"Take off your clothes, leave your clothes on, get in the pool man. And look. This is what's happening."
-From The Noble Noises of Huckism, Vol 1.
Being a child who was raised on bootleg tapes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I have a love-love relationship with horrible movies- the ones that shoot for the stars and usually end up in the muck. Crafted unironically, but with a blissful unawareness of their utter failure to get across their intended message, they are alternately joys and terrors to behold.
Yesterday, I chanced upon a movie which was was a personal project much like Tommy Wiseau's now-legendary "The Room", but a decade earlier. A masterpiece of ambition outstripping resource, it is worth watching once--and probably only once--just to say you did, and to witness a the trainwreck of a (generally) competent idea felled by questionable directorial and narrative choices.
So, without further ado, let's get stuck in. (By the way I had to watch this twice in 24 hours to get the material for this review. Never let it be said I don't do things for you, dear reader.)
I begin at the end, for a moment, to bring some clarity into these things, with a look at the end credits.
Either there's a family out there that's a) incredibly prolific and b) has an inordinate love of the name "John", or b) we are dealing with the product of one man's mind-- a ship planned, built, captained and steered by one JOHN DE HART, (so capitalised in recognition of his enormous contribution to the body of work we are about to examine--and who, by virtue of his position, gets to examine a body or two himself~)
This movie has many names. Properly, it is called "Road to Revenge", but its actual title is "Get Even." However, the artistic vision of JOHN DE HART does not allow for the concept of typographical kerning, so the finished title card reads as "GETEVEN", which is how, apparently, most of the people who are fans of this film refer to it. It is also the convention I will follow.
We open with a montage of scenes from Hollywood, California that suspiciously look like they were filmed by someone sticking a camera out of the side of a car (for that gritty, "real" look-- or let's be honest, because someone was probably filming this guerilla-style on the cheap.) Were this done today, I've no doubt it would be someone using a mobile to get their shots (which can actually work given the quality of mobile cameras now.)
Above this cascade of footage that screams "you now walk the streets of Hollywood with us", there is a custom soundtrack that best resembles the effect one achieves if they activate one of the pre-set loops on a Casio keyboard and then induce their cat to strut across the keys to to add flavour. It is bland, underwhelming and appropriately lowers expectations.
Enjoy this glimpse of Hollywood, gentle reader, for while it's made clear several times in the film that this is where the story takes place, these urban sights will never be seen again within it.
And when I say "glimpse", what I really mean is "a solid two minutes". Yes, the opening credits spend that much time showing you a fancy city of lights you're NOT going to get, finally transitioning from the bright lights of Hollywood to a trailer out in the middle of nowhere.
In the hands of a competent auteur, this could be clearly established as symbolic, to indicate that we are moving beyond the façade of the bright, prosperous city to the seedy underbelly of society that lurks within. Unfortunately in this case, it just reads like the budget completely ran out and JOHN DE HART had to make do.
Things really begin with a focus on three policemen clustered together in a field behind the trailer. Perhaps echoing the hopes of the filmmaker, the first line uttered by the copper in the center is "Hehehe, this is gonna be a good'un. I can feel it."
Whether or not the film lives up to that premise is wholly dependent upon your predilection for poorly-executed cinema.
In what is perhaps the ONLY example we get in this film of competent narrative shorthand, we quickly see that each of these policemen is a readily identifiable trope.
The one on the left says he'd feel a lot better if they had a warrant. Thus we know he is a cop who PLAYS BY THE RULES. The one on the right has his tactical cap on backwards and is picking his nose or something and cracking wise. Thus we have the ROUGISH PARTNER COP WITH A HEART OF GOLD, and finally the one in the middle is totally fine with an illegal raid, so we know he is the QUESTIONABLE, PROBABLY BAD COP.
Not bad. All this was set up in about twenty seconds. If this kind of shorthand could have been maintained, things might have ended up a lot better. Unfortunately, as will be come to see, subsequent characters just happen to be there with not even tropes to flesh them out. And even these just-established tropes will be insufficent to keep things palatable.
We find out the cop who PLAYS BY THE RULES is named Brodie. The ROUGISH PARTNER COP with a heart of gold is named Finney. Brodie and Finney, eh? I wonder if the one in the middle will have a similarly rhyming surname. (Spoiler: No. But what he does have is amazingly horrifying.)
So the QUESTIONABLE, PROBABLY BAD COP in the middle, (still unnamed), sends the two cops off to the sides of this trailer whilst calmly hanging back far, far away. This is totally normal tactical behaviour and will end well for everyone. I can see it now.
In the trailer, a smarmy-looking man flicks open a switchblade, to the giggling delight of his female companion. Giggling, because nothing says "good times" like a stainless steel shiv.
He then uses this blade to apportion a probably lethal dosage of cocaine from a small bag, dispensing treats to his friends like a kind of criminal Father Christmas. Because who needs things like spoons in the criminal underworld?
Seeing this scene unfold, Brodie venomously blurts out "son of a bitch, that Normad was right!"
Normad? NORMAD? Yes. It turns out QUESTIONABLE, PROBABLY BAD COP is named "NORMAD". Not NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NOMAD, the space-probe that thought Captain James T. Kirk was its creator, but NORMAD. Sort of like the lovable drunk Norm from Cheers, but who is angry all the time. Norm-mad. And we never do get a first name. So, for all time, he is NORMAD.
NORMAD. A perfectly cromulent name.
So I have to ask, is Brodie angry here, blurting "son of a bitch, that Normad was right!" because a) his boss was actually right about the drug deal, b) the drug users are BREAKING THE SACRED LAW, or c) he actually had to say the word "Normad" with a straight face? You decide.
By the way, Brodie there of the "if I shout it it must be acting" school of dramatic performance is none other than JOHN DE HART, writer, director, song composer, song performer and main star of this film. Bear that in mind for later.
Moving along, PROBABLY BAD COP NORMAD, from his courageous position in the rear, yells to the criminals the trailer is surrounded, the notion of which, to the credit of the film, even the cops via Finney laugh at.
He requests that the criminals come out of the trailer with their hands above their heads, but because AMERICA, the response is guns. Lots of guns. And shooting. And ostensibly, excitement.
I say "ostensibly" because there is an an orgy of almost bloodless killing here, despite the sea of bullets whizzing through the air. ROUGISH PARTNER COP Finney gets gutshot, and doubles over in pain, to which his PROBABLY BAD COP NORMAD screams, over a series of three separate takes, "Hold your position, Finney! Hold your position!"
He is holding his position, asshole. Writhing half-dead on the ground.
As GOOD COP PLAYS BY THE RULES Brodie admonishes increasingly-looking-like-GENUINE BAD COP NORMAD about this raid, he demands "What the hell's your problem, Normad? You almost got Huck killed!". Well number one, NORMAD's problem is he's fucking named Normad. Number two is, that unless this is a nickname, ROUGISH PARTNER COP Finney is actually named Huck Finney.
As in, you know, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
And believe me, if Samuel Clemens could see what his character's namesake gets up to in this film, he'd probably pray for Halley's Comet to come round on an expedited schedule so he could taste the sweet embrace of death that much sooner.
VERY PROBABLY BAD COP NORMAD replied that if Finney dies the whole world would be a done a favour, causing Brodie to knee him in the stomach. Dropped to the ground, NORMAD, in his menacingly overly-large 1980's glasses, declares that Brodie just made a "big mistake". The mistake, dear NORMAD, lieth not in the stars or Brodie, but in your own unfortunate fashion choices.
Brodie confidently replies this is not a problem. (As we will see through the course of this film, the milquetoast "not a problem" is supposed to be akin to The Terminator's "I'll be back". That tells you all you need to know about the ambition on display here.) We then cut to a flashback of him wearing a martial arts gi, thus surely instantly establishing his bona fides as a legitimate bad-ass. Surely.
For the next minute or so, we are treated to a montage of him striking punching bags with such a mighty inner power that soft love-taps of sound can be heard. Not for your ears, dear reader, the bone-crunching snaps and slaps of Shaw Bros. Martial arts film from the 70's. Oh no. Just soft, wet, soppy kisses of fists weakly tapping sandbags. So quiet it's almost meditative.
fists moving foward
punching bag, quivering not
Brodie then proceeds to perform some martial arts kata with a stunned, confused look on his face. Probably the same look I'm sporting right now as I watch this cinematic abomination. (By the way, this is the same look he has whenever he's trying to be angry / heroic, so picture that whenever I describe a fight--which for a movie supposedly about a martial-arts ex-cop, won't actually be that much.)
Oh, did I say "ex-cop?" We'll get there. But first, let's meet...
...His pet? ...His sensei? I am confused. I want to know more about the inner life of this unexplained kung-fu animal.
Such a good doggie. Is it like master splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? (Such tutelage might explain why the rest of this movie is such a dog.)
A year later, now verified BAD COP NORMAD, dressed up like a stereotypical drug dealer, gets Brodie and Huck kicked off the force by claiming they were doing drugs.
What follows is some of the best community theatre scene chewing from the supporting cast as the internal affairs cop admonishes Finney to "SIT. DOWN! or I willl REMOVE! YOU! FROM. THIS. HEARING!
BAD COP NORMAD demonstrates the use of "Surveillance Binoculars" and takes a few moments to explain to the audience in excruciating detail how one may use the back of a matchbook to fashion a small straw which can then be used to inhale cocaine.
Finney is outraged by the horribly mundane acting (though to be fair that's a really realistic depiction of how banal actual hearing procedures are) and loses his temper, being forcibly ejected from the chamber.
We CUT now to an indeterminate time later. To further endear us to our main character, we are reminded of how patriotic he is via 90's fashion. They affirm their friendhip by affectionately calling each other "son of a bitch." America, amirite?
We get a quick infodump as to how the two buddy cops are now working for someone named "Lainey". Finney (who like everyone else, just I am just going to call "Huck" from now on) is annoyed that Brodie is getting all the jobs from Lainey because Brodie is going to be "A husband to her daughter." (masterful phraseology, that.) We also find out Brodie's first name is Rick. Rick Brodie and Huck Finney. So much Rhyming. Poor NORMAD never gets to join in on that.
The Naturalistic dialogue here is so raw it hurts.
Rick gets in Huck's face and angrily retorts "maybe you forgot, but WE broke up." He means himself and Lainey's daughter, obviously, but the way he delivers the line and the way he was looking at Huck makes it sound like _he and Huck broke up_, which I think would have made for a far more interesting dynamic. But this is 1993 America. Same-sex couples don't exist unless they're lesbians. Especially in "action" movies. ("Action" in quotes because, despite its aspirations, GETEVEN never gets there. "Gets" there. Get it?)
The next scene shows us what Rick's actual job is-- he's a limousine driver. We watch as, accompanied by the strains of upbeat honky-tonk music, he proceeds to just casually ditch some misbehaving kids (who presumably have had their trip paid for by someone) on the side of the road when they ask to take a piss break.
So basically, in short, he leaves four inebriated minors behind in the bushes in the dead of night to fend for themselves. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen. This is the first time I began to realise the narrative shorthand so elegantly set up in the trailer scene was just going to be pissed away for whatever "characterisation" this stuff is.
We then see Huck, for his part, living in an apartment with a mannequin of a Native American named "Sam", with no other explanation given. The sad thing is, people, this bit of surrealism (?) aside, the movie still (and will) make more sense than The Room, to its ultimate detriment.
CUT to "Cowboy Night". We are introduced to Rick's ex-girlfriend and her mother, who run a bar. I had to watch this movie twice to catch that the ex's name was Cindy. (It was dropped exactly once in this scene very quickly, and then not mentioned again for ages to the point where I actually wrote the rest of this thinking she hadn't been named. The men, by contrast, get their names said all the time despite the ex actually being pretty relevant and present in a lot of scenes going forward. There's an underlying pattern to this that I dig into later.)
Given the looks of the actress playing the ex-girlfriend, if there isn't some kind of an erotic scene between her and JOHN DE HART before this film is over I will be surprised. Solo vanity projects and couch-style casting tend to go hand in hand. (Don't bet against me on this.)
The dialogue in this movie so far is delivered by almost everyone in a stiff, forced manner, as if they are reading from cue cards or a prompter. The only shining counter to this is Huck, who actually ACTS the hell out of this movie. (The reason why, as I found out later, is that Huck's player, Wings Hauser, is a VERY accomplished actor who has been doing this since he was a child and is still working today. He's one of those "I know his face but not the name" actors.) His performance steals the show and he does the absolute best with what he is given.
Because of the script that JOHN DE HART wrote, Rick (JOHN DE HART) is invited up to sing a song that JOHN DE HART wrote.
Acting? Directing? Kung-Fu fighting? Singing? is there no limit to the talents of JOHN DE HART?
Let us find out.
For the next few minutes a bespoke song is delivered in faux-Elvis tones. You can enjoy it here:
During the course of this song, some nasties appear in the bar, cornering Rick's ex-girlfriend, describing her as "The coven bitch."
Wait, what? Coven? Did this turn into an episode of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? What is this movie becoming?
This question becomes even more salient when, right after this musical set, a stripper appears and gets right down to business with no foreplay. (nb: This is not a strip club, just a regular bar.)
EVEN MORE BIZARRELY Rick and his ex-girlfriend are watching the topless dancer enthusiastically as his ex-girlfriend's MUM saunters up, asking, "fun, huh?"
YES, THIS IS QUALITY FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT IF YOU ARE HUGH HEFNER.
Rick literally says, in front of his ex, who he is obviously trying to make a "not-ex" that the dancer is "putting on a good show". We know this is a fictional setting now because she has not kicked him in the scrotum for saying this whilst she is standing RIGHT THERE.
Life rolls on. We have someone who looks too young to even be in a bar calling the police because there is "public nudity" happening in the establishment, probably as a send-up on people possessing prudish proclivities.
...I wish the police could have stopped this movie from happening.
As Rick and his putative ex continue to giggle and ogle the topless dancer, the scuzzy men from before try to attack the girl, and Rick beats them off. Yes, that was a horrible double entendre, but given how this movie was going, it was not a concept out of the realm of possibility.
The slowest, stiffest, most poorly choreographed fight scene in cinematic history (to this point in the movie) ensues, with Rick delivering his trademark catchphrase "not a problem!" when someone asks if he's willing to be beat up.
It's not a cool look, Rick. Please stop doing it. (Spoiler: He won't.)
Huck helps out in the fight and for his trouble gets arrested by the police as he's a little "too enthusiastic" with his assistance.
We are now mercifully 20 minutes in and the gang needs to bail Huck out of jail. Also mercifully we find out his real first name is Henry. So, Henry Finney. What an inspired naming choice.
We are treated to a ponderous three minute scene (despite what seems to be an attempt to move things along) of paperwork filing in which paperwork is not really filled out for a sketchy looking bail bondsman named Moe, in a scene that screams either "I cast one of my friends to be in this movie, enjoy him" or "this bloke backed my project so here have a look at his mug".
One of Moe's [too] many lines is "wow he's been in this shithole for five hours, huh?" 20 minutes in and I too feel like I've been in a shithole for five hours. Mind you, we are TWENTY minutes in and we are not really sure what is driving the plot other than the initial betrayal of BAD COP NORMAD, which seems to have been gotten over fairly quickly.
Moe completes the scene by making a misogynist joke in front of a woman, who is totally fine with it (because the script demands it), after which he vanishes never to be seen again. Rick informs us all that Huck is just going through some "changes" because of the stress his wife is putting him through.
The overall scene ends with [Our Hero] Rick giving the desk officer a quarter and telling him to "buy himself a personalty." This fails on so many levels. Why?
Firstly, Rick, as an ex-cop, should have some sympathy for the desk jockey officer who is just doing his job, and secondly, metafictionally, Rick's ACTOR, the WRITER-DIRECTOR, failed to give this cop any personality, and so this is HIS fault.
RICK [JOHN DE HART] literally MADE HIM THIS WAY and is blaming him for operating as intended.
CUT to a restaurant where the sound of a single water fountain is foleyed in so loudly it feels like the cast is in a rainshower... then the sound just VANISHES, because the highest level of care was given to production here.
We get to watch Rick vigorously masticating as he stares at his (increasingly less)-ex, who still hasn't been called by name a second time.
We then burn more time while Rick tells two unfunny jokes badly. Is he going for some kind of cinema vérité about the life of a banal white man? That would make the most sense here.
The forced laughter and fake compliment from the waiter that he gives the couple is actually the realest the film has been thus far. The waiter actually makes an excuse to get away from them. It's splendid, and probably wholly unintentional quality.
EVEN MORE TIME is killed with the now obvious couple gawking at how good they look in Polaroid taken of them by a passing minstrel. Correct me if I'm wrong but... aren't they holding it backwards? Which means they are looking at a blank space and complimenting it profusely. Blank, like their acting. Like my soul right now.
...Christ, I'm only 25 minutes in.
So at 25 minutes, let's take stock. We know Rick + Huck were kicked off the force by BAD COP NORMAD, who seems to have vanished. We know Rick is reconciling with his ex who is some kind of "coven bitch" who likes to ogle strippers in the company of her mum and ex. That's it.
Oh and Huck is shacked up with a Native American mannequin. Mustn't forget that.
Next scene. Rick is enjoying the perks of being Main star, Director, and presumably casting director. If there's not a love scene coming I will delete my account. (Spoiler: My account is mercifully non-deleted.)
Oh dear. Lore just dropped. Rick's girlfriend's backstory as a "Coven bitch" is revealed. She drifted into a bad crowd of Poundland Satanists who literally stand around chanting "we love you Satan" in dead, souless tones.
Oi is that fellow on the left dual-wielding candles WWE's Seth Rollins?
...NORMAD?! Is that you, mate? Fancy meeting you here, as the head of a coven, no less! ...Mate can you teach me how to do that eyeliner you have it DOWN.
So backstory goes on to explain that the reason Rick's girlfriend was banished from the coven was that, because she freaked out upon discovering that they intended to sacrifce a baby to Satan, they determined that "there was something wrong" with her, and, quoting directly, "bitch isn't good enough to follow Satan."
...nice to know Satan has quality standards for membership in his exclusive club.
Yeah I feel the same way about being near this film, sister.
Angrily, NORMAD, BAD COP who has, Pokemon-like, evolved into a HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN screams out "Can we continue?!" And yet again I am emotionally in alignment with the sentiments expressed onscreen.
(baby pleads for death to GTFO this movie)
This will not last, however, as flashback over, the girlfriend laments "they sacrificed a human baby" (as opposed to what other kind of baby?) and the coven members now want her dead because she knows too much.
In a metafictional moment, the unnamed girlfriend asks Rick if he still wants to be an actor (JOHN DE HART is already living the dream, baby!) and Rick takes an few moments to literally stop and recite Shakespeare, just to show THE AMAZING RANGE OF JOHN DE HART.
Enjoy it here.
And, thirty minutes in as predicted, we have a love scene where JOHN DE HART reaps the benefits of being Actor / Director / Producer. It is accompanied with a duet performed and written by JOHN DE HART, because of course it is.
This being the 90s, JOHN DE HART also tries to capture the electric eroticism of "9 1/2 Weeks" via strategic deployment of an ice cube to nippleflesh.
...Except it looks like he's grinding a lemon over one of those juicer things.
This also proves my Twitter handle wrong. Sometimes, Rule 34 does NOT rock.
CUT to the bar where Rick tells Huck that he's getting married and moving out of their shared flat. Huck goes all crazy drunk here, and while the script is horrible, he does a VERY convincing angry drunk impression, no sarcasm intended. If he's not legitimately pissed in this scene, he deserves an award for pulling off the impression.
Of course, through all this, Huck is being a complete ass to everyone in the bar. Mind you, Rick "I strand kids on the side of the road" and Huck "I am a loose cannon drunk who is picking on innocent bystanders" are the GOOD GUYS here. We are supposed to ROOT for them. I suppose that's why NORMAD, HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN HIMSELF was set up to be the bad guy. You'd need a foil that big to make this duo likable.
Actual Quote from Huck: "My buddy here knows how to talk Hamlet. He knows the lines."
He knows the lines. Epic film-making, friends. Epic stuff.
This is followed up by "MY BUDDY HERE. CAN SPEAK! HAMLET!"
How do you come back from that verbal savagery?
Here, Wings Hauser here looks like a cross between Michael Madsen, David Hasselhoff, and Joe O'Connor (the dad from Clarissa Explains it All). He is legitimately the best actor in this film. I am officially a fan.
The scene continues with Huck revealing that his wife has been cheating on him, and expressing his belief she'll do so with anyone including Rick, doubling down on a string of misogynistic references in this film that's going to get even uglier shortly. Drunk off his arse, he actually has the sense to ask Rick for a ride home, but Rick tells him to walk. OUR HERO, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Let the drunk man who is your best friend wander his way home.
So Huck gets home, and unsupervised, decides to use his gun like a tool ala Homer Simpson, using it to shred bills by shooting through them. Amusingly somehow, the gun fails to fire about 75% of the time. Nothing is well for this man.
Given that most American homes are made out of flimsy drywall, he probably has killed a good number of his neighbours shooting through his bills. OUR HEROES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
This is the inside of the rest of Huck's apartment. I'm sure there is symbolism here, but I really don't feel like unpacking it. Perhaps the blank TV symbolises the lack of connection with the outside world, and the emptiness of the apartment symbolises Huck's inner void? Or it just shows he's penniless and can't afford the cable bill. Who knows.
Next, in an ugly scene, we see his wife show up demanding alimony. He has no money to pay, and because women are beasts, she rips up her own top and calls the police, accusing him of domestic violence against her. The police arrest Huck, and the movie continues its trend of treating women as either unnamed sex objects or cruel bitches.
...Oh, forgot to mention, we find out she's been cheating on him with HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DIRTY COP NORMAD... who, it turns out, is now a judge.
NORMAD has evolved into JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN NORMAD [final form]
No, wait, wait, missed one. Apparently he is also a DRUG DEALER as per Huck.
So it's JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD in his final form.
As Rick is dragged away by the cops he grants the world the present of a whole new swear-phrase: "you son of a bitches!"
We are then treated to scenes of DRUG DEALER NORMAD being abusive to Rick's ex. Karma or misogny? ¿Por qué no los dos?
So when Rick gets to court... he finds himself facing... you guessed it--
NORMAD (JUDGE FORM)
The trial goes about as well as one might expect. Curses are hurled, contempt is charged, bail is revoked and Huck's in the hole.
My god I'm only halfway in now. (That's what he said?) And we still aren't quite sure what GETEVEN stands for. Was it for being sacked from the force? Doubtful. Rick and Huck seem to have moved on. Has NORMAD even really done anything more to them? Yes, he sent Huck to jail but Huck's act in the courtroom would have justified it, NORMAD or no.
What started off using effective shorthand tropes has just become mired in a sea of connected, but still unfocused vignettes about human dysfunctionalty.
Anyway, moving on, an incensed Rick, who has been watching the trial from the stands, leaves the courtroom declaring that JUDGE NORMAD can't hear the case, and tracks down the District Attorney, beginning case negotiations with the always-effective opener of "Listen, you polyester puppet!"
Some of these lines are legendary.
Huck does Yoga--or something in the jail cell--then in what would be a traumatic, horrifying emotional capstone of a scene in any movie, has had enough of things, grabs a bottle of bleach from a janitor's cart, and chugs....
...but this is GETEVEN, so Rick and named-only-once rick's-ex-wife joke with Huck in the hospital about having done "that bleach thing."
That bleach thing. He bloody tried to commit suicide. Unless it was just a clever plan to get out of the cell and into the hospital which nets him... what exactly? It's not made clear.
Oh! Ex-wife had had her name spoken again at last! Cindy! What's it been, 40-50 minutes since it was last said?
Also, there was a strange scene just prior to this where a nun comes in to check on Huck and she almost breaks out laughing for some reason, and Huck calls her an odd nun. I'm not sure if the actress was just corpsing there, or if there was some subplot concerning there that was cut out, but it's very jarring in the flow.)
The movie now shifts to Rick and Cindy going to Cindy's house to collect her clothes from her parents, who are turned-up-to-11 evangelicals. They throw two boxes of clothes at her and slam the door in her face. Because just about everyone in this movie (except Cindy so far) is an asshole in some fashion.
"Who are you? Another drug-contaminated devil worshipper from Hollywood?" asks Cindy's father.
...In all fairness I can see someone being tired of having to associate with that lot.
Their conversation ends with her father telling her "If you keep living like the guttersnipe you've turned into, you'll be found dead on the side of the road some day."
Truly he is the epitome of grace and charm.
So they clamber into Rick's jeep, which Rick momentarily seems to forget how to drive, and they head home. Along the way, they discuss Life, The Huck and Everything, coming to the conclusion that Huck is "undergoing some changes", a phrase that seems to pop up a lot in the film when it comes to Huck. Is this their way of establishing a throughline for him? Show, not tell, movie. Show, not tell.
Crucially (for whatever little of the plot there is), Cindy hears the name NORMAD when Rick is talking about Huck's past, and she starts to think back... she's heard the name somewhere before.
This is presumably leading up to his revelation as JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD [final form], but unfortunately for what could have been a rewarding piece of suspense, the film has already let us get an excellent view of his gob in HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN FORM so there's no shock at all, unless one was sleeping during the sequence, which, given this movie--let's be honest--is a distinct possibility.
Speaking of NORMAD, when we next see him, he is at home in NORMAL FORM, entertaining two of his lackeys, whom he chastises for not dressing up so as to blend in with the Hollywood elite.
Well, if you're going to pay your minions minimum wage, they'll tend to show up scars and all, mate.
The lackeys mention running into Cindy, and he instructs them to kill her and "be very sure she's eliminated before the next coven meeting". (You'll see why I bring up this turn of phrase in a bit.)
Again, this blows so much suspense. If they had been talking to the HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN NORMAD with NORMAD's face hidden, they could have saved the shock of a big reveal for later, but alas, they did not.
Next we are treated to a fairly long love scene between Cindy and Rick in a tub, again set to the crooning faux-Elvis tones of JOHN DE HART, who is certainly getting his money's worth here.
...I really have to wonder how much he had to pay to make this happen.
...it had to have been a lot.
...I feel badly for anyone who walked into this thinking it would be their big break into the bigtime. (Reading IMDB this actress was a former Playboy centerfold, so he knew what he was looking for.)
...I really hope she demanded a lot of money for this.
After this interminable soap-covered scene, we cut to Huck, who is now standing knee-deep in a pool, apparently alone, next to a sign that says "Huck's Haven." The Native American mannequin is there too, because of course he is.
This looks at first blush like a clever juxtaposition between Rick, for whom he now has a cozy lover in a hot tub, and Huck, who is similarly immersed, but alone with his inanimate friend.
...I really need to stop trying to find higher meanings into things.
So at an HOUR in, let's pause to take stock for a moment. Thanks to an extremely decompressed form of storytelling, we now have the dynamics set up somewhat two thirds in. Clearly NORMAD is going to do something to make Rick / Huck "GETEVEN" with him. Given that Cindy and Rick are about to get married, and this an ever-increasingly misogynistic flick, I think we can all guess what is going to happen soon. Cindy is likely not long for this world, which will in turn create a causus belli.
So back to Huck, who for a lot of this scene seems to have been talking to himself and the mannequin at poolside. But then he beckons, and suddenly, out of nowhere:
..Women. (I know some blokes who wish they had that power.) So much for my symbolism theory. Who are these women? Whose pool is this? Why can Huck just wade in it? What is the deal with the mannequin? WILL WE EVER KNOW? (Answer: No.)
Huck has formed a new religion called "Huckism" based on Huckleberry Huck, who has "the courage to go UPRIVER, not DOWNRIVER." He states that "Huckleberry Huck is beyond Moses leading the Isray-li-alights outta what--wherever they came from to the promised land."
Yeah. This movie just went full arthouse. Or its idea of what arthouse is, at any rate.
Rick sensibly ignores him, declaring "We're getting married Sunday. Be there." and making Huck his best man by commandment.
(Shot of someone's house probably taken from a car window. Let's pretend this is where wedding is happen.)
So Huck shows up a the wedding blasted out of his mind, swaying and looking off into the middle distance, Cindy is dressed appropriately and Rick is... wearing something, I guess.
Seriously, who dresses like that FOR THEIR OWN WEDDING.
We cut to a shot of two helicopters after mating for some reason.
John De Hart gets his money's worth with another titillating take of pre-tantric theatrics.
...I really hope the actress demanded a good payday for letting him get these scenes.
And, of course, as the fireworks start, another patented JOHN DE HART power ballad sung by JOHN DE HART and written by JOHN DE HART plays as the studly middle-aged Rick played by JOHN DE HART gets off with a hot blonde hired by JOHN DE HART performing the script written by JOHN DE HART with actions directed by JOHN DE HART.
Mercifully, we cut away from JOHN DE HART to the bar, where the Satanic Skeevies, looking for Cindy, confront a female bartender who is in the bar all alone. Unmercifully, the misogny in the movie rears its head again as the inevitable 90's trope happens and they seek to "mix business with pleasure". Thankfully this wasn't lingered on and
We CUT to the bedroom of Rick And Cindy, now one hour and eight minutes into a 90 minute film. Finally, at 68 minutes in, she sees a picture of NORMAD back in his BAD COP form and makes the connection with his HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN form.
(Left: Acting. Right: A shocking simulation of Acting.) This COULD have been a titanic, impactful moment. A very dramatic reveal. But, as noted previously, the filmmakers spoiled the audience twice on it, obliterating its narrative weight. Aptly, and sadly appropriately, Rick--who should be floored by this stunning announcement that ties the whole plot together--reacts as the audience does with a loud, mildly-surprised "...REALLY?", uttered in much the same way one might in response to an altogether higher-than-expected dental bill.
Husband and wife both decide to head out on a bike to go to the police with this info, safety helmets in hand.
...Which Cindy proceeds to then not wear. Why doesn't SHE get a helmet? Someone could get seriously hurt! It's almost like the film WANTS her to get hurt! Like it needs to!
The skeevy Satanists, who have found them, give chase in their BMW, which despite being a car, can't seem to catch their motorcycle in the world's slowest low-speed chase ever.
Wait now she has the helmet on? When did she have a chance to put it on?
As the "chase" continues, the "soundtrack" morphs into the Cat-on-a-Casio-Keyboard version from the opening of the film. it is low intensity, low energy, low interest. When the vehicles do speed up, the music doesn't, killing any momentum that might have been built.
Then... OFFSCREEN... without the car being involved AT ALL, we hear the sound of tires screeching.
Something bad has happened, hasn't it. It's okay. You can tell me. (Yes, it's called this entire movie.)
The Satanists partially get out of their car:
They look off into the distance and see Cindy prone on the ground with a head wound. Wait.
(Where did her helmet go? Oh, nevermind.)
Without getting ANY Closer, the leader of the Satanic Squad, Scar, definitively declares "we got her", and they just leave, completely forgetting the commandment of HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN NORMAD who explicitly told them to "make sure."
Luckily for them, it looks like she really IS dead.
And with that, kind readers, we now have a motive for GETEVEN. One hour and twelve minutes into a One hour and twenty-nine minute movie, credits included.
So, movie, it's just you and me and a quarter of an hour ♥. Are you going to come at me hot and heavy with some satisfying cinematic action, leaving me panting for more~?
Will Kung-Fu Chauffeur Rick, who studied under Master Poodle and his wacky sidekick "Huck" Finney who is reborn with the power of Samuel Clemens' religion be BAD ENOUGH to take down JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD in his FINAL FORM?
Let's find out in the last quarter of GETEVEN!
...Well, before all that we find out that asshole Rick dressed better for his wife's funeral than he did for her wedding. And Huck is still staring into space.
And, an ass to the end, Cindy's father said "I told her something like this was going to happen."
(...To be fair, he called it exactly. She died on the side of the road just like he said, almost like some omnipotent JOHN DE HART had written it thus. But there was no need to be an ass about it. Let your dead child get the last word. Ass.)
At 1:13:00 Rick says, "I'll Get Even for ya, Cindy." Ladies and gentlemen, we have a title. Yeah. Foreplay is over. It's time for the confrontational consummation to commence~!
It begins with Rick actually legitimately punching a punching bag. (Whatever happened to his dojo and poodle-sensei? Is he a ronin--a masterless samurai-- now?)
Huck arrives, wearing a straw hat and shorts, ready to help. He says Rick needs something and he brought it with him.
Ooh, is it a gun for the show down? Grenades? Body armour?
...It's the bloody Native American mannequin, which Huck credits with saving his life.
What is this I don't even.
Now we get a montage of the romantic times Rick and Cindy had to remind us that he loved her very much. That's all fine. We know this. They got married about 20 minutes ago, if not less. Can we actually have a showdown now?
The montage ends with him hugging the punching bag. Possible symbolism? Were I being uncharitable (let's not kid ourselves here, I am) I'd say he was hugging a punching bag while thinking of his wife with the implication his wife was a punching bag- but it's clear he loves and misses her so it was unintended. Given the way the movie treats all OTHER women in the movie, however, there might be a subconscious reading there vis a vis the writer and women in general.
Anyway, by my reckoning there's about ten minutes left and I'm still woefully unsatisfied here.
One hour, fifteen minutes in, Rick is now stalking in some bushes. (Maybe he will find the teenagers he left there to rot). A man in an orange shirt scans the horizon with concern in his eyes. He has a gun.
Cut to Rick. Rick shoots an arrow. Cut to orange shirt man. Orange shirt man clumsily falls down.
And no I did not edit this .GIF other than to put it together. It's just that jarring a thing.
At the same time Rick is skulking about in the urban jungle of Hollywood, NORMAD is in DRUG DEALER form, dressing up for a nice dinner date with some clientele. Donning some sunglasses for indoor use, NORMAD is well-pleased that his lackey approves of them.
A generic drug dealer arrives. Simultaneously, Rick has infiltrated the house of DRUG DEALER NORMAD.
Sloppy (or clever, depending upon your priorities) editing takes over in the fight sequences. If you've ever seen Marvel's Daredevil, you know how amazing their one-on-one fight sequences are:
Ahh, Protagonists and Antagonists clashing in a carefully choreographed ballet of transactional violence.
Then there's this:
Rick is confronting someone in the same room with him with a crossbow. He shoots (at the camera)
So his target is in front of him, presumably. In the next shot, we see the victim hit:
Now look at those shots closely. What do you see?
The attacker and the attackee are standing in the same bloody place. Presumably they couldn't flip the camera to show the back of the room, but it's a jarring, ridiculous editing choice.
The problem is this keeps happening. It's the Anti-Daredevil sequence. The attacker and the attacked are almost always in wholly separate shots.
At any rate, while DRUG DEALER NORMAD is trying to close his deal, his Sunglass-loving henchman lets him know that someone killed one of the guards outside. Reasonably, DRUG DEALER NORMAD suspects his cartel dance partner is trying to pull a fast one and promptly murders him.
Here, again, a wasted opportunity to show Rick's cleverness. Rick could have continued to play both sides against each other until no one remained, but instead this angle is completely dropped and we get more fights where no one directly hits anyone.
The sequence plays thusly:
Rick pops out of a door. CUT to other end of the Hall, where someone is standing. Someone fires. CUT back to Rick. Rick fires. CUT back to the hall.
It's disconnected and thus loses all impact.
Also somehow orange shirt guy is alive again. Well, until Rick shoots him. Again. First an arrow, then a bullet. Poor orange-shirted guy.
Somewhere else in the house, DRUG DEALER NORMAD is snorting cocaine so he can evolve into his final form, when from off screen we hear Rick say "surprise, you didn't expect to see me here did ya~" in the most non-threatening way possible. NORMAD takes a few moments to process this.
Now Rick is here in all his resplendent glory. Now the great battle can finally begin. We come to the climax of our little tale~
...Or not. NORMAD used "Summon generic henchmen"! It was super effective.
NORMAD saunters up to Rick and informs him that he would love to kill him personally, but he's "too busy [snorting cocaine]. He yells his henchmen to go kill Rick elsewhere.
This is the perfect plan.
The Henchmen take Rick outside, where Huck arrives out of nowhere, distracting them by letting himself get shot in the leg. I wish I was lying.
Rick, ever the concerned and considerate protagonist, tries to poke the wound, getting told off by Huck in the process. Rick then orders Huck to "do that tourniquet thing." He the swans off without even a thanks, leaving Huck to constrict blood flow to his leg with his belt.
OUR HERO, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
CUT to NORMAD, who has finally ingested enough cocaine to regain his JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD FINAL FORM form.
NORMAD is praying to Satan, thanking him for the days' bounty.
Rick slowly walks in, and in a calm folksy way, says "It's me again."
If you've ever seen Newhart, he sounds like Larry. It's that mellow. It's not the best action hero line.
"You're the kind of puke that makes the world decay," Rick continues, desperastely trying to channel Sylvester Stallone from Cobra.
JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD [final form] offers Rick a job-- work with him selling drugs, and be rich.
Rick sensibly declines.
With a swipe of his briefcase, NORMAD disarms Rick, and they begin to fight... very slowly. Very, very slowly, with wide punches that maybe connect if you squint just so.
It's like watching a Mark Twain lookalike fight a cut-rate Machete lookalike.
Then, in a VERY slo-motion squence even slower than what has come before, Rick manages to double over NORMAD, grab a ceremonial dagger from somewhere, and stab him.
NORMAD's last words are "I'll see you in Hell, Beeeeechh", to which Rick sternly replies, "Not a problem."
No, love, no. you're never going to make that work as a Cool Phrase.™
Please stop trying.
So, after all that buildup and plot foreplay, after an hour and twenty one minutes, the total fight time from start to the death of JUDGE HIGH PRIEST OF SATAN DRUG DEALER NORMAD [final form] was 33 seconds.
Thirty-three bloody seconds. Not even a minute.
Like most climaxes of "badass" men, it was quick, nasty and wholly unsatisfying.
Rick then sets fire to the ex-NORMAD's home, and leaves with Huck.
The next day, when going to see Cindy's' grave, Rick is visited by the same strange nun who had visited Huck. it's implied her presence shifted Huck into the whole "religion of Hucklebrry Huck mode." It was either that or the bleach ingestion, I'm sure.
The nun prevents Rick from mourning, telling him she needs him to take her on a ride to the hospital right away. Nothing more than that. Just an insistence that rather than explain, he needs to take her there now.
So at this point, I instantly guessed "Cindy is alive." But I just as quickly dismissed this. After all, there was a funeral. They buried her. Presumably SOMEONE had looked in her casket and verified a body? I mean she wasn't so badly mangled as to warrant a closed casket.
But I forgot. This i the world of GETEVEN, where logic doesn't apply.
Yes, she lives. And Rick didn't know because "they wouldn't let her tell him and that since people were trying to kill her "a burial service had to be held." Who the hell is "They?" Was Rick not paying ANY attention to the funeral preparations? He was clearly conscious.
Rick tells her not to worry, that NORMAD and all his friends have gone to their idol. And they cannot hurt her any more. And also he is wearing AMERICA on his body. (Well he didn't say that bit, but the film tells us)
And so too, neither JOHN DE HART or this movie can hurt me any more.
All in all, this film is worth watching once just to experience how bad things can get. The basic bones of the plot were present and generally hung together, even if they were doled out in an extremely decompressed manner, but ironically I think makes the film less legendary and likely to be talked about once the initial twittering, laughing and finger-pointing is over than say "The Room", because "The Room" leaves a lot more room (pun... possibly intended) for interpretation and argument, and that is what grants an artistic work immortality in many cases because people will keep taking about it forever.
GETEVEN, unfortunately is straightforward, and its execution banal. With the plot it had, it needed to at least have more competent action, and genuine tension / surprise in the execution, but that all was undercut. It was more like the Seinfield of the action movie genre, where people spend more time sitting around and talking about nothing than getting on with the business of plot. The problem is that those discussions in and of themselves were not compelling.
I got to movies to be transported, to escape reality, not to recreate my feelings of awkward inner embarrassment watching someone cluelessly making bad conversation with captive waitstaff. Frankly, the only thing that transcends reality in this film is that someone with the leathery cardboard constitution of Rick could have have charmed his way into Cindy's life without JOHN DE HART's money behind him.
Thank you for going on this journey of cinematic pain with me, and if you want just a little more torture, here's a trailer for the film cut by the incomparable Cinefamily that shares some of the choicer bits of it (NSFW):
I leave you with a collection of wonderful words of wisdom GETEVEN has given humanity:
Having successfully invaded both America and Canada from her home base in Windsor, Paisley has become horribly corrupted by the world. She hates active voice and wishes to god Twitter had an edit button. Dedicated to "creating the greatest 'Ship of them all", she ponders horribly terrible, idiotic things for your amusement.