The Invasion

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/08/20

In movie history, has any actor displayed the kind of expansive range of Nicole Kidman?

She has transformed from an emotionless, mind-controlled quasi-human in The Stepford Wives into an emotionless, mind-controlled quasi-human in The Invasion.

And that’s before the acting starts.

Without a fake nose and some high-minded literary aspiration, Nicole Kidman might as well be Nicole Ritchie when it comes to acting, in case that’s what you call dialogue delivery so mousy she could play the scene on a hamster wheel.

invasion_nicole.jpgYes, it’s another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This time directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, and I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t I just order a deli sandwich by that name?”

“Look at me, it’s mommy,” Nicole says to comfort her young son, who’s lost in a nightmare. “But smudge mommy’s flawless makeup or block mommy’s face from the camera line-of-sight and you’ll be a street urchin by noon.”

And did I mention that Nicole wears jammies that would make any 10-year-old boy grow up fast?

“What, another nightmare? That’s the third one tonight!”

Nicole plays with her kid like someone who wonders where the nanny went with the housekeeper and how soon the bitches will be back. It’s not long before the boy injects Nicole in the heart, and it’s about time something was injected into her heart.

Nicole is “Carol,” her son is “Ollie,” and her ex-husband is “Tucker.” Just an average family ripped from the pages of Town & Country with all the anxiety that comes from not being able to get a table at Tavern on the Green.

Here’s to any movie that begins with an exploding space shuttle – because no matter how far you get from a real-life tragedy, it’s never too far to serve as a plot device in a mediocre popcorn flick.

invasion_pierce.jpgBut wait, the Internet is buzzing with the news that “my husband is not my husband” and “my son is not my son” and “my nose was formerly a button on a snowman in North Dakota.” Nicole’s three greatest fears!

The dogs know something’s wrong. They can smell it. That’s what comes from a lifetime of chasing your tail and sniffing other dogs’ behinds.

The immensely talented and thus barely employable Jeffrey Wright is a lab tech stuck in front of a microscope – until the climax of this movie when his experience with microbiology and Petri dishes qualify him to direct a helicopter full of commandos.

But Wright has single-handedly figured out this alien infection: “It’s reprogramming their genetic expression overnight!” It had better reprogram my genetic expression which, thanks to The Invasion, is a big frown.

The aliens infect the rest of us by regurgitating on them, thus explaining why the infection rate is highest at MTV’s The Real World.

And what makes this Invasion so frightening, you ask?

There’s nothing scarier than aliens in tailored Saville Row finery who stand around and stare at you. “These aliens are not out to kill us, just to make us self-conscious,” concludes Wright. “The world is being invaded and humanity is afraid there’s something in our teeth!”

Scary staring? But in a world where folks would kill each other for their own Reality TV deal, isn’t this exactly the goal?

Nicole hides out on a train to avoid the alien menace: “They don’t show emotion!” some guy tells her. “You’re perfectly cast!”

“What do you mean?” Nicole asked. “My nose glows red when I get alarmed.”

“That’s fine if you’re guiding Santa’s sleigh, but this is a remake of a remake of an adaptation! And the Jolly Elf never delivered alien spores to the children of Earth – although this would be a better movie if he had.”

The “change” happens when you fall asleep. Nicole has a lot of trouble staying awake – I know just how she feels. And the sleepier she gets, the more she develops cute little Prada bags under her eyes.

The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a subtle riff on Communist paranoia. This one is a subtle riff on Nicole’s impossibly even skin tone.

The most unintentionally funny Kidman line of the movie: “Her husband’s infected with an alien virus, and I prescribe an anti-psychotic!”

The Invasion is atmospheric – and by “atmospheric,” I mean “dull.” The first hour is the longest hour of my life.

Or so I thought until hour two.

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