into its more sullen and nefarious tone in the final act, the Shakespearean coincidences may be too much to swallow. I don’t know I’d trust any professional organization with a description of their mark rather than a picture. But the consequences are real and we feel Rick’s pain as he reminisces with Eve about her mother and the choices he’s made since. Rick is about the loss of humanity in a land filled with automatons. Personal connections are lost as only the status quo matters, whatever that might mean to each individual. Rick is quirky, funny and yet reveals its sadness methodically until it may be too late for salvation. Although we pray it isn’t.

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originally posted: 03/11/04 13:18:04
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/18/08 Charles Tatum Loathsome film and characters 1 stars
10/23/05 Corky Deliciously vicious, with a dead=on satirical jab at the corporate world. 4 stars
3/27/05 Danny Rather slow, but entertains nonetheless. 4 stars
3/22/04 Bingo was his name-o Feh. Middling at best. 3 stars
3/20/04 patrick russell great flick 5 stars
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  24-Sep-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004



Directed by
  Curtiss Clayton

Written by
  Daniel Handler

  Bill Pullman
  Aaron Stanford
  Agnes Bruckner
  Dylan Baker
  Sandra Oh
  Jamie Harris

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