Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In other news, I hear Leatherface is stumping for immigration reform...

As President Obama continues the Democrat's sisyphean quest for Health Care reform, perhaps he can take some measure of comfort from the fact that - in the same weekend wherein he learned that Joe Lieberman plans to vote with the Republicans against the Public Option; we now learn that he at least has the support of one John Kramer, aka "Jigsaw," the serial-killer protagonist of the "Saw" movies.

"Saw 6," the most recent episode, opens with the Jigsaw-mandated self-imolation of two corrupt mortage loan officers, then for the main course serves up some "git th' bastard!!!!" torment of a heartless insurance company boss and, for good measure, the group of eeeeeevil overly-slick MBA brats who serve as his main team. Yes, the slowly-petering-out gorefest franchise has officially taken one of genre-film's classic first-steps toward oblivion: The socially-relevant "message" installment. Presumably, Jigsaw (or, rather, Jigsaw's posthumous minions) will battle Climate Change by stapling a polluting CEO's mouth to an exhaust pipe in Part 7; or feeding Wall Street derivatives-traders' intestines through a stock-ticker in Part 8.

Okay, for what it's worth marrying the standard outline of the post-Part-3 "Saw" movies to this particular cause of the month makes a certain amount of sense: Jigsaw is/was a terminal cancer patient who forces victims who don't "appreciate" their lives to endure gruesome endurance tests to teach them a lesson. Still, the risk of merging a franchise like this to a topical issue is always a matter of elevation versus deflation: If you're going to insert a serious socio-political argument - in this case the need for healthcare reform - into something as inherently silly as "Saw," the franchise must rise to meet the import of the issue OR the issue must become silly to mee the franchise. Those wondering which version has happened more often are advised to go watch "Superman 4: The Quest For Peace" again.

See, the "Saw" movies have always had a certain "preachy" quality as part of their hook: People struggle their way through torture traps while Jigsaw grumbles a narration largely made up on his own warped philosophy on life and death. THAT basically works, since Jigsaw's ramblings (and Tobin Bell's by-now iconic performance) matches up with the high-grade-schlock asthetic of the films-proper. Simply swapping that dialogue out with bumper-sticker bullet-points about insurance reform (Bell's vocals work overtime to make sure we never get tired of hearing him growl the word "policy") but keeping the actual movie around it as goofy as ever turns the whole thing into unintended comedy... a straight-faced version of those SNL "Weekend Update" bits where an ironically-appropriate fictional character delivers an editorial ("and now here with an opinion on gun control, Mr. Yosemite Sam.")

At the very least, even though it's now functional only as a kind of unwittingly-hillarious self-parody, it's at least more watchable on a technical level than the last two. If nothing else, hopefully this newfound technical acumen can carry through all the way to "Saw 10"... wherein, I imagine, Jigsaw will do battle against offshore drilling.


tyra menendez said...

that actually makes me want to see it, for the schlock value. like watching andy sidaris movies...

Joe said...

Thanks, I now wish to see this.

Sir Laguna said...

Have you seen it Bob? I think it manages the subject really well without making it seem stupid or irrelevan at any second. the irony of the related traps is really clever.

I know the Saw franchise has going downhill for the last two entries, but this one is pretty damn good.

Bob said...

Sir Laguna-
"Have you seen it Bob?"

Nah, I'm just so good at this by now I can write up and entire review of the film - along with cited examples of dialogue and characters - without spending even a moment actually watching it ;)

Sorry, couldn't resist :)

Yeah, I saw it. It's relatively cute how well the theme fits with the overall "Saw" setup, but being topical doesn't excuse bad, ham-fisted writing. The flashback scenes of "Healthier Jigsaw" verbally sparring with the insurance guy are SHOCKINGLY awful, the absolute worst kind of talking-to-the-audience "MESSAGE!!!" dialogue imaginable.

Sophie said...

Great, thank you VERY much Bob. Now that I have read, that maybe, just maybe, Saw IV might ...just might... have another sidepoint... I suddenly do want to see it. Which means I have to get myself through 4 and 5 (as I stopped watching after 3) watching that superman movie you mentioned. Thanks.
See what you did to me?^^