American Psycho

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 Hour and 41 Minutes

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: D-

The only reason I am rating this film as highly as I am is because, for its countless myriad of flaws, it does contain one of the funniest homicides in motion picture history. Patrick Batman (wall street executive, serial killer, venal asshole and general waste of flesh) is extolling the virtues of Huey Lewis and the News. His captive (Jared Leto, last seen losing the war on drugs in "Requiem For a Dream") sits in a chair surrounded by newspapers. Patrick stands behind him, dressed in a raincoat and bearing an axe. Finally, his rant comes to an end. He yells "Hey Paul" and has at the poor man with the afore-mentioned axe while "Hip to be Square" plays over the soundtrack. Poor Jared. First he's a victim in "Urban Legend", then he gets pummeled in "Fight Club", then he endures the various drug-related tortures of "Requiem For a Dream". When will this guy ever appear in a cheery movie?

I only mention this scene as a public service announcement. It is Chapter 7 on the DVD. Now you can rent it, watch the one good scene, take it back, and never have to put yourself through the rest of this piece of shit.

Yes, it is a piece of shit. I've seen a lot of movies this year that didn't impress me, but there were only two that genuinely enraged me. "The Grinch" was one of them. This thing was the other.

For all its supposed messages about Eighties excess and materialism (huh? I must have missed something), "American Psycho" is nothing more than just another slasher film. Instead of Freddy or Jason, we get Patrick Bateman. He is good looking and rich, but other than that he is just as one-dimensional a killing machine as the others I mentioned. Christian Bale's performance here is actually embarrassing. He reminded me as nothing so much as a man doing a very bad Jim Carrey impression. He forces a shit-eating grin, looks sullen and then hacks some people up. That is the extent of his performance. It is too cartoonish to be serious and too humorless to be funny. Therefore, his performance in this picture works on absolutely no levels. Bale did a good job playing a three-dimensional asshole in "Shaft" opposite Sam Jackson, but he barely has ONE dimension here.

The rest of the movie is the same way. I guess I was meant to be disturbed or entertained or something by this movie, but I wasn't. It throws in lots of gory violence and three-way sex and even some violence against cats, hoping to incite controversy through these tried-and-true, by the book methods, but it only resulted in boring me. There is no point to this movie, except to revel and cavort in its own repulsive nastiness. There is an unpleasantness to this movie that is actually maddening. And rather lifeless. By the end, the movie completely dives off the deep end. It passes everything off as a delusion, a dream. It's sorta like faking your death of cancer and then popping out of your coffin and saying "Just Kidding, Folks!" The movie can't even take itself seriously, why should we?

And why does it pussy out? Because it knows it has no point. It is as self-obsessed as its main character, and just as much fun to spend time with. It is venal and mean-spirited and hateful toward women and gays and white people and pretty much everyone. And there is no point to any of it. No point whatsoever. It cannot make its points in any logical, thought-provoking manner, so it just kills a few prostitutes. Whatever happened to subtlety? Did it die? Where did it go? I miss subtlety. This movie is about as subtle as getting fisted in the men's room of a Red Lobster, and just as pleasant! It uses violence as a means to an end, but what end? It glorifies violence and uses it as the ultimate form of catharsis, the ultimate release for tension. It bludgeons us over the head with violent acts committed by a venal, conceited asshole and then asks us to find them amusing. This movie made me want to kill people, all right. It made me want to kill the people who made this pile of shit!

At the end, the main character even says that the movie has meant nothing!!! So what the fuck was the point? What the hell did it hope to achieve? Hope to prove? I guess it was meant to inspire a debate, to illustrate... well, SOMETHING! But in the end, it's as vapid and nasty as its main character. It is an empty, soulless movie about an empty, soulless man. Which wouldn't be so bad if he weren't also so damn BORING. When a character's only interesting facet is a penchant for mass homicide, you know you're in trouble. The film even manages to botch the image of a man running naked down a hallway with a chainsaw in his grasp. That is the sign of a truly inept filmmaker. This movie is sorta like "A Clockwork Orange", only far, far dumber.

Basically, the movie just bored me and pissed me off. If you want to see a nasty, venal, charmless and dull movie about a dull, conceited, vapid asshole and his hatred for everyone who doesn't measure up to his snobby view of the world (which is pretty much everyone), then by all means, feel free to watch this pathetic waste of film.

Personally, I'd rather watch something good.

Reviewer: Erik
Grade: A-

There's a scene in "American Psycho" where the main character, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), is ready to kill a co-worker. The co-worker is sitting in the middle of the room in a chair that's on top of about 25 square feet of taped-down newspaper. Bateman doesn't jump at the kill just yet. He prefers to discuss Huey Lewis and The News at great lengths. Finally, he axes the guy. Repeatedly.

That's one reason, but there are many why most people will undoubtedly hate this film. When I say this film is not for everybody, it's the understatement of the year.

That aside, "American Psycho" is a wild ride, devilishly fun most of the time, and with an unorthodox ending you'll either love or hate. I welcomed the ending. If you like things wrapped up and solved by the end, skip this movie.

Bateman is a Wall Street type, in competition with all of his co-workers, spending too much time talking about the big NYC restaurants, discussing the hip new '80s music, pampering himself with the highest quality facial products. He's engaged to Evelyn Williams (Reese Witherspoon), who won't shut up about marriage. On the side, he's seeing Courtney Rawlinson (Samantha Mathis), who's too doped up on anti-depressants to ever do or say anything of importance. He bosses around his secretary Jean (Chloe Sevigny), who's got a crush on him although he tells her to dress sexier.

Workplace competition fuels some of the murders. How about the others? Vanity, for sure, comes into play. It's a male ego thing where he wants to show off power, whether it's the sexual conquest of a couple of women or berating a bum who's lost his job. Then, finally, Bateman kills just because he must satisfy that urge.

The last 20 minutes of this movie are a pure psychological mind-screw. Bateman slips deeper and deeper, finally ending up on a murderous spree. He calls his lawyer to confess. That's all I'll say. The ending can be interpreted in a handful of ways. My take, without giving too much away, is that he's indeed a psycho but probably not the monster we've made him out to be.

I've discussed a lot about Bateman, the main character, which is the way to go because minor characters aren't the point here. They fade in and out, and we don't learn much about them. However, I've managed to overlook Mary Harron's direction to this point. There are a lot of nice shots. Look no further than the opening minute or two for a nice curveball of an opening.

What's the point of the movie, if not a character study of Patrick Bateman? "American Psycho" satirizes the '80s, specifically the excessiveness that went along with it, where image is everything. If you don't have the hippest new business card or eat at the place where you can rarely get a table, you're nobody. Patrick Bateman tries to fit in. It's just that he's got this little problem with murder.

"American Psycho" is a black comedy with a lot of awkward laughs and oddball scenes, with inspired camera work and direction. Some advice, though: Don't take mom to see it.

Reviewer: Jones
Grade: B-

Last night, I decided to go to one of the local theaters and check this film out. In going, I didn't quite know what to expect of this film, but I ended up leaving the theater a little disappointed by what I saw.

Christian Bale is wonderfully sadistic as Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street type, who is all about anything but the status quo. As the film begins he seems to be leading a fairly normal life. He goes to luncheons with some of his colleagues, listens to music with a passion, and cares deeply about his dry cleaning. He is engaged to Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon), who is totally oblivious to anything Patrick says, or does, for that matter. The scene that introduces her is particularly amusing. She is babbling on about wedding plans, while Bateman is attempting to dissect the new Robert Palmer album. He becomes irritated by the interruption and essentially ends the conversation with his bluntness.

As the film progresses, hints are dropped about what is really lying under Bateman's pleasant exterior. These all lead up to him going "Paul Bunyan" on a coworker while discussing the work of Huey Lewis and The News, engaging in an affair, and randomly killing a number of other people.

This brings us to the part of the film that let me down. The ending. The first hour of the film is wonderfully done. The humor is very dark, and yet very dry at the same time. Such as when a hooker arrives at Bateman's apartment and he greets her by saying, with a wry little smile, "So glad you could come." Other points of interest are the moments with Bateman and his colleagues comparing business cards, like battle wounds are in "Jaws".

So what is wrong with the end of this film? The problems are too numerous to explain completely, but I will give an overview. The film just seems to lose itself in the final twenty minutes or so. Things happen way too quickly for my taste. Bateman makes a bunch of rash decisions at the end, which lead up to a "ho, hum" ending. Had the filmmakers extended the movie by about ten to fifteen minutes the film would have been enhanced dramatically.

This is one of those films that has an ending that is open to interpretation. Problem is, it seems like it has that ending simply because the filmmakers could think of no better way to resolve the film.

Aside from the letdown of an ending, this film has many things going for it, as I mentioned earlier. Bale is marvelous and Reese Witherspoon is adorable as usual, although sadly underused throughout the course of the film.

The positives outweigh the negatives, but just barely. In the end "American Psycho" is a bold dark comedy, that got a little too bold for it's own good.