The Four Feathers

By Mark Ramsey | 2002/09/24

The Four Feathers is a rotten title for a movie unless three feathers come with stooges.

When you hear Kate Hudson’s in a movie called The Four Feathers, visions of arty tickling scenes spring to mind. And by “mind” I mean anywhere but in the actual movie.

The Four Feathers opens on Kate, who unfortunately isn’t wearing them as a boa. Nope. She’s admiring the jocks. Just as hot girls have since the beginning of time. This is why some of us are popular in high school, and the rest of us review movies.

You learn a lot about history in The Four Feathers. For example, long before Rugby was a shirt at J. Crew, it was actually a sport!

fourfeathers_heath.jpgHere it is, that most familiar of contemporary audience-baits, the epic love triangle. Is it an British colonial Titanic? Pearl Harbor on camels? It is all of this – and less.

Will Kate choose Heath Ledger or Wes Bentley? Well, Heath is cute and cowardly, and Wes is brave but blind. After going blind, Wes fondles Heath’s head. What’s he feeling for? A secret compartment? An ejection button? I think Wes was confused! He kept punching 9-1-1 into Heath’s zits and shouting “hello???”

Kate may be the object of every guy’s affection in this movie, but Miss Kate is horribly miscast. Of all the Kates, why this one? Why not Kate Beckinsale, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, even Kato Kaelin? Why Kate Hudson in a period British costume drama? It doesn’t make sense – unless the army’s marching band has a lead singer. This time out, the band-aid needs bland-aid.

Evidently, the Brits are attempting to colonize the planet Tatooine! Heath is thrust deep into the desert, where he’s aided by some unusually benevolent Tusken Raiders and Jawas. There he disguises himself as a remarkably unconvincing Arab – one whose makeup changes shades so often, I felt like I was picking paint swatches at Home Depot. Does Heath come in semi-gloss or just flat?

War training is a genteel art for the Brits. There they are, imperious on horseback in all their finery. They’re stabbing sandbags – the only foe that fights back like Paula Jones on Celebrity Boxing.

fourfeathers_rugby.jpgThings turn regrettably sour once the Brits meet the infidels deep in the desert. The hapless Brit commander orders his troops to form a square – which turns out to be a rectangle! Right there, it’s time to issue body bags and crawl inside while you still bloody well can. If you can’t make a square, you don’t deserve to conquer a nation.

There’s a great performance here by West African actor and Amistad vet Djimon Hounsou. If a flick has a whipping, his career will keep ticking, I’m sorry to say.

The Four Feathers desperately wants to be important, and no doubt it looked good on paper. But some paper’s meant for the big screen, some is meant for wiping your ass.

Evidently, four feathers make a turkey – less feathered than feather-brained.

Photos Copyright ©2002 Paramount Pictures


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