Worth A Look: 18.65%
Pretty Bad: 4.28%
Total Crap: 19.57%
18 reviews, 219 user ratings
This movie was shit, pure and simple. It's a shame that the less intelligent of the human species mistook lack of depth for meaning. This movie was nothing more than typical Hollywood melodrama built on a somewhat promising pretense that took it to undeservingly high expectations of grandeur.To waste time explaining the plot of this waste of time would be exactly that--wasting time. This movie has already forced me to throw away nearly four hours of my life; I think that is sufficient. Let's get straight to the point--or rather, the lack of point--of this movie.
"One of the worst movies I've ever bothered watching."
To give a general idea of story, I will build on all that has already been said--yes, this movie DID explore the range of human emotions, only poorly and no more than does any other dramatic dribble dished out to the public on a weekly basis. Yes, this movie DID try to make a very powerful point...operative word being TRY. It was about as successful at doing this as Superstar was at elliciting laughs (pardon the weak comparison).
I think what enrages me the most is that this movie was compared to American Beauty. That some idiot would even attempt to place Magnolia on the same plane as American Beauty is both ridiculous and disheartening--I weep for the lack of understanding that is all too present in society. That Magnolia couldn't do in three and a half hours what American Beauty did flawlessly in two is proof enough of which is the superior of the two. However, that apparently isn't enough for some people. To properly rip apart Magnolia and simultaneously elevate American Beauty I think the meanings of both movies should be thouroughly explored.
I can see the point Magnolia was TRYING to make: sometimes the things we think are impossible actually do happen. Okay. And to demonstrate this you give me a storm of frogs? Fucking frogs? Please people, do not mistake lack of creativity for genius. How powerful can a message possibly be when it must be delivered by frogs? Just something to ponder... Now, the other point the movie was apparently trying to make is that people are generally fucked up. Okay. You needed three and half hours to tell me that, and even then THAT was the message I was waiting for??
I will admit, there is a certain amount of entertainment value in the movie. Although it was 3.5 hours long, it did not fail to hold my interest. The first thing that was particularly intriguing was the connections between all the characters. But that connection proved to be part of the movie's ruin. It seemed as if the director's reason for connecting all the characters was to show how entirely and irrevocably fucked up society is. While I will be the first to admit that people in general are pretty screwed up, I will also admit that I know of a lot of good people in this world--people that are connected to one another and AREN'T completely screwed up in the head. By connecting all these horribly deceitful people to each other, it was almost as if we were expected to draw a parallel to society with them, but their problems and faults just aren't necessarily typical of society. And while there were some genuinely good people in this movie, they got so little attention it was almost as if they didn't matter.
Aside from all that though, the movie itself was genuinely interesting. The whole movie is spent building up the tragedies of all its characters. Therein lies the problem. This movie would be nothing if it weren't for the SEVERAL dramatic plots unfolding around each other. Any one taken singularly could have made it's own weepy blockbuster; that doesn't mean any one of them possessed any sort of meaningful purpose. It just means they were depressing enough to draw in hoards of bored housewives. Put together, however, and the separate plots still don't accomplish any more than that. Yeah, death is sad and tragic, but it's sad and tragic in every sad and tragic movie. Yeah, people have problems, but people have problems in every movie. That's what makes the stories interesting enough to be made into movies; there's a reason it's called the entertainment industry. And yes, while the separate stories together take the audience through the spectrum of human emotion, it does so without any seeming point whatsoever. A sad movie does not make a meaningful one. Oh sure, one can assume what the point was probably supposed to be, but that doesn't change the fact that the ending was so poorly done that when the point needed to be showcased and exemplified the most the movie failed miserably and almost sadly--all that talent wasted on absolutely nothing.
And talent there was--incredible amounts of it. Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore deserve Academy Award nominations for their powerful, albeit wasted, performances. The actors were, in fact, the only redeeming quality of this movie. If my time had to be wasted, at least I was entertained in the meantime. Unfortunately, the surplus of talent found in the actors couldn't make up for the complete lack thereof in writing and direction.
The difference between this and American Beauty? American Beauty DID have meaning. It left the audience silent and dumbfounded for several minutes after its powerful conclusion. Magnolia left the audience dumbfounded at the fact that they wasted three and a half hours for THAT. The meaning of Magnolia can be adequately guessed, even if it wasn't adequately represented. The meaning of American Beauty was so profound and so impacting and so subtle that I still today cannot fully articulate or even understand the magnitude of it; it was so beautiful and so powerful words cannot do it justice. Magnolia was ugly by comparison; a jumbled, confused, misdirected mess.
I'm still pissed about those fucking frogs, and for those of you who have already seen it, don't give me any of that symbolism bullshit--symbolism is the use of red in American Beauty, not the raining down of frogs in Magnolia. I still can't believe that that was supposed to be the climax of the movie; it is no more than laughable, if not worse. And it certainly does not make for an adequate conclusion.
The saddest thing is that this movie could have been at least good. There was a definite promise throughout the entire movie, and although no movie can be truly great when it's based entirely on one tragedy after another, it could have been at least GOOD.
The frogs ruined it, though.
The lack of a meaningful conclusion didn't help.
Basic plot summary: sad, sad, sad, sad, frogs, end.
Just go see American Beauty and don't even bother with the pretentious trash that is Magnolia.I can't believe I even wasted my time.
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1727&reviewer=86
originally posted: 01/17/00 16:14:51