Dir/scr. Finn Taylor. US. 2006. 93 min.
The Darwin Awards is a hit-and-miss comedy with far too few hits and way too manymisses. Indeed, the title is perilously close to reflexive, given the likelyfate of this misbegotten hybrid. A Premiere presentation at the Sundance FilmFestival, it will initially rely on the morbid curiosity of film-goers familiarwith the titular awards. A documentary filmmaking conceit
The opening sequence introduces the viewerto the questionably humourous real-life Darwin Awards, the mock tribute tomankind's innate stupidity, presented annually (and generally posthumously) tothose among us who have died or been severely injured in an entirelypreventable or pointlessly reckless manner
Michael Burrows (Fiennes) is fascinated bythe Darwin Awards. As a crime-scene profiler with the San Francisco police, heis a student of human nature. He has an uncanny ability to match evil-doing toevil-doers
Burrows loses his job but the filmmakerinsists on continuing with his project; for no discernible reason Burrowsaccepts the intrusion. The tenuousness of this POV conceit snaps but directorTaylor is stuck with it, leaving audiences to stare intermittently through thedigital range-finder and wonder if this is a film about the Darwin Awards orabout a really stupid detective named Burrows.
Burrows convinces an insurance companypresident
Most viewers will accept a centralcharacter who is foul-mouthed from dawn until dusk but typically there is anoff-setting quality
The movie is not without its moments -David Arquette has a humourous cameo as a speed-obsessed Darwin contender whobolts a jet engine onto his clapped-out sedan - but there's not enoughconnective material between the Burrows-Siri story and the Darwin theme, whichis played out as almost stand-alone anecdotes that stop the film rather thanfurther it. Matters get truly out of hand in the final third, where the serialkiller plot-line somehow returns only to be interrupted by an extended detourinto a gross-out death at a Metallica concert. Cue the scenes of the bandplaying live. It's a cheap play for audience approval, a final futile act ofdesperation worthy of a Darwin Award.
One wonders why Finn didn't just make adocumentary.
Production companies: Tavistock Films,WowFilms, Blumhouse Productions
International sales: Icon EntertainmentInternational
Executive producers: Charles Hsiao, LaurieMiller, Steven Siebert
Producers: Jane Sindell, Johnny Wow, JasonBlum
Cinematography: Hiro Narita
Production design: Peter Jamison
Editor: Rick LeCompte
Music: David Kitay
Main cast: Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder