Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bringing Up Madonna

Who's That Girl
Dir. James Foley
Year: 1987
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 92mins

I will defend Madonna over a lot of things. I don't think she's never given a good performance - Evita, Dick Tracy, Desperately Seeking Susan is some evidence for you - but last night I had the distinct displeasure to watch one of her earliest projects, Who's That Girl. It was a modern day retelling (of sorts) of the Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn film Bringing Up Baby. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Who's That Girl is one of the worst movies I have ever seen as well as, truly, one of the most tonally off-putting and bizarre. Unfortunately, a lot of the blame lies on Madonna.

There's really no defending her here and she was more than deserving of the Razzie Award she picked up, her second in two years after Shanghai Surprise. Madonna spends the entire movie acting like she has a mild form of mental retardation and dressed like a loon. Her voice is so nauseating in this movie that it comes as welcome respite to hear her natural voice on the soundtrack on legitimately fantastic songs "Who's That Girl", "Causing a Commotion" and "The Look of Love". The Madonna songs are the only good thing about it, actually!

The problems start with the opening credits, during which we get a prologue in the form of an animated sequence. Ignoring the fact that the cartoon Madonna looks nothing like the real one, it's also just a really cheap and nasty looking piece of work. Was the budget for this sequence a tenner? And then there's Madonna's romantic foil, the dull-as-dishwater Griffin Dunne. Although, perhaps these two deserve each other since they're both such undesirable and inept characters? The filmmakers efforts to make all the supporting characters so unpleasant backfires because they only manage to enhance the fact that there are no likable people in the whole thing.

And I'm not even going to get into the bizarre portrayal of lesbian prison guards and secretly homosexual detectives, patrolmen dolled up like gay porn stars, the strange subplot about a deadly endangered African large cat, the film's over-zealous use of guns, the chaotic ending and, until Star Trek, I'm fairly sure this movie was the only to feature the sport of fencing as a major plot point. To truly prove how bonkers and shithouse this movie really is, I leave you with this moment of true oddity below. An explanation as to how it comes about is to maddeningly stupid that I can't bare to type it. D-

Yes, that is a cavewoman in a rainforest, and that is a zebra and a kangaroo behind Madonna in that second shot. Who's That Girl is set in New York City. It's truly baffling.


Tara said...

I'm a huge fan of Madonna's music and I even like a few of her films, but I have to agree on Who's That Girl. Her squeaky voice makes me cringe and it is up there with some of the worst movies I've ever seen. Some fans seem to enjoy it, but not me!

Ben Rylan said...

I think the film went overboard with the homages to 1930s screwball. As it was an adaptation of 1938's 'Bringing Up Baby', the obvious slapstick moments weren't really necessary. It just came off as odd. Imagine if 'Clueless' had overly Jane Austen moments!?!

On another note, the weird giggle-grunt noises Madge makes in the film remind me of Pee Wee Herman.

Anonymous said...

Love the shoplifting scene though - I remember thinking when I first saw the film "mmm... so that's how it's done"... ;)