Will Preston

How far can a joke be stretched out before it loses it’s edge?

by on Dec.08, 2010, under Films, Review

“They fucked with the wrong Mexican!”. I’m still not tired of hearing that line grunted out by a deep voiced announcer in what was a joke trailer between the two Grindhouse films. At first, it looked comfortable enough as a joke that shouldn’t go past the concept point, but then Robert Rodriguez decides to expand on the joke. Usually this is a bad idea. You could almost accuse him of milking even the smallest of his ideas for as much money as he can get. Everything about the trailer is hammy, but that was the point. That was the joke. It was supposed to be a three minute stab at the kind of ridiculous garbage that grindhouse style movies shat out during the seventies. Just because Rodriguez thinks it’s good, can he transform his private joke into a monumental gag that everyone will get? Two hours later, I’m convinced that he’s just about done it.

Trejo's job as a blade salesman is what started off his acting career

With this film, it’s meant to be a low budget and badly done film. That’s the trick. Our expectations of the film are so low that we’re going to come out of the cinema with nothing but praise. It’s a cheap trick, but it worked. The film is a simple revenge plot that morphs into a tale of back stabbing and even more revenge. Machete (Protagonist played by Danny Trejo) is a Mexican federal agent who has his family killed by drug lord Torrez (Steven Seagal, who’s looking the same age but fatter). After escaping to Texas and working as a migrant labourer, he is dragged into a cobwebby plot of murder and politics. The politics involve the anti-immigration stance of Texas and the coming building of an electric fence to keep out the Mexicans. But it won’t distract you from the oodles of gore. Limbs fly and bad guys die. And in many creative ways that you can do with knives.

The violence reaches a point of being so ridiculous that you wait in anticipation of seeing how the next villain will get dispatched. At one point during the movie, Machete slashes four hired goons with surgical knives before cutting out one of the still standing, and still very much alive, goons intestinal track. He then uses it as a fleshy rope as he dives out the window and swings into another window whilst the poor man just stands there acting as the first human bungee rope. They’ve either raised the bar for ridiculous violence or lowered the bar for acceptable entertainment, depending on how uptight you are about censorship. For me, that bar kept raising and I loved it. The cameos got a tad ridiculous as well. Cheech Marin plays a shotgun wielding priest, Robert De Niro plays a racist Texas senator and Lindsey Lohan plays…well…herself. The first time she’s on screen, she’s carried out of a crackhouse by her father whilst mashed off her suspiciously perky tits on something guaranteed to fell a whale.

"God has mercy; I don't!" - one of the better quips

This was the weirdest cameo I’ve ever seen in a film. It’s like casting OJ Simpson as serial killer. Sure he’ll get the part right down to a tea, but you still have this uncomfortable feeling of seeing them on-screen basically being themselves. Another weird cameo was Don Johnson, who’s looking lot older from his Crockett days on Miami Vice. Jeff Fahey gets away with playing a sleazy business man without me hating him due to his lovely blue eyes and business class mullet. The only people starring in it that you pretty much weren’t surprised about were Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez (any relation?) who were bound to pop up in this sort of thing.

If you’re looking for a shallow and explosive affair with absolutely no concept of subtlety, then this is the one to swing for. If you’re in doubt about whether it will live up to trailer in terms of comedy value, have a stab at it. It’s a joke that keeps getting funnier.

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