Wednesday, May 5, 1999

Idle Hands

Posted By on Wed, May 5, 1999 at 12:00 AM

A script is like fate: Whatever happens, for better or worse, "it is written, Effendi." But when you’re totally at a loss for inspiration, why even bother?

Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer, debut screenwriters breaking in with Idle Hands, resort to the video rental formula: Take two cups of Bill and Ted, a drop of Beetlejuice, a pinch of Carrie and two pints of Return of the Living Dead, add them to a blender full of boring, "burned out kids today" crap, turn the dial to PULVERIZE, then pour it all into a remake of The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) by way of Wes Craven and Half Baked. If scams like Idle Hands are transparently derivative enough, then who’s the customer this Drink o’ Drek was concocted for?

Director Rodman Flender (rhymes with blender) comes back from the grave of grade-D Hollywood product (The Unknown, In the Heat of Passion and Leprechaun 2) to lead a young cast through an indiscretion they’ll be ashamed of in the morning. The PR says Flender once produced 23 movies in two years – maybe that explains it. If you’ve tried to get it up too many times for pay, you’re either too numb to care or too cynical to know the difference.

As far as the characters go, slacker Anton (Devon Sawa) wanders through truly astounding clouds of unconsciousness before realizing that his right hand is possessed. Could it be … Satan? Could it be … reefer madness? Could it be Mom was right – that too much self-abuse does rot the mind?

Well, somebody’s brain is giving off a smell here, and it’s not coming from the actors. Anton’s doper buds, Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson), manage to be terminally cute despite the script, but no more. The object of Anton’s desire, Molly (Jessica Alba), is the obligatory piece of nubile candy. Underlying this total waste of (their and our) time is the same pseudoreligious mindlessness that occult horror has always relied on. Only in the hands of Flender & Co., it just gets stupider and stupider.

George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com.

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