American Psycho 2: All-American Girl
Brutally funny, expertly directed, and blessed with a pitch-perfect lead performance from Christian Bale, Mary Harron's American Psycho improved considerably on Bret Easton Ellis' notorious novel. Harron's film wasn't anything approaching a blockbuster, but it did well enough in theaters and on video to justify (commercially, at least) a sequel. Where American Psycho did just about everything right, American Psycho 2: All-American Girl gets it all wrong, beginning with its decision to replace the original's well-realized 1980s with the generic present. Opening with the death of Psycho's protagonist (played by a fellow whose back vaguely resembles Bale's), Psycho 2 follows the blood-soaked path of the precocious tot who killed him. That '70s Show's Mila Kunis takes over the role as the child grows up to be an ambitious undergraduate intent on joining the FBI. To that end, she enrolls in a class taught by William Shatner, an FBI legend with a weakness for buxom co-eds and tranquilizers. Kunis encounters several rivals in her efforts to become Shatner's teaching assistant, however, and soon her competitive drive has amassed a sizable body count. Anonymously directed by Morgan J. Freeman (Desert Blue, Hurricane Streets), Psycho 2 trades its predecessor's sharp social satire for a mixture of dumbed-down irony, groan-inducing black comedy, and gratuitous bloodshed. Like the original film, Psycho 2 treats mass murder as a joke, with society's indifference as the punchline, but the gag isn't fresh or funny this time around. Freeman and his screenwriters mistake misogyny and misanthropy for satire and sociological insight, and their film doesn't resemble its predecessor so much as it apes other examples of the killer-nymphet movie, that disreputable subgenre in which oversexed vixens butcher leering cads and catty competition, while modeling a series of cleavage-enhancing outfits.