Tuesday, April 06, 2004


(Note: This review was written on February 27, 2004, just a few days after "The Passion of the Christ" opened. The editors now feel that enough time has passed so that the painful experience of the film has receded enough and the review can now be released to a wider audience.)

I saw Mel’s Jesus movie. I went to the Cineramadome and sat down front row, center with my popcorn and my Coke, happily waiting for the film, good or bad. (And nothing is ever bad at the Cineramadome. Except “The Age of Innocence,” that was a dreary chore to sit through.)

The consensus?

It’s not as bad as you heard.
It’s a bad as you heard.
It’s worse than you could have imagined. (It’s not as bad as “The Age of Innocence,” though.)

The violence is not as bad as you heard. Oh, it’s pretty sadistic alright, and there is no lack of bloody limbs and ultra-gratuitous brutality. But they cut away a lot. Yeah, it made me wince a little here and there, but it’s not the bloodbath I expected. I am so disappointed!

The anti-Semitism is as bad as you heard. I really don’t know how anyone can see this movie and say that there are no grounds for the charges of anti-Semitism. Yeah, there are some “good Jews,” but the emphasis on the culpability and the savagery of the Jewish mob and the Jewish priests is overwhelming. Worse, there is no attempt to describe any kind of a motive to the actions of these blood-hungry Jews. (This lack of motive extends to MOST of the characters.) Mel’s emphasis on the suffering of Christ seems to just kind of barrel along without any real rhyme or reason and everybody plays his part ... and the part of the Jews is they hate Jesus and want to see him dead because ... uh, Mel (oops, I mean God) says so.

Worst of all, the movie is deadly dull at times. There are flashbacks and a bunch of running around by the rest of the players and a lot of the time it isn’t really very interesting. Even the torture scenes just go on and on and on ... and I didn’t want it to stop because of the violence. I wanted it to stop because I was so fucking bored!

(Which isn’t to say there aren’t good moments. A lot of the actors really cared about the film and some of the characterizations are very nice but all too fleeting. Some of the acting is pretty bad though, but I’ll get to Jim Caviezel in a minute.)

I can’t decide what the best title for the film should be: “The Passion of the Plastic Baby Jesus,” “The Greatest Story Ever Sold” (Or “The Dullest Story Ever Told”), “The Last Pretension of Christ,” “The Codswallop According to Mel.” (Somebody stop me!)

William S. Burroughs once wrote “Does Christ never tire of bleeding?” The real question is “Does Mel never tire of filming Christ bleeding?” Which brings us to Jim Cavaziel. He acts like he was born to play Christ. Oops, I said that wrong, it should be he acts like he thinks he was born to play Christ. Oh, boy, does he really lay on the agony! It’s quite embarrassing at times. I was a little uncomfortable for his sake, and for the sake of his family.

Oh, well, he’s a shoo-in for best performance by a bloody rag at next year’s Razzie awards.

I could go on. I didn’t have a pen with me, so these are only the jokes that I actually remember.

I hope you all have a good weekend, which means try to avoid this sadistic, self-indulgent, self-righteous, pointless, boring garbage.


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