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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 Chris Parry

"Flirts with greatness but drops the ball at the 20."
2 stars

Rick opens with a Coen-esque, Labute-esque twist of nasty and quirky, to such great effect that the room hushed quickly as the audience tried to work out if they were going to hate this thing or love it. And at first, the love side was winning out. Bill Pullman, as a nasty, sexist, racist executive who has made a young Japanese woman's life a day of hell, quickly earns legitimate nasty cred, forcing you to watch closely just on the off-chance he'll get his comeuppance. Unfortunately, though the first act seethes in stuff you can sink your teeth into, as things roll on, Pullman's character moves across into a Nora Ephron film, predictable in path, dialogue, formula and ending. Hey, it had me, but then it lost me - early - and never got me back.

Pullman is Rick, a big bossman at a company that treats its people like McDonalds treats its cattle; get 'em in, chew 'em up, poop 'em out. And as one of the people behind this churning destrucution of humanity, Rick takes great delight in being an asshole. That's cool, I can take great delight in Rick being an asshole too. Give me In The Company of Men II and I'll be more than happy to give you ninety minutes of my time.

But then something goes wrong. After Rick tells a Japanese job applicant (the decidedly equine Sandra Oh) that he knows people and thus he knows that she's not the person for the job (in ways far more insulting than what I've just paraphrased), he sees her again later in a bar serving drinks. He takes another chance at abusing the girl, this time with his boss Duke (Aaron Stanford) laughing along behind him, and the girl thus loses her job, placing a curse of Rick for being such an interminable non-human.

We're about twenty minutes in here and things are going great, but it's at this point that I realize that I already know how this will all end, more or less. What do you think will happen? Will Rick learn his lesson, redeem himself and be a good boy forever, a la Scrooge, or will something truly nasty bite him on the ass in the manner of classic LaBute?

Like Billy Bob Thornton in a southern tale of redemption, Pullman is exposed to the error of his ways in a manner that isn't so much inventive and dramatic as drawn out and slow. As his daughter (Agnes Bruckner) is introduced to the audience, it's clear that she's going to be involved in something pivotal to the story, mainly because she's introduced as being Duke's online sex-talk buddy but from there it stalls, padding for time, until a wincing conclusion that just can't help but disappoint. Even the introduction of Dylan Baker as a quirky assassin can't right the sinking ship, and that's saying something.

Rick should have been a nasty piece of work - a truly vile expose of the worst of humanity getting the pointy end right up the ass on his way to the bowels of hell, but director Curtiss Clayton and writer Daniel Handler seem almost too worried that the matinee crowds won't be capable of handling the journey. As Rick's daughter and boss begin to cross paths, what should have been icky and disturbing instead becomes predictable and long. The big ending, which should be an awful shock, is seen coming for ten minutes, dulling the end of the film like a Ginsu knife that has been used to clear ice from the sidewalk. It slices! It dices! It couldn't open an envelope!

There's a great style to Clayton's work here that deserves more attention down the road, and Pullman is outstandingly nasty when the script calls for it, but Rick is unfortunately worth far less than the sum of its parts. In the end, it just doesn't deliver what it promises.

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originally posted: 03/22/04 11:00:27
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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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