My father is having his Super Bowl party today. In my family, Super Bowl is big. It’s an event. It’s bigger than Christmas, because more people show up and my drunkest cousin doesn’t put on a Santa suit. The Super Bowl party has been going on since before I was born. When I was younger, there were usually about 90 or something people crammed into the house, and when I woke up for school the next morning, the most hardcore of the group – my father, my grandfather, my godfather, and my cousins Michael and Robert – would still be up playing poker. The party is a little smaller these days and I have no idea if people are still awake at 6am, but it’s still a big deal and there is no other option for me on Super Bowl Sunday.
Because all of my weekend drinking will be done today, I stayed in on Friday and last night. There was the obvious issue of not wanting to be a falling down drunk for three days in a row, but also it’s fucking cold and snowy out and I’ve spent enough money on groceries this week (I still managed to forget the eggs and sour cream for my sister’s birthday cake, naturally) so I don’t need to give any of it to a bar.
Instead of drinking last night, I signed up for Last.fm and watched Netflix. This is how come I ended up watching the first half of The Chaos Experiment (also called The Steam Experiment), and how come I became angry at the way the world has treated Val Kilmer.
Well. Maybe not the world. In the grand scheme of things, the world has treated Val Kilmer pretty well. He was born attractive and talented enough to make a hell of a lot of money and he still gets work. But it’s the kind of work he gets now that he’s older and…not as fit as he used to be that causes me dismay, because with Netflix Instant, I have complete access to the shitstorm that is this guy’s career now.
Before I get into just how terrible The Chaos Experiment is (and keep in mind that I can only tell you about half the terribleness because it was so bad that I turned it off before the second half started), let me say this: I like Val Kilmer. With the exception of Batman Forever, I’m a fan of his earlier work. Up until the mid-2000’s (after Wonderland and The Salton Sea, which was passable but it has Vincent D’Onofrio as a crazy noseless meth kingpin, and if that doesn’t interest you then I don’t know what you’re doing here), I could agree with Chuck Klosterman in that Val Kilmer was one of my favorite working actors. And, erm, it’s not just because he’s nice to look at. (Speaking of that, I think he’s still nice to look at. Yes, he’s older and looks sort of inflated, but I’m attracted to talent and he still looks like himself, mostly.)
So. The Chaos Experiment. What a load of garbage that is. The plot: a former professor (Val Kilmer) reads the books of some conspiracy theorist-scientist and becomes convinced that the world will end in 2012. The time of apocalypse is per the Mayans, but the method is now global warming. And because Val Kilmer wants this information published on the front page (“above the fold!”) of his local paper, he has locked 6 people in a Turkish steam room and will keep them there until his request is granted. Keeping them there for two hours will kill them, by the way, which will illustrate the effect of global warming. Oh, and the local paper is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which everyone knows is a hotbed of scientific theory.
If that storyline doesn’t blow your fucking mind, I don’t know what will.
What I saw, in order:
1. Val Kilmer lying catatonic on a hospital bed. Shot from above, he looks like a sweaty corpse with neck rolls.
2. A blurry merry-go-round with carnival music. Just when you’re convinced it’s a regular merry-go-round, Val Kilmer comes around the bend, staring straight out from the ride.
3. Val Kilmer – wearing a turtleneck now, thank god – goes to the local paper’s office to meet with the editor and reveal his master plan. This is probably the first sensical part of the movie and is not awful.
4. Armand Assante is getting drunk in a bar.
5. Anticipating that Val Kilmer is a little more than he can handle, the editor calls Armand Assante, who is apparently a cop.
6. A cop who drives DRUNK, because he’s sucked down like four martinis and looks hammered but drives over to the newspaper office, anyway.
7. When faced with the editor and the cop, Val Kilmer goes a little cray-cray when he elaborates on global warming and the fact that he’s locking people up in a steam room somewhere.
8. Again, Val Kilmer on a hospital bed.
9. Again, Val Kilmer on a merry-go-round.
10. What the fuck?
11. While Armand Assante and the editor (who looks like Harmony Korine, which annoys me immediately) are looking up local steam rooms, we the viewers are privileged enough to know that the steam room in question is in fact in Turkey. We know this because of the weird music and Middle Eastern-ish motifs in the blurry, warped shots of the bath.
12. All of the steam room people file into the room. All of them look like assholes.
13. Case in point: the first one is Eric Roberts. Another one is Patrick Muldoon (aka that dick pilot from Starship Troopers).
14. For some fucking reason, the steam room people start introducing themselves, and one has the brilliant idea that everyone should go around the room and tell a little story about their life. Because I was raised Catholic and therefore don’t do public nudity, I find it incomprehensible that anyone in a Turkish steam room would shake hands with anyone else in the room, let alone initiate conversation. Dirty hippies.
15. With the exception of Eric Roberts and Patrick Muldoon, it’s hard to tell the difference between the steam room people because everything is too fucking blurry. Filmmakers, there’s a difference between being arty and being a douchebag. Learn it.
16. Armand Assante chauffers Val Kilmer somewhere. I don’t know where, because this is where I stopped watching.
The Chaos Experiment might not be completely unwatchable, but I wouldn’t know. As hard as it is for me to watch bad movies, it’s harder to watch a decent actor have to be in them. That, I think, is the biggest problem with recent Val Kilmer movies. It’s not that they’re shit, it’s that this is the kind of work he’s forced to take. What is it, movie people? Is it because he’s older? Fatter? Has tax problems? He can’t be that cheap to get. If you have to reduce him to these parts, could you at least make your movie not suck? His name will get me to watch (because I am sometimes ruled by my privates, sue me), but constructing a piece of garbage around his name is just embarrassing.
And the above is why I shouldn’t be allowed to stay home by myself on weekends. I’ll still like Val Kilmer no matter what, but there’s no reason for me to become this emotionally invested in his career choices.
Unless he wants to hang out or something. Then I totally care.