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marie antoinette
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Marie Antoinette

Starring Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman; Rip Torn
Written and Directed by Sofia Coppola

IN SHORT: Worst of the Year. [Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and innuendo. 123 minutes]

Usually, this early in the Oscar wannabe run, we add (so far) to each "...of the Year" pronouncement. We don't think Marie Antoinette has much to worry about. Mebbe it should light a candle and pray for an even bigger disappointment. Set just before the major events that kicked off the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette manages to force just about every 1980s new wave rock band -- think Banarama and Bow Wow Wow in addition the aforereferenced Adam Ant -- into its soundtrack. It doesn't do much of anything else but stun an audience with its sheer awfulness. Even a brief glimpse of star Kirsten Dunst's bare behind isn't enough to earn it the minimal $1.00 'wait and get a friend to rent it for you' rating from yours Cranky.

We dropped a line to one of our PR contacts about this film, just before taking a looksee at the Rotten Tomatoes website, needing to find links to background material so I could fill out this page. There must be some major new drug circulating amongst some of the critical community, because the kudos don't line up with anything Cranky heard in the packed theater in which the film was screened.

What was heard? Laughter. Now, this was at a Director's Guild screening. In the twenty five years Cranky has been in the DGA, this may be the second or third time that that has happened. Those laughing were quickly given the heave ho and the rest of us, meaning Cranky, hoped the film could right itself after an astounding (in bad taste) opening song which enthuses "fornication is fun!"

It may be but it sure isn't in good taste. Neither is the rambling tale of the Austrian lady who is summoned to France by her grandfather the King (Rip Torn) and placed in wedlock with a boy who would rather sleep with the stable hands, so the Court hens gossip. His action in bed supports the rumor, we guess, though we don't suggest you try to figure out the blood relation thing. Royalty sets standards all their own.

Quickly then, a lot of nothing happens. The British colonies revolt and France sends aid, just to piss Britain off. Marie is forced to acknowlege the King's mistress. The King dies and said mistress is packed off. The new queen, so Ms. Coppola takes pains to emphasize, never said "Let them eat cake!" but it really doesn't matter. We haven't seen so much shifting in seats in years. The rush of guests out of the house before director Coppola could take questions pretty much confirmed our own gut feeling that this thing is a major stinker. We bowed to our kidneys and left, as well. Reentering the theater in the middle of the QA would have been rude.

Since Cranky's mom raised him with the old "if you can't say something nice" adage, we will say that the costumes are lovely.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Marie Antoinette, he would have paid . . .


I did see another director acquaintance on the way out. We just laughed. No, waitasec. We both shuddered from the awful experience first. Laughter was a relief.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.