By Mark Ramsey | 2005/11/14

If Derailed were a Jeopardy answer, the question would be: “What happens to a star between the last episode of Friends and an unlikely movie career, Alex?”

No one is more famous for being famously divorced than Jennifer Aniston, but not even a bad marriage and ugly divorce can help us stomach as bad and ugly a movie as Derailed.

“The morning it all began began like any other morning.” Those are the first words in this flick. And they mean this movie began like any other movie. Or, more accurately,derailed_evidentlyitscold.jpg

every other movie.

I don’t really need a movie to tell me the day begins like any other day because virtually every day begins like every other day except for the one that begins with this movie and ends with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Derailed is another of those movies trying vainly to surprise you at every turn, but in this case you will anticipate the key twist so early you can almost see it from your driveway before you leave the house.

In fact, Jennifer Aniston told Entertainment Weekly her friend (and I suspect there’s only one) figured it out from the trailer. I don’t know what’s worse. That you can figure out the twist from the trailer or that Jennifer Aniston told you this in Entertainment Weekly before the movie opened! As Brad Pitt reportedly said, “I don’t pick ‘em because they’re smarter than me.”

Derailed marks the inauspicious debut of the Weinstein Company, formed after Bob and Harvey Weinstein split from Disney’s Miramax.

“We were going to merge our names and call it either ‘Barvey’ or ‘Hob’ but it turns out no one will lend money to a company called ‘Hob,’ and ‘Barvey’ makes us sound like we’re dating Malibu Ken – which would be fine if his strangely compelling rugged features came with a hundred million dollars in financing’” explained Harvey.

Added brother Bob: “We have a new production strategy: No more top-drawer content for us! Our motto is ‘Butts in seats, not Oscars on shelves.’”


With all due respect to the Weinstein Company, Derailed is not the kind of company the Weinsteins should be keeping. As it happens, the only asses in seats here are the ones whose pockets got picked at the door.

So Clive Owen randomly meets Jennifer Aniston on a train, where she pays for his ticket. “I’m a commercial executive,” he tells her, ignoring the fact that his discipline as been called “advertising” since the 1920′s.

Back at work, Clive becomes obsessed with Aniston because, well, something about her hairstyle is more potent than the threat of international war and famine. In fact, if the U.S. military could only enlist Aniston’s hairstyle the world would surely sign treaties to avoid its proliferation and lock it in a silo in the Nevada desert.

Clive and Jennifer take extramarital refuge in a dingy by-the-hour hotel when, from out of the blue, they’re attacked by a hood named LaRoche.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I worry about when I check into a scurvy slum-land hotel is that I’ll be mugged by an effete Frenchman.

“Oh my God, I hope there are no effete French muggers about these premises! You can’t go anywhere nowadays without the risk of being robbed at gunpoint by the French! Who doesn’t worry about being alone in the wrong part of Chicago late and night and vulnerable – to an assailant with a gun in one hand and a baguette in the other? How do you say ‘stick ‘em up’ when an unfiltered cigarette is dangling from your lip? Does it shame you to take my money when you know you’re better than me?”

In fact, Clive is about twice the size of his French nemesis and could most likely fold him into a croissant if he so desired.

De Gaulle of it all.

Clive befriends the mailroom guy at work, played by rapper “The RZA” who proves that adding a hip hopper to the marquee is more important to the marketing of a major motion picture than an acting skill not seen since the high school chorus of Hello Dolly. Where’s that Actor’s Studio class in verse and bling? WHERE IS IT!?

Ultimately Clive realizes he’s the mark in an elaborate scam so convoluted, you wonder why the perpetrators didn’t simply take the easy way out and hold up a bank.

If Bob and Harvey want to earn a buck on movies like Derailed, they’d better start planning that bank heist now.

Photos Copyright ©2005 The Weinstein Company

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