All American Girl

AMERICAN PSYCHO II:
ALL AMERICAN GIRL. 2002

DESERT BLUE. 1998

Director: Morgan J. Freeman

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



I enjoyed the first American Psycho quite a bit. American Psycho 2: All American Girl really has nothing at all to do with the first film. There's a bit of a "bridge" in the opening scene which ties the new tale to the first one, but then we follow the inheritor of Patrick Bateman's psychosis, a beautiful young woman (played with conviction & black humor by That 70s Show's Mila Kunis, who I never took much notice of before this).

The premise is that "Rachel" (not her real name; she has no real name) wants to grow up to be a serial killer of serial killers -- great premise even though hardly brand new -- but in order to get into the heart of the FBI where she knows she'll be empowered to do this, she must kill her way through an education under assumed identities to reach the top. She's a super-sociopath who even knows how to orchestrate her own crazed deterioration in a way that will benefit herself.

Now obviously this is a wild fantasy entirely divorced from real serial killers, & purely an entertainment. It is played in great part for laughs but it approaches being intelligently satric rather than slapstick like the Scary Movie films. It sustains such a poker-faced manner that it does have suspense.

The first half-hour of the film approaches being brilliant. Our psycho despite her beauty is not likeable in the typical way of a Norman Bates being a loveable psycho, but we are so amused by her we just about like her even though she's merely a horrible self-serving bad person. The dissonance between the usual "stalker" camera shots, & the jaunty happy soundtrack, is one of the most brilliant touches.

But after the first half-hour it begins to get a bit tiresome, & the little "mystery tale" bits (we don't see exactly what she's going to pull off until the last couple scenes) is so simplistic it doesn't seriously add enough layering to the film for it to be a great deal more than a comedy sketch that went on a little too long to sustain the joke.

But even feeling as I do that the last two-thirds were not brilliant, it was still a pretty good film, & compared to most psycho-killer films it was wonderfully acted, well enough written, with a glossy look that well disguises its small budget.

William Shatner turns in a good performance; either I've gotten used to his hamminess after decades of it, or he's a better actor in old age than ever he was in Star Trek, as rather than laughably bad, he's come to seem like an asset to any film he's in, & is a great comic actor in the television series Boston Legal.

There's also a fine performance by Geraint Wyn Davies as the psychologist who sees at once that Rachel is a class-A sociopath. He plays his role so straight that he is standing entirely outside of the film as a comedy, & his fear of her registers as very real.

All American GirlBut overall, it's a one-actor show, & hinges entirely on the lively upbeat performance by Mila. Whoever doesn't like her antic humorous approach to the role will not like the film, but for me she seemed exactly the right casting & she pulled it off so well that I will actually pay attention to her as an actor for a while, until I find out whether or not she's reliably this good.


Another film by the same director was called Desert Blue & I watched it cuz I watch everything with Christina Ricci, who plays the town's Morbid Rebellious Teen.

Kate Hudson plays the daughter of a well-meaning twink of a father (John Heard) who has taken her on a quest to see the world's largest ice cream cone (a roadside attraction) bringing her into contact with the few remaining young people in a dying desert town.

It was not an exciting film, as there are no big cinematic events or themes. Although it's the very opposite of an actioner, it was eccentric & enjoyable, about teenagers without much to do in a dirtwater town, plus it was about the human capacity to dream & desire.

It has very few touchstones that carry over into the utterly different American Psycho 2, except both have young protagonists with dreams. Desert Blue was rather realistic in an impressionistic manner, whereas AP2 is an outright black-humor comedy of horror. AP2 reminded me a bit of the femme fatale films of John Dahl (Red Rock West, The Last Seduction), but funnier.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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