28-Aug-1999 Uncategorized

the astronaut’s wife

I went to see The Astronaut’s wife on Friday night, not knowing that New Line had refused to allow critics to review the film prior to opening night. This is usually the sign of a stinker, but I’d had a busy day and didn’t do my homework. I’d even imbibed one beer prior to coming to the theatre, so I was more than receptive to whatever movie I saw; however, I did not realize that I was going to be put through 100 minutes of the worst, most convoluted mess of a motion picture I have ever seen. And the next person that compares this to film to the subtle quality of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ should be force fed regurgitated green pea soup. As the movie opens, we are introduced to school teacher Jillian Armacost (Charlize Theron) and her astronaut husband Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp). He is supposedly such a sweet and loving husband that he’d even call his wife from the space shuttle. Big deal, I call my girlfriend from the Air Phone on the plane all the time, if he was at least on Mars or the moon, that would have been something. A few minutes after the call, Charlize comes to find out from NASA suit Sherman Reese (Joe Morton, of ‘Terminator 2’ and ‘Blues Brothers 2000’ fame) that her husband was out of contact with the shuttle for two minutes after an accidental explosion during a satellite repair spacewalk. There is nothing significant about the explosion (it really was accidental) or the fact that the exact length of being out of contact was two minutes. Please be aware that during the course of the movie, the actors use the phrases “those two minutes” and “Mrs. Armacost” over and over. If you could add the number of times those words are repeated, you’ve got 20% of the script. Counting them will at least mildly entertain you, because trust me, the movie will not (other than on the merit of bad it is). It would have made good Mystery Science 3000 fodder (had that show not been canceled this year). Later in the movie, Reese is debunked by NASA and fired (off screen, thank God). It turns out that the two astronauts were never out of contact. Our man from NASA has a tape of the whole conversation between Depp and the other astronaut during “those two minutes.” Dressed in standard “I’m Out of Work ” disheveled clothing, he stalks Charlize hoping to let her know that her husband isn’t the same man he was before “those two minutes.” How can he tell, you ask? He has hard data that shows how everything about Depp is “just a little bit different”. I was immediately reminded of how her husband could go to Europe and nobody would be able to tell he’d changed because everything there is “just a little bit different” (think ‘Pulp Fiction’). She doesn’t believe Morton after he makes his presentation of the facts. The director then comes up with one of the dumbest POV shots I have ever seen as a result of her disbelief. She destroys the audio tape of “those two minutes” that Morton provides her, and then tosses the remains into the trash. We get to see the bits and pieces of audio player fall into the can from the Trash Can Cam. I was giggling the whole time. So, Depp is supposedly a different man, although we only got to know him for the sum of five minutes before “those two minutes” happened when he was out of contact. The other astronaut Depp was with during “those two minutes” starts listening to radio static and eventually succumbs to the crazies, as does his wife. The reasons for this are never fully explained (but don’t worry, you won’t care). Theron does briefly interact with the other astronaut’s wife, but again that’s a dead end. The movie is filled with dead ends. It is also filled with pointless scenes with no redeeming reason for existing (other than to pad out the movie). Secrets surrounding how the other wife died and parallels of how the same things are now happening to Theron during the course of the movie will leave you disinterested. So what? I’m not going to spoil what parallels are drawn, but you won’t care after you find out, so I hope you can see how I am torn. For those of you boys and girls hoping to catch some skin from Theron, you will be sorely disappointed. The film contains one of most unerotic sex scenes I’ve seen in an R rated movie. There is even a weird transition during the sex scene (from one location to another) that made me think the director must have spent countless days and nights trying to come up with a cool way to do it, but he didn’t spend much time thinking how to build plot, action, or interest. The director also pulls out the stops to keep Theron’s body completely covered up. He also asks us to believe that the electricity in everyone’s house is suddenly 5 times as powerful as it really is. Depp’s character is boring and has the charisma of a used car salesman. Theron is uninspired at best, although she cries on cue which is somewhat impressive, although I kept thinking she was crying because the movie was so bad. The movie is also filled with rhetorical questions asked out loud by the actors (that go unanswered). After the tenth question, I started to answer them myself, but my reply was always, “Because the movie sucks!” Reports that the ending was re shot seem to be true because it does a full 180 degrees as it attempts to end with a “Gee, I didn’t think that was going to happen” scenario, which is laughable at best. Save your money. If you love Depp and Theron, see this at a matinee. If there is no one else in the theatre with you, feel free to talk back to the screen (it’s the least you can do to entertain yourself).