Thursday, January 17, 2008

Film Review: "Teeth" (B+)

Tonight I had the pleasure of attending an early screening of "Teeth" with the director (and screenwriter), Mitchell Lichtenstein, in attendance. I went into in the film thinking it was either going to be very good or very bad, but I actually fell somewhere in the middle. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.

I enjoyed the film for the most part. I thought it was provocative and dark, while still retaining some wry humor. There is also pervasive use of some sly imagery that was pretty humorous (ex. sonic advertising a 99 cent banana split after a certain incident). I thought Lichtenstein, overall, did a pretty damn good job considering it's an awfully tough plot to pull off. Who knew a movie centering around the vagina dentata myth could be so amusing?

The main good thing about this film is the acting - it takes a brave soul to play someone who has a toothed vagina. Jess Weixler (Dawn) deserves some serious kudos for some of the things she had to do on screen - I'm not sure I would have been able to pretend I was fighting a gyno with four (!) fingers up my virginal and very angry monster vagina. I also liked the screenplay for the most part, but sometimes it did feel a bit repetitive. And there is a reason for that.

The thing is, this movie only has one thing going for it and that's the toothed vagina, which you never even see, but that's probably a good thing since it would have been detrimental to the film as a whole. There's the sub-plot of the characters being very pro-abstinence, which was interesting but kind of boring since it took up quite a bit of time. And I admit, I also really just couldn't connect with any of that since I am so turned off by people who espouse that BS.

The movie is pretty slow-paced, which is fine, but there's also not much to look forward to after the first ... I don't even know what to call it. Penis eating scene? My point is, it happens pretty early on in the film and then it happens twice more so it isn't that surprising. There are some funny lines to go along with how it happens, but a screaming man and a chopped off penis get kind of old. Also, I didn't entirely enjoy how the film ended - I just didn't quite believe that this girl was going to be some sort of superhero with a toothed vagina ridding the world of sexual predators.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the movie because it was clever and funny, as well as really fucking disturbing at times. I found myself squirming and crossing my legs at one point. It's certainly going to cause some serious controversy, even if it doesn't get a wider release.

I've got to start taking my camera to these things so I can post pictures from the Q&A sessions. I wish I'd brought it with me tonight, I could have recorded some funny bits that happened. Lichtenstein is quite the funny guy and Harry Knowles always has something interesting to say.

Also, YAY for filming in Austin (although you really can't tell from the movie itself).

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