“Doggy style with a demon.”

I prefer books to movies. Partly, this is because books can be hurled aside with great force once they have aroused one’s dissatisfaction. A movie, at least a movie watched in a theatre, cannot give that catharsis. All the available methods of expressing one’s displeasure with a movie involve making a spectacle of oneself (storming out of the theatre), crime (rushing the projector room and laying about with a broomstick), or supplies that one might not have on hand (only the truly dedicated watchers of bad movies go to the trouble of routinely sneaking sackfuls of rotten fruit past overpriced-snack-monopoly-enforcing ticket-takers*). DVDs are little better. One could, I suppose, throw them aside, but that requires the capacity for premeditation and rational thought. If one just impulsively hurls, one takes the risk of hurling aside one’s DVD player, or, much worse, one’s beloved Macbook, in a fit of cinematic rage.

For those who like to take their media vengeance in a mode deliberative mode, books also have the advantage. One can burn a book, of course, although that method is only for the shamefully declasse among us. Fire and books should only be combined if one can do it with style — an old friend once received as a gift a copy of the Bible with pages just the right size to be rolled into joints. One can dismember the book page by page in the toilet and use it to wipe one’s ass. (I eagerly await the day that they come out with a 2-ply edition of the complete works of William Wordsworth.) If that approach is too scatological, one can simply scrawl everything from mild critique to horrible obscenities on the pages. By contrast, what can one do with a DVD? If one has a dog, perhaps one can use it as a frisbee. The microwave is also available. But that really exhausts the options.

I spent those droplets of your attention that went to those last two paragraphs simply to provide context for the following wish: oh, oh, oh, if only District 9 had been a book!

I will not say that District 9 is a bad movie. Waterworld is a bad movie. Home Alone is a bad movie. Anything with Jim Carrey in it is a bad movie. No. District 9 is in a group all its own. My spies tell me that there is — no shit — a movie called Dirty Cop, No Donut, and that might — just might — be able to match this abusive alien abomination. For different reasons, Expelled is also in a class with this movie. You can discern the horribleness of this movie by the fact that it seems to have gotten an 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, proving only that the critics worship CGI effects even when they’re packaged with unbearable cinematic drivel.

In brief, the plot is as follows. Broken-down alien spaceship appears over a country to be discussed later. Government opens spaceship, rescues aliens. Then, shenanigans ensue. You know, shenanigans. Concentration camps, medical experiments, forced resettlement, cat food, derogatory nicknames — shenanigans!

Eventually, the one smart alien manages to get the ship working again and speeds away to fetch help for his imprisoned brethren. In this, the alien is abetted by the Genocide Inc. Field Commander, who has changed teams. Let’s just call him Gregor Samsa, shall we? Gregor changes teams, naturally, only after the magic alien fluid starts to turn him into an alien. This is also the fluid that powers the ship, and, no doubt, is the source of Superman’s only weakness. Gregor doesn’t change teams out of morphogenic sympathy for the aliens, exactly. Rather, he changes teams because Genocide Inc. decides that his metamorphosed form is more useful chopped up as a source of DNA to figure out how to operate the biometric alien weapons.

As you can probably tell from this brief summary, the movie is intended to make the following challenging and controversial political claim:

“Racism is bad!”

Of course, the movie made this claim with admirable subtlety. It’s not obvious at all that the movie is about racism. For example, the writers did not set the movie in Germany. That would have been too obvious.

Instead, they set it in South Africa.

I could really just stop the review here. Instead, I’ll tell you a little more about Gregor. Gregor is the protagonist. Gregor is also a blithering idiot. And not the lovable Forrest Gump kind of an idiot. Oh no. He’s more like the George W. Bush sort of an idiot, who is placed in a position of responsibility even though he couldn’t find his ass with both gruesomely mutated half-human half-alien claws. Actually, wouldn’t it have been great if there were a magic Muslim fluid that could turn W into an imam? Then Dick Cheney could have had W kidnapped and taken to the basement of some hospital under Blackwater’s corporate headquarters and used as a test subject for the latest Koran-flushing and waterboarding techniques. Then W could have escaped and met up with a lovable Sharia lawyer to help him liberate his people. W gets into a MechWarrior and holds off an entire battalion of mercenaries so the LSL can flee into space in a nuclear-powered Mosque while W is left behind in Abu Ghraib to say five prayers a day for the next three years until LSL comes back with a copy of the Bible so that W can accept Jesus as his personal savior again. Actually, replace the Muslim references with space alien references and you’ve pretty much captured the whole damn movie. (The W-Gregor parallels never end. Example: Gregor only gets the job because his father-in-law is the CEO of Genocide, Inc. Also, Gregor spends pretty much all his pre-betraying-humanity time searching for weapons of mass destruction.) Only the W version (call it “The Green Zone”) would actually be funny. Is there a studio rep in the house? I want points for this. And by points, I do not mean net points, bitch. And I’m not fuckin’ writing it on spec. And — Amanda, if you’re reading, and I know (suspect) you are, you can help by getting James St. James to direct.**

I mean, fuck, the W thing? Pretty much all of that stuff actually happens in the movie! Including the MechWarrior! Actually, the MechWarrior is probably what made the movie tolerable. Not because it actually improved the movie, but because I went to the movie with Ellen, Daniel, and similarly amusing people and the entrance of the MechWarrior was the point at which Ellen’s mind finally snapped and she started entertaining the rest of us with delirious laughing.

Sweet holy Jesus Christ who ogles preteens in miniskirts! This movie watches like Tom Clancy were ordered to drop gigagallons of acid and write it as part of a community service sentence for buggering barnyard animals while wearing a Klan mask. As a concession to good taste, District 9 is at least refreshingly free of nausea-inducing gore. Oh, wait. I’m thinking of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There’s no such luck with this movie. I couldn’t even watch the bit where Gregor tries to cut off his claw to spite his race. Look, do you want to know how bad this movie is? It even includes the yodeling music. You know, like in every scene in every bad movie where the main character has a slow-mo fight/march through the desert and you just know he’s going to die tragically and it has that sort of sing-songey howling in the background, that droning YAAAOOOAAAIIIOOOO thing? Yes, District 9 even includes that!

But I have high hopes for the sequel. In my imagination, District 10 is a five-minute short of a flotilla of alien vengeance spaceships appearing over earth and lasergunning it into space dust, followed by a montage in which we get to see the directors and writer of District 9 being riddled with blasts from incredibly exotic weapons. In reality, of course, District 10 will no doubt start out with the aliens actually being enslaved. And then it’ll turn out that it’s all a big Pentagon experiment: they invented the magic fluid in DARPA to turn American prisoner-soldiers into unstoppable aliens who could operate top-secret biological weapons, only some of them escaped with the latest military technology and fled to South Africa to live lives of pacifism and racial harmony.

I confess, it wasn’t all bad. There were two high points in the movie.

1. At one point, President MechWarrior Gregor W. Samsa Bush uses a pig as a weapon.

2. When PMWGWSB flees the secret hospital, Genocide Inc. recruits the public to help capture him by claiming that his mutation is actually a STD. The audience gets to see this propaganda campaign in all its richly illustrated glory, including a delightful picture of PMWGWSB mounting an alien. The Evil Nigerian Gangsters who run the underworld of the space alien concentration camp have a fine old time making fun of PMWGWSB for his kinky lifestyle while he begs them for a chance to buy food.

And it is that scene, and with it the line that lent this review its title, that marks the first point at which I had to choke down alien-poison-induced black vomit.

(With numerous apologies to Dorothy Parker. I can’t write a review of anything anymore without numerous references to Dorothy Parker. If you catch the Parker references in this review, and you are a single female, please send your phone number to paul.gowder[at]gmail.com.)

* Has nobody from the antitrust division ever been to a movie?

** Amanda is an ex-girlfriend, who is currently the Girl Friday for said totally sicktwisted media personality. And Paul’s Fundamental Rule of the Internet is that exes always randomly google you and find your blog. Before District 9, the most unpleasant movie I’d ever seen was Party Monster. Or maybe Pink Flamingos. Anyway.


11 Responses to ““Doggy style with a demon.””

  1. Aaron Says:

    On behalf of all New Zealanders, I apologise for Peter Jackson.

  2. eric Says:

    Oh dear. This snippet, gleaned from Rotten Tomatoes, tells me everything I need to know (none of it good) about this movie:

    If you’re looking for a film with a heart and a soul that isn’t afraid to examine the essence of what it means — and what it might cost — to be human, this is it.

    And then tonstant weader fwowed up.

  3. HipHopPoppa Says:

    This movie sucked. Not since Alien vs Predator have I waited so long for so little payoff.

  4. Steve M. Says:

    I enjoyed the movie — but perhaps that merely reveals that I take a guilty pleasure in summer popcorn movies. That said, this was a popcorn movie. That it’s been mistaken for something else says something bad about the state of popular cinema. Also, you left out the fact that Gregor W. Samsa Bush’s bad haircut and mustache gave him a passing resemblance to a certain German political figure.

    I thought the strangest thing about the movie was its commitment to a number of factual implausibilities. I liked the notion that, hey, maybe when the aliens show up, they won’t appear over Washington or London or Moscow or Beijing. And I’m willing to accept, for the purposes of the movie, that the aliens’ technology, which is powered by a weird black, mutagenic liquid, can be used only by an alien. Hey, why assume, like every other summer alien movie, it’ll take a plucky team of Pentagon researchers three days of hard work to reverse-engineer alien technologies? (Remember when Jeff Goldblum used a primitive thinkpad or macbook or whatever to bring down the aliens?)

    But I’m sitting there the whole time thinking that there’s absolutely no way that governments in the places where aliens usually do show up in science fiction movies would just let South Africa handle this one, and then let them contract it out to this breathtakingly incompetent company. And, least plausible of all, why doesn’t some government say to some of the aliens, “Hey, you guys can use this freaky alien weaponry. We’re sorry you can’t pilot your ship home. Really are. But, you know, as long as you’re stuck here, this shantytown the South Africans have you living in totally sucks. If you agree to form a few alien regiments for us we’ll, uh, build you some nice huge houses back in our country, which is lovely. 56″ plasma TVs. SubZero fridges. Slate tiles in the shower. You’ll love it. All you have to do is use your nearly invincible battlemechs to strike down our enemies.”

  5. Paul Gowder Says:

    Yeah, I was thinking something very similar, but couldn’t find a way to work it into the review. Even if the realities of international relations balancing prevented any one power from just going in and saying “uh, hey, South Africa? You know those aliens? Those are under U.S./Chinese/whoever protection now. As is your entire country. Hi neighbor!,” there is no way in hell that the CIA isn’t all up in this shit.

  6. Steve M. Says:

    “And as a symbol of our friendly friendship, I’ve just ordered two carrier groups and several divisions of the Army to your country. Some admirals and generals will be calling you about the details.”

  7. Jacob T. Levy Says:

    “I prefer books to movies. Partly, this is because books can be hurled aside with great force once they have aroused one’s dissatisfaction.”

    um, Paul? I think you might want to investigate life plans that involve the *pursuit* of *goods* rather than the management, or pre-emptive planning for the management, of bads.

    Cranky curmudgeonliness is something that’s best aged into…

  8. Paul Gowder Says:

    Jacob, I’m more than old enough to get my curmudgeon card. Are there dues I need to pay?

  9. driveby compliment Says:

    I’m taken, but I thought this review was brilliant, I got all the Dorothy Parker references, and (off post topic) it’s nice to see a nerdy man respond to Roissy with the appropriate level of contempt. You are sexy and awesome.

  10. Paul Gowder Says:

    That comment just made my week. Thank you.

  11. M.i.A Says:

    Well this movie is one of the most original and innovative movies that I have seen in a long, long time. For all of you who didn’t enjoy this movie as much as I did, well maybe the problem is not with the movie, but yourselves. If you want typical Hollywood USA crap, this one is DEFINITELY not for you. Good day.

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