Sunday, March 13, 2011

Of Underpants and Clowns

I am perfectly aware that the thing which most concerns you is what movies I watch on TV at three in the morning when I can't sleep. Last night's feature was RICOCHET. What's the word I'm looking for? Subtle? No, that's not it. "Operatic" might be a polite way to put it. When I flipped to it, already in progress, the first image to greet my weary eyes was a clown staring directly into the camera and blowing a trumpet at me. This is never a good sign in a movie! It means you are about to enter an off-kilter realm where anything can happen and not in a good way. And sure enough, uniformed beat cop Denzel Washington soon has a fateful standoff with a gunman. And he responds the way any normal cop would respond, by stripping down to his underpants in the middle of the fateful standoff, to the surprise of the gunman and the hostage and everyone else. Is his wisecracking partner Kevin Pollak (see the photo above, which takes place right around the time the clown pops out and blows a trumpet) the most surprised of all? I really can't remember. But I bet he makes a wisecrack about it! He even makes a wisecrack after he has been - SPOILER ALERT - fatally shot by like a million bullets. (By coincidence, the cop played by Kevin Pollak does some of the same professional-level celebrity impressions that the real-life Kevin Pollak does in his comedy act!) I guess you think the movie is done with clowns and underpants now. You think wrong! Much later (years later in the movie's chronology) we get this line: "Don't shoot, please don't shoot, I'm just a clown!" The clown is addressing Denzel Washington, who - because he is slowly being driven mad by his nemesis - is wearing an open pink bathrobe and underpants! The clown removes his red rubber nose and waves his hands weakly about in a gesture of clowning. None of this is meant to be amusing as far as I could tell. But mainly the movie consists of John Lithgow suddenly turning around to reveal that he is John Lithgow or stepping into a patch of light to reveal that he is John Lithgow or rising from a stooped position to reveal that he is John Lithgow.