Summer Moviethon 2016: Eyes Wide Shut

July 8: #24, Eyes Wide Shut

Tom Cruise is up all night to get lucky.

First, let's just point out that there's no possible way that Eyes Wide Shut could have met expectations for many of those who saw it. It was filmed 12 years after Stanley Kubrick's masterful Full Metal Jacket and was released after his death, so everyone knew it was his last film.

Even acknowledging that, the film is a bit of a mess. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise took time away from being the world's most uninteresting couple to play the world's most uninteresting couple in this film, with Kidman doing what she can to show up her hubby with some really bad overacting in the few scenes she manages to be in. It doesn't help that she appears in most of the film either stoned or drunk, nor does it help that the script is adamant about portraying nearly every woman in the film as one-note temptresses.

Well, there is that apparently pivotal argument scene early in the film where Kidman gets to stop auditioning for the role of Catwoman (seriously, watch her flirting at the party...so bad) and instead gets to play the role of the stereotypical Woman Who Just Wants to Argue. You get to marvel as she hysterically jumps to conclusions and erratically constructs terrible strawman arguments and Cruise, as the bored, rich doctor she's married to, plays the role of the husband who just doesn't get what his wife's deal is.

Besides the way the women are written in the film, which is decidedly 20th century, the plot is pretty bad. Kidman's character had a crush on a sailor she saw one time and thought, “Hey, if I had the chance, I'd probably bone him.” She tells Cruise this in a ridiculously drawn out story and gives her husband all the motivation he needs to go out for the rest of the night and try his damndest to get laid.

Oh, but let me save you an hour and a half...Cruise doesn't get laid. And it's not because he has a change of heart or realizes what a dipshit he's being, either. It's because ridiculous circumstances conspire to interrupt every chance that he gets to get some nookie. From timely phone calls to positive HIV tests, everything in the world seems to be happening only to deprive Cruise of dipping his noodle in some random vagina.

So what you have is basically Harold & Kumar Cheat on Their Wives, as Cruise's misadventures lead him to a ridiculous sex party-slash-Freemasons meeting that derails his quest for poontang and instead leaves him fearing for his life. Only then, when he realizes that he almost got killed over his need to get revenge on his wife for fantasizing about another guy, does he see that he doesn't want to cheat on her after all and would instead like to go do some Christmas shopping after telling her everything about his night on the town.

"I wonder if this cloak is hiding my raging boner."
You also get to enjoy some extremely annoying repeated piano accompaniment that is supposed to be minimalist and threatening and tense, but instead is grating and unimaginative and pretentious. Someone who liked this film would probably jump my case and talk about all the symbolism involved. Yes, there's plenty of that. Ominous red doors, headlines on a newspaper that say “Lucky to be Alive,” etc. There's a lot to examine here, just as with most Kubrick films.

That doesn't mean that it's enjoyable entertainment, though, and a lot of the symbolism is thrust in your face with such obvious vigor that any interest you may have in deciphering it quickly disappears. Kubrick films tend to be great because they work both on the surface level as simple entertainment with a clear theme and as deeper looks into more complex messages. This one doesn't work on that surface level, as it just comes off as a cautionary morality tale where the lead character gets to safely explore his wild side for a night before deciding that nope, a boring marriage isn't so bad after all.

Grade: D+

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