Chase Williamson Rob Mayes Paul Giamatti Clancy Brown Johnny Weston
JOHN DIES AT THE END
I’m always concerned when a film debuts at a film festival (SXSW March 2011) and then doesn’t hit theaters until Feb 2012. John Dies At The End has only one thing going for it, and it’s certainly not the title. Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Win Win) has just enough scenes spread throughout the film to keep you wondering what his purpose is. Relatively new actor Williamson and TV star Mayes keep your attention fairly well with their level of captured excitement. However, the director says he found this novel from an Amazon robot; that might not be the best place to look for a movie next time.
There is something in the “soy sauce” and it isn’t the kind for Asian food. Best friends Dave (Williamson) and John (Mayes) discover a powerful drug that looks like tobacco juice and, of course, manage to inject themselves with it. They receive “side effects” from it, enabling them with special powers like understanding time and space, knowing how many coins are in your pocket and what dream you had last night. When paranoia gets the better of John, Dave decides to tell the world about what’s happening to a journalist (Giamatti), who doesn’t believe him until he exercises the power in front of his face.
One critic described this script as a continuation of writing from a bathroom wall. It may not be that bad, but I lost interest very quickly. It’s often never clear what Dave and John’s objectives are as they go from police stations to rock concerts and far away kingdoms. Dogs can talk and door handles turn into male genetalia; “that door can never be opened,” Dave says. The head exploding violence, puking and smashing of nasty insects should entice immature adolescents, but even they are likely to abandon the convoluted narrative.
John Dies At The End is a perfect example of how one good actor cannot make a good movie. Giamatti doesn’t do much for the script and seems more like he took a wrong turn and walked on the wrong set. Still, it’s likely the film is only getting a wide release because of the Oscar nominee’s presence. If you are familiar with writer/director Don Coscarelli’s work you probably know what you are in for before the movie starts.
Final Thought – Giamatti doesn’t make this more interesting.
By: Dustin Chase