One of the most amazing things about Joel and Ethan Coen is that the extraordinary risks they take have never resulted in a movie that's less than fascinating or entertaining. But for anyone wishing to see what a bad Coen movie would look like, here's The Naked Man. Co-written by Ethan Coen, The Naked Man is otherwise the product of first-time writer-director J. Todd Anderson, who has worked as the Coens' storyboard artist since Raising Arizona. Affable Michael Rapaport stars as a good-natured, extremely talented chiropractor who employs a Slim Goodbody-like jumpsuit to moonlight as a professional wrestler under the name "The Naked Man." All seems to be going well until Rapaport loses his drug-store-owning parents (and apparently his wife) to an evil pharmaceutical tycoon with spinal problems (Michael Jeter) and his Elvis-like sidekick. Maybe it looked good on paper or as a series of storyboard concepts, but there's scarcely a moment of The Naked Man that won't test viewers' patience, from Rapaport's crazed speech about the role of proper spinal health as it relates to good and evil to a seemingly 20-minute take in which grizzled cop Joe Grifasi attempts to prepare coffee. The Naked Man looks like a Coen movie, and feels a bit like one, too, but even if the Coens occasionally engage in quirkiness as an end to itself, they've never made a film that doesn't balance that tendency in a dozen other ways. Quirks and nothing else, The Naked Man has virtually nothing going for it, even if it does break the decades-long drought of chiropracty-oriented humor.
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