Eye of the Beholder

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By Mark Ramsey | 2000/01/28

The folks at Pixar, makers of Toy Story, have a wise motto: “Story is King.” But at Destination films, makers of Eye of the Beholder, “Story is the Duke of Hazard.”

I’m watching the commercials for this movie and seeing outrageously hyperbolic blurb-o-rama:

“A top-notch thriller” – The Studio Hand-Job Entertainment Network

“This may be Ashley Judd’s best work to date” – Publicityflack.com

“One of the most hypnotic thrillers ever made” – Amazing Kreskin’s Hollywood

“I liked the way the cast list scrolled up at the end” – TIME Magazine

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m no snob. My brow is so middle it snags my toothbrush. But Eye of the Beholder is monstrously Bad with a capital “B.”

Obi-Wannabe Ewan McGregor plays the “eye,” while Ashley Judd and various permutations of lacy undergarments play the “beheld.” Booty is in the eye of this beholder. Meanwhile you, my movie-going friend, play the sucker that’s born every minute if you lay out your hard-earned bread for this turkey. Better to flush the bucks down the toilet – at least the draining water features swirling action, and there’s no gum under the seat.

A stalker love story; what could be more enticing? Why is Ewan going ga-ga over Ashley Judd, anyway? Why is a monkey eating peanuts in a pub as Ewan hoists a Guinness? Why is the British Intelligence Com-center staffed by a crack team of lesbians – is this a Bryn Mawr semester abroad? Why is Ewan able to tap into Ashley’s bedroom video from his PC on an airplane, of all places? And if you could do this, who wouldn’t pay four bucks for a headset? Talk about a cock-pit!

Ewan calls a bell-tower home. It’s noisy, but he can count on meeting a chick named Esmeralda if he’s ever publicly flogged in the town square.

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Most cloying and inscrutable of all is Ewan’s ghostly daughter – now lost and a figment of his imagination. She appears regularly in her Shetland sweater and tartan skirt to giddily skip, jump rope, play hopscotch, and taunt daddy with Father Knows Best era clichés. Couldn’t Ewan dream up a Barbie playset and Easy-Bake oven to keep this kid busy? I’d like to wrap some Silly String around her throat. Is this a casting call for Annie?

Ewan collects sno-globes. Not because they reveal anything about his character, but because they serve as a ravenously pretentious and ridiculous transitioning device. Need a scene-change to Chicago? Close-up on the Chicago sno-globe as the scene dissolves. Each globe is a “portal” into another locale when it should be a portal into different theater and a better movie.

Check it: Some anonymous player-dude flirts with Ashley, suggesting he recognizes her from somewhere. “Everybody looks like somebody else,” replies Ashley. “I’ll agree with that, toots!” he says, echoing romance kings, the Three Stooges. Say, numbskull, whoop, whoop! Ruff! Ruff! Use the “foice,” Ewan! Soitenly!

Ashley’s hangin’ with a wealthy blind vintner. This earnestly Julio Gallo thinks he owns acres of vineyards in Sonoma, when he actually sports a backyard garden in Pomona. Poor bastard. And just like the rest of us, he can’t tell Ashley’s sister from her mom. Ignorance really is bliss.

So Ashley gets nabbed in Chicago by the “Federal Police.” The what? What kind of fascist faction is this? And why are they driving “Red & Eggshells” instead of “Blue & Whites”? Who’s the arresting officer, Det. Lt. J. Crew? Will the judge throw the book at you or mail you a catalogue? Do they read you your rights or your source code?

And like all felons arrested in Chicago, Ashley instantly relocates to Alaska to waitress in a busy roadside truckstop coincidentally frequented by vacationing just-folks James Brolin and Barbra Streisand! Memories, like the corners of a meatloaf special and a bottomless cup of coffee!

Golden-throated chanteuse k.d. lang makes a rare acting appearance on the big screen, proving not only that Boys Don’t Cry, they don’t act either.

And look, there’s Genevieve Bujold, a graduate of Earthquake and Coma, who still knows how to make disasters and put audiences to sleep. She’s “Anne of the Thousand Bad Career Choices.”

Make that a thousand and one.

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