By Christian DiMartino
If you’ve ever seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you’ll recall a scene in which they’re all sitting around discussing this film that Sarah (Kristen Bell) starred in, in which she was in a fight against killer cell phones. This scene is funny, in the way they describe the ridiculousness of the film. But yet in the back of my mind, I always asked myself, “Didn’t Stephen King write a novel like that?” And surely enough, he did. It’s called Cell. I’m sure, since it’s King, that it’s better than that Sarah Marshall movie. And I’m also sure that it’s a helluva lot better than the newest crappy film adaptation of Cell.
Cell has been in production hell for years… Which is a bad sign, if you’ve ever seen Serena, that awful Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence abortion, or Pixar’s beautifully mediocre The Good Dinosaur. If a film is put off for years, it’s probably a sign that they’re trying to spare us from complete torture for as long as they could, and I really wish they had kept Cell in hell forever.
The film is a bloated, boring, unintentionally hilarious, dull mess. How could John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and Isabelle Fuhrman have done this to themselves? Well, I bet they were pulling for it to not get released. This is one of those terrible films in which the cast probably had to have a few drinks, take their beating, and be done with it. I took the beating, but alas, I didn’t have the drink. But I needed to be up by 3 am this morning ( I’m currently at an airport writing this), and I’ll say that Cell speeded up the sleeping process. So that’s something.
Cusack plays Clay, and I don’t know if it’s the character or what, but he looks as bored as we are. Even in the film’s most engaging (and ridiculous sequence). He arrives at an airport, and calls his wife on a payphone. Next thing we know, everyone starts foaming out the mouth, going ballistic and attacking each other. Good lord, this scene is hilarious. Just as you’d imagine. Clay starts panicing, sort of. He takes this all kinda well if you ask me. Maybe he’s just trying to restrain himself from laughing. It may be a dull performance from an actor I love, but he keeps a straight face like a pro, especially during a hilarious plane explosion with the worst visual effects in recent memory. And that’s a real feat.
He soon teams up with Samuel L. Jackson (I’m going off of memory, don’t know his name in the movie. But he basically plays himself anyways) and Fuhrman, and soon they set off… Somewhere. I think they’re just trying to survive. Or something. Clay is trying to get home to his family. That’s about it. Don’t know about the other two. All I really know is that the story fails to engage after that airport sequence. Hilarious as it might’ve been, we almost long for that ridiculousness.
I felt so at distance during Cell, mostly because I just couldn’t give a damn about anything. Not that I care about anything anyways, but it’s a film that just seems to spin it’s boring wheels until it gets to the climax, which is about the vaguest thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s hardly a conclusion. You don’t feel satisfied. You kind of just shrug, and try to forget what you’ve just seen.
It’s biggest actor of terror though is probably it’s boredom. Had it been awful and fun, then that would’ve been something. But awful and boring, like last week’s Warcraft, is a deadly combo. It could have at least been ridiculous fun, but it fails to really do anything right. It’s only occasionally amusing.
Evidently, King co-wrote the screenplay. Now, I haven’t read the novel. But I’m almost positive it’s an assload better than this garbage. I don’t blame him. I just found Cell a real shame. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a theatrical King release, and Cusack and Jackson made one, 1408, a few years ago, that actually worked. It’s a bummer man. Better luck next time.