Passion Play

May 6, 2011

Branded a trainwreck before the audience had barely finished walking out on it at the Toronto International Film Festival, Passion Play nevertheless sounds intriguing on paper: The directorial debut of Scrooged screenwriter Mitch Glazer—which he’s been developing for the last 20 years—it features Mickey Rourke as a down-on-his-luck jazz trumpeter who stumbles into a carnival, and discovers that sideshow act Megan Fox is an actual angel. When he tries to take her "away from all this," he finds himself verbally sparring with a menacing gangster played by Bill Murray, whose deadliest weapon seems to be his brutal deadpan.

And true, forgetting the cast for the moment, that’s exactly the sort of premise that some insufferable freshman film student would cook up after seeing Wim Wenders for the first time. And yes, the hints at ham-fisted allegories and the pervasive self-seriousness going on in this trailer don’t exactly diminish that. But on the other hand, Murray playing evil equals fun, and there’s something about a film that’s this tone-deaf to its own ridiculousness that suggests this could still be perversely enjoyable—if not in its very limited theatrical run, then when it debuts on DVD three weeks later. And you have to give it to a movie that has the blasé ineptitude and/or balls to claim it stars “Academy Award winner Mickey Rourke.” That’s just awesome.