dir. Paul Gross
Starring: Paul Gross, Caroline Dhaverna
Review By Greg Klymkiw
How anyone could suggest with a straight face that Passchendaele is any good at all, renders me agog. I originally had no right to even comment on the movie a few years ago when I staggered out after the first miserable hour at its World Premiere in 2008 at the Toronto International Film Festival, but rest assured, I eventually suffered through the entire sewage bath when it opened theatrically to confirm my initial feelings.
The full dosage of Paul Gross's directorial followup to his risible curling (Yes, Curling!) "comedy" Men With Brooms (and preceding his monumentally sickening Western "comedy" Gunless) forced me to nail my feet to the floor. I have the scars to prove it.
This $20,000,000.00 war film (a bit of an oxymoron in this day and age, anyway - even before going in you know you're in for some bargain basement carnage) is one of the most embarrassing, poorly written, miserably directed excuses for something purporting to be a motion picture that I have ever had the utter displeasure to waste precious hours of my life on. The first few minutes of this Dollar-rama Saving Private Ryan had a few visceral shocks to be sure (thanks, no doubt to a decent second unit team), but once the stiff-jawed leading man (Gross, 'natch) settled his sorry shell-shocked ass back on the homefront, I pretty much had to nail my kneecaps to the seat to stay for entirety of this jaw-droppingly wretched picture.
The paper thin characters/caricatures all deliver mind-numbingly awful dialogue as the contrived story plods interminably along its dreary way - treading heavily into the territory of melodrama of the worst sort. Don't get me wrong - I love war pictures and I especially love war pictures that have both melodrama and sentimentality. That said, there is good melodrama and bad melodrama and there is sentimentality that resonates with the emotional heartache that someone like John Ford was able to master with his eyes sewn shut.
Alas, Paul Gross is most certainly not John Ford - Garry Marshall with a severe migraine, perhaps, but not much more than that. Gross directs with the grace of a faulty jackhammer that keeps missing its mark. Perhaps he might have made a good picture if he'd produced and starred in it and let a real writer and director do their respective jobs.
Gross is definitely a good actor and the camera loves him, but in this movie he lopes about like some pretty boy Gary Cooper over-dosed on Maple Syrup, uttering dialogue that not even Ed Wood would have been capable of writing. In fact, let it be said now that as a writer, Ed Wood was pretty much Clifford Odets compared to Gross.
The movie, for all its utter stupidity, reached some kind of nadir when Gross chose to crosscut between graphic descriptions of what shrapnel can do to the human body whilst a loving couple bang each other with youthful abandon. Spielberg did a similar thing in Munich. I applauded Spielberg for the audacity, but couldn't really forgive the stupidity - especially since he had his lead character boinking wifey whilst having flashbacks to violent killings he was not even present to have experienced. I was even convinced nobody could have topped such idiocy, but Paul Gross managed to do it. Alas, bereft of Spielberg's panache, which made Munich barely watchable, Gross has little to offer as a director save for complete incompetence.
If only Gross had been able to rise to the level of M.O.W. competence, I might have been able to avoid putting holes in my feet and kneecaps (in addition to not having the taste of bile in my mouth, which comes up on me even when I think about the picture). Alas, my desires fell upon deaf ears. Between those deaf ears, however, I can only assume plenty of air resides happily and fetidly within.
Happy Fucking Canada Day!
THE FILM CORNER RATING:
TURD DISCOVERED BEHIND HARRY'S CHARBROIL & DINING LOUNGE
This is a rating The Film Corner delivers to films too bad to garner one-star (*). Said films would normally then receive the "One Pubic Hair" rating, however, not to besmirch the fine pubic hair recipient Sharknado by lumping it in (so to speak) with genuine turds, I was forced to create a critical rating even lower.
The Rating is, quite simply and evocatively:
"TURD DISCOVERED BEHIND HARRY'S CHARBROIL & DINING LOUNGE".
As pictured, this an actual turd found by myself and Project Grizzly filmmaker Peter Lynch in the illustrious Parkdale parking lot behind Harry's wherein the two of us had just dined with writer Geoff Pevere.
Now, please feel free to acknowledge, as I do, pictures displaying the most appalling ineptitude, exceeding that of even Sharknado. It is a critical rating which will, one hopes, seal the selected work's fate in some manner of infamy.
FILMS WHICH HAVE RECEIVED THIS RATING
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