Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Wicker Man

Illustration for article titled The Wicker Man


• Remaking a 1973 cult hit by replacing everything interesting with cheap shocks, vapid characters, belabored symbolism, and endlessly idiotic exchanges


• Relying heavily on repetitive flashbacks and nightmares to give a mostly flaccid story a tiny bit of tension

• Generally making no damn sense

Defenders: Writer-director Neil LaBute, stars Leelee Sobieski and Kate Beahan, editor Joel Plotch, costume designer Lynette Meyer

Tone of commentary: Breathless, wordy. LaBute chatters nearly nonstop throughout, mostly addressing what's going on onscreen and why, symbolically speaking. He occasionally asks his co-commentators questions, then cuts them off after a sentence or two. They praise the film immoderately, though LaBute jokingly accuses Plotch of patting his own back so often that the joke wears thin.

What went wrong: LaBute briefly mentions the "panic of shooting the end," where things were so chaotic that a whole twist ending where Beahan's character turned out to be twins "just got away from us" and was lost. Also, one complicated shot didn't work: "Everybody else knew what a bad idea it was, but they just humored me along the way until finally I came to the realization, 'This really sucks.' I tried to blame it on somebody else. And I probably still do… Joel."

Comments on the cast: Nicolas Cage "would stop right during a scene" to demand rewrites based on how he felt "a real cop" would behave. This necessitated rewrites up to the last day of shooting. Also, LaBute says Sobieski was "quite game and wanted to take as many punches as possible."

Inevitable dash of pretension: LaBute brags about his nods to Terrence Malick, William Blake, Planet Of The Apes, and Edgar Allen Poe. He's also prone to ridiculous sentences like "I'm not someone to use a lot of montage, but this certainly turned out to be a sequence where I guess you would say that that's the case."


Commentary in a nutshell: LaBute on Plotch, around the fourth time he says Plotch is undermining him: "If he would edit himself, rather than me, it would be much more pleasing to the spirit. Do you have anything bad to say about this scene that I did?"