Cinematic Hell: Cruel Intentions (1999)
They're going for sexy, but no.. silly is more like it
After the catastrophe that was "Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas", I really need a bad movie that will at least make me laugh. Let see what's on my repentance list. oh... YAY!
Cruel Intentions is actually based on a movie and novel called "Dangerous Liaisons". Strange thing is, this remake follows the original story concept pretty well. Two rich, bratty step siblings Sebastian (Ryan Philippe) and Katherine (Sarah Michelle Gellar) just love messing with other people's lives (they're rich and assholes so they have nothing else to do). They place this really pointless bet revolving around Annette (Resse Witherspoon) losing her virginity to Sebastian. If Katherine wins, she gets her step brother's fancy 1950's car. If Sebastian wins, he gets to have sex with his step sister. Yeah, this plot probably just as stupid as "From Justin to Kelly". I think this plot works a lot better in the source material simply because well.. it's written a whole lot better!
The biggest problem with this movie is the writing and the terrible execution of this plot. It is possible to be too faithful to the source material. The only real changes here are the setting and the age changes. In the original, the characters are in their late 30's or early 40's. In Cruel Intentions, everyone is in high school (except for the very few and useless adult characters). There's suppose to be this very tragic element of Sebastian realizing his life has been nothing but a lie or game or whatever. But this dude is only 17! Is 17 the new 40 or something? Well maybe he and the other characters are very mature for their age right? Well... I can't really tell. It's impossible to tell because everyone in this movie talks like a Bond villain or just in a very non-human way.
Now in the original source material, we know these characters are awful people, tragic figures or pawns in the main character's little game. We are not meant to sympathize with these characters at all. However in the teen remake, we are suppose to feel sorry for Sebastian toward the end because he's "pussy whipped" (Katherine's words, not mine). Aside from the fact that Philippe and Witherspoon have no real on screen chemistry, the transition the Sebastian character has from "it's just a bet" to "I'm in love with this girl whom I've only known for a week" is really clumsily done. Also it's very hard to feel sorry for Sebastian when all the mess he makes in this stupid plot is his fault. Yeah Katherine is obviously an evil bitch, but he can't blame her for everything.
There's this really stupid subplot involving Katherine trying to turn this girl Cecile (Selma Blair) into a whore. It's some revenge plot that really doesn't matter until the last 15 minutes of the film. I'm not going to spend too much time on this pointless part of the movie. Though I will say that stupid kiss scene between Katherine and Cecil is rather funny (see Clip above).
The acting and the way the cast delivers these lines is the main reason Cruel Intentions is one of my favorite bad movies. It's clear the cast has no idea what the hell to do with such a bad script and the results of these actors trying to make it work are hilarious. The only person who seems to put in a decent performance is Reese Witherspoon. Everyone else tries their hardest (with Sarah Michelle Gellar as an exception) to make their roles believable. Poor Ryan Philippe is acting his ass off, but all that acting power is so in the wrong place. Sarah Michelle Gellar is probably the best thing about this entire movie. Yes she's clearly not trying (or she is but again the acting power is misplaced) but it's almost as if she knows what kind of movie she's in. Whenever she utters line like "You can put it anywhere" and 'I WANNA FUCK", I can't stop laughing.
So that's Cruel Intentions and I love it (In an ironic way of course). It's one of those movies that is so incoherently bad to the point where it's wildly entertaining. Yes the plot is stupid, the acting is ridiculous and the writing is so out of this world insane. But it is a very fun ride to the insane asylum. Think of it as baby's first Showgirls... wait that came out wrong.