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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.68%
Average: 21.62%
Pretty Bad: 16.22%
Total Crap: 4.05%

6 reviews, 38 user ratings

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Cecil B. Demented
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by Thom

"A movie for film lovers and independant film lovers"
4 stars

Nobody can accuse John Waters of softening up. However, he made a movie about hard core film making, rather than engage in guerilla film making. But he did that already. People seem to forget that he paved the way. He was there first, doing it all along.

Geurilla Film.

Kidnapping, Patty Hearst. its so self-referential I can't even untie it in my own head. Patty Hearst was kidnapped, and then identified with the goals of her kidnappers and joined them in their struggle. Honey Whitlock, slave to the script, gets kidnapped and forced to star in a no budget independant. She identifies with the goals of her kidnappers and joins their struggle. Patty Hearst has a small role.

This film is an odd parody of real life.

or is life an odd parody of this film?

Melanie Griffith plays an actress who, through no fault of her own, gets a new image and resurrects her career. Melanie Griffith plays a radically different kind of character in this film. But damn if she's not a good actress.

I don't really know that much about film making. I review them, not make them, but I imagine there must have been a lot of in-jokes for all the film industry gad abouts and wannabes who have painstakingly studied the hollywood machinery, worked in movie theatres, schlepped together their low budget masterpieces and stayed as obscure as ever.

Cecil didn't want to be famous, he wanted to make a movie. Cecil B. Demented is also a parody of "Fringe" film makers, of which there are many who have a take no prisoners attitude when it comes to Hollywood style film making and the mediocre crap that gets pandered to the public. And of course, because he was so radical, so committed, so willing to go the extra step to get his film made, he got a lot of attention and fame followed him for being who he was, not for what he had created. Unless you consider that the air around him bristled with Dementia because of him and being in that Demented zone blew off the shackles of monotony and conformity for a brainwashed and banal movie going public. maybe that was his art.


I am guilty of this, I know. But it is funny to see how he picks on money making films that were hugely popular and treat them like a stinking diaper. Cecil B Demented is the logic of independant cinema touting its artistic superiority while downgrading Hollywood films. Buts its apples and oranges, people. Unlike a rose, that would still smell as sweet, Film is just a medium. It carries forth. It holds. and its just as easy to hold an apple as it is an orange. Hollywood makes its movies, independant film makers make theirs. A lot of indies are like the minor leagues. "Do well here and you may be recruited off the farm".

As if it works like that. Demented is about disdain. And the Hollywood film machinery is such an easy target when you want to glorify artistic integrity and the creative process as an organic process and art as a conversation within culture, not as a discrete commodity which is traded on the open market.

Apples and Oranges. Not better, not worse, just different. With different ends and different means.

I do appreciate the idea that if you could liberate peoples minds, you could open a fresh new window in our public lives and open up the floodgates of creativity and meaning and put art in the hands of the people, rather than in front of the people. We are not supposed to buy experiences, we are supposed to live them.

And here comes that touchy grey area where you hear the words "sell out" a lot.

Remember, its just a movie. As Cecils mother reminds him near the end of the film.

Waters returns to his tasteless humor in this film. Its not a non-stop attempt to celebrate the grotesque and the bizarre, the incongruous and the unexpected, but he doesn't abandon the kitschy trash cinema he invented.

America's love for the movies and their permanent and central fixture in American culture is the almost invisible backdrop for this film. Waters has to point out now and again that movies are ubiquitious and our relationship to all things Hollywood is so ingrained in our culture that we don't really notice it.

His playful use (when is he ever not playing) of theatre marquees and of abandoned downtown movie theatres, because of the rise of the suburban megaplex, comment on the movies as entertainment that can't be stopped. Its true, you can't stop Hollywood. But after seeing this movie, I'm not sure I'd want to.

Hollywood knows how to create, distribute and keep the passion of the public alive. Demented also plays with America's relationship to so called celebrity. I think Hollywood is afraid of the day when people look out their windows and think "celebrity? whats to celebrate?". Give me a good conversation and a cheap red wine any day of the week. Starstruck... thats how they getcha. And they start training early on. Fandom. What is it, really? can you be appreciative without being obsessed? Can you think an artist is interesting without really caring about his art?

That didn't have anything to do with the movie, but I thought it would give the review text-ure.

Cecil B Demented looks at our relationship to fame in only subtle ways and from the perspective of the famous. Words still hurt. criticism still stings. Artists, after all, want to be loved, just like anybody else does.

This movie is brilliant. It weaves so many funky strands together and blurs the distinction between "real" and "imaginary" inside the story of film as a medium that blurs the line between real and imaginery by virture of it being a FILM about making a FILM. Those things always get my head whacked. too many things to hold in resident memory at once. The play within the play. The plays the thing to catch the King. God Damn, I'm always going to quote Shakespeare. He knew everything.

So I gotta wonder if Waters pissed off everyone in Hollywood with his movie or is Hollywood above criticism if it means profit? I suspect that if you can defer disatisfaction and turn it into profits, you will have made money, given people an emotional outlet and never have to change the methods people were critical of in the first place.

Its like the Fight Club. Sure it could have been a classic of resistance and rebellion and make an intelligent comment on the role of class, desire and wealth in society, but that would not be the Hollywood way and quite frankly, even I'M getting bored of "intelligent commentary". It takes so much longer to explain why something sucks than it does to even make the sucky thing in question.

the challenges of the review. Should you go see this movie? If what I said reminded you of stuff you know and people you know, then yes. Its fun and won't insult you. It doesn't belittle the independant spirit even if it caricutarizes it. It also doesn't denigrate film makers, just studio execs, which we all know are the real evil rulers of the kingdom.

I have not been here, you have not heard these things. I'm still looking for a buyer. One soul for sale.

its foooking Brilliant!

Aspiring film makers and other no-budget "culture workers" will love the closing song "No Budget", written by John Waters.

I wonder if anyone who hasn't spent any time discussing Mainstream versus Independant gets that this movie is only fictional in the acting out, not of the sentiment.

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originally posted: 08/18/00 12:35:20
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User Comments

3/16/11 David McMillan This movie saved my life 5 stars
12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper God bless John Waters 5 stars
4/21/09 Vince Decent enough. I'd watch it again. Dorff is very good here 4 stars
3/18/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Demented forever! 4 stars
12/07/07 Adrian Loved it. 5 stars
2/07/07 Glenn Soffen WOW, What happened John? This movie sucks! 1 stars
9/22/04 Anarchist_101 Not really what I'd expected but... Not-FUCKIN'-bad! 4 stars
3/25/04 Lord Haw Haw Worth seeing for the Forrest Gump parody. 3 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Very unique Waters outing with Griffith quite good; not for everyone though. 4 stars
10/16/03 Charles Tatum Ironically, Waters' most mainstream film! 4 stars
7/29/03 Taylor Lindberg God couldn't make a better movie than this. DEMENTED FOREVER! 5 stars
7/23/03 Kath I agree with the review. There's some quality stuff here.. but it's hard to find. 3 stars
7/22/03 Cori sooo effing awesome 5 stars
6/08/03 earl hoffert certainly not the best of waters' efforts, but still better than 'pecker' 3 stars
4/24/03 Dave Good for a dumb comedy. Some great inside film humour. 3 stars
11/12/02 Vicious Toy/Electric Crotch A throwback to Waters's pre-Pink Flamingos films, only with a bigger budget and star names. 4 stars
8/07/02 I Can't Swim Waters has lost his touch. Sad to say but its true. Wanted to shoot Mel 1 stars
6/20/02 zotteLORRE this movie is plain pointless 2 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden This Movie Is Demented. It Would Have Been So Much Better, If Waters Hadn't Directed It. 2 stars
1/03/02 Jake This is the most unfunny Waters movie along with Cry-baby. 2 stars
1/02/02 hum good ideas but lazy " hey, same old schtick will do) 2 stars
10/16/01 Sthenno Worst of all Waters' films.Has funny moments but the idea is funnier then the actual film. 2 stars
9/21/01 Paul C. Panko Great use of subtle critisizm 4 stars
7/13/01 Roy Smith It's got Melanie Griffith. And she's good in it! Amazing! 5 stars
6/21/01 Mr. Char Great movie, especially the comment of greenlighting patch adams, that man should die 5 stars
4/15/01 GeorgE McCaul One of the few John Waters movies that I liked, go see it . 5 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Hit-and-miss Waters flick, good idea not used to full potential. 4 stars
1/30/01 jen k 4 stars
1/30/01 Noble Ceverin Moodhe This movie went from zero to twisted in less than six seconds, and then it stayed that way. 4 stars
11/10/00 skye laughed hard. john waters' best (?) 4 stars
9/13/00 PJ This movie was so fucking funny, cool, true, and campy as hell, Griffith trully shines 5 stars
9/09/00 Blubberbot If you like John Waters you'll love this movie. 4 stars
9/07/00 Bill Moore Water's has lost it. "There's a fine line between clever and stupid." 2 stars
9/03/00 Jim McBride His best movie since Hairspray 4 stars
9/02/00 ALIaS An absolute satirocal masterpiece! I didnt stop laughing or thinking the whole time!! 5 stars
8/28/00 Indie It's great because it's so trashy and satirical & John Waters is being tasteless! =^( 1 stars
8/23/00 bart Hysterical parody of Patty Heart story with the real Patty. Melanie - perfect role for her. 5 stars
8/16/00 Heather See this movie or die! Guerilla filmmaking at it's best. 5 stars
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  11-Aug-2000 (R)



Directed by
  John Waters

Written by
  John Waters

  Stephen Dorff
  Melanie Griffith
  Alicia Witt
  Patty Hearst
  Adrian Grenier

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