Wild Wild West (1999) (part 11 of 11)
Down below, Loveless is pleading for his life, and Jim is stupid enough to let Loveless continue shuffling his way backwards to his wheelchair. Jim brings up New Liberty, and Loveless gets all righteous and pissy. Eventually, he gets angry enough to fire the guns on his wheelchair. Ah, but Jim dodges the shot by… turning sideways? Yes, that’s right. He turns sideways and avoids the bullets, which, sadly, is the weakness of all guns. The bullets do graze his ass cheeks, because the movie desperately needed another ass joke.
But Loveless’ bullets end up hitting two pipes that just so happen to be perfectly aligned with his guns. And it looks like these pipes conveniently power the giant spider. So right when the mechanical spider is about to walk off the cliff, the spider merely leans over the edge and conveniently stops. The sudden tilt of the spider’s head knocks Loveless’ wheelchair loose, and he rolls forward to his doom, until his wheels conveniently are wedged between the pipes right at the edge. Jim is hanging onto various pipes for dear life, but he loses his grip and falls to his own would-be doom, until he conveniently grabs Loveless at the last second. Have I said conveniently enough yet in this paragraph? Conveniently conveniently bo-beniently banana fana fo feniently!
With Jim and Loveless in this precarious state, it’s time for a final round of personal jabs.
Jim: I have no idea, Dr. Loveless, I’m just as stumped as you are!
These jokes are bad enough to make me cry, except this movie has killed my soul, and I’m now incapable of feeling human emotion.
Loveless establishes that all he has to do is pull a lever on his wheelchair, and they’ll both plummet to their deaths. Jim offers to pull the lever for him. Loveless calls Jim “yella”, and for god’s sake, man, stop taunting people trying to kill you! Indeed, Jim ends up pulling the lever, which sends both of them plummeting down the cliff.
Did our hero just nobly sacrifice himself for the good of mankind? Fuck, no! He’s saved by a goddamn plot hole. Remember Mr. Knife Guy? Well, apparently his corpse is still hanging on a chain from the giant spider head, allowing Jim to grab his feet and save himself from certain doom.
And this is our hero’s breathless parting quip to Loveless: “Now that’s… a whoopin’.” No, Jim, I’ll show you a whoopin’, if you ever give me a chance.
Fade to black… and then, alas, fade back in for the film’s epilogue. We’ve returned to Promontory Point, where Grant finally drives in that golden railroad spike, surrounded by all the soldiers who failed to protect him earlier.
Afterwards, he approaches Jim and Gordon and announces he’s forming a new government branch “whose sole duty is to protect the president”, because, I guess, he’s learned that the Army just won’t cut it. He gives both of them brand new Secret Service badges. How he made Secret Service badges out in the middle of the desert, I’ll never know.
After giving Jim and Gordon instructions for their first assignment in Washington, DC, the president abandons them in the desert by taking the Wanderer himself. Yeah, I mean, there’s only limited space on that train. Why would the president make room for the country’s only two Secret Service agents? That’s just plain ridiculous!
There’s one more plot thread to wrap up, and that happens when Rita appears, dressed in a hideous pink dress, and hugs her two heroes. When Jim and Gordon try to convince Rita to come back to Washington with them (as their own personal sex slave, I presume), Rita drops the movie’s final bombshell: the guy she said was her father is not actually her father. The guy is really her husband. I’ll admit I didn’t see that one coming, though that doesn’t change the fact that Rita is a whore.
“At least you still have each other,” she says to Jim and Gordon as she leaves with her husband, who does indeed look old enough to be her father. Creeee-pyyyyy.
Now for the film’s final scene… Thank god! The movie fades into… a rock! That’s shaped like a penis! Or an extremely long middle finger! Whatever it is, it really fits this film’s sub-juvenile level of humor.
There’s a shot of Jim and Gordon, side by side, bobbing up and down, while a cheap sound effect makes it sound like they’re riding horses. As you might guess from my snarky tone, they are not actually on horses, as we’re about to see. But first, we’re left with these memorable final words.
Jim: What now, Artie?
Gordon: Mind if I ask you a question?
Jim: Actually, I do, Artie.
And with that witty dialogue, the screen pans out to show that they’re actually on top of the giant mechanical spider. Those horse sound effects and bobbing meant… what, exactly? And are they really going to ride that thing all the way to DC and not expect to terrify half the country?
The final shot is Jim and Gordon riding the spider away into the sunset. And as some of you college graduates may know, the sun sets in the west. Considering they’re in Utah, and their first assignment is in Washington, it makes me wonder if they’re going all the way around the Earth to get to DC.
And with that, the movie fades into the credits, which torture us with a hideous theme song sung by Will Smith. It serves as the perfect warning to never pop this film in the DVD drive ever again.
You’re familiar with Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West” single, yes? The video aired nonstop around the same time the movie came out. It’s included on the DVD, of course, along with a “making of” feature. If you haven’t seen the video, I recommend looking it up on the closest available video site, because it’s bad enough to justify its own recap.
Not only does it reinforce the stereotype that rap artists can’t write their own material (the song heavily samples Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”, as well as Kool Mo Dee’s own song “Wild Wild West”—what, no guest appearance by The Escape Club?), it also won that year’s Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. It also helped paved the way for the solo career of Sisqó, before he unleashed a musical horror that dealt with a particular female undergarment.
For those who haven’t seen the video yet, here’s a brief idea of what you can look forward to. The video plays as a mixture of a music video and a pseudo-sequel to the film. I use the prefix “pseudo” because the music video manages to screw up basic continuity, plot, and common sense. First, Salma Hayek reappears as Rita, only now she’s Jim’s lover/wife. Second, Loveless is still alive, and yet is able to throw a party at his mansion without drawing the attention of law enforcement. But worst of all, it’s a rap song, which is completely jarring to hear after the bulk of the soundtrack was (generic) orchestration. In the interests of time, I won’t even mention the lyrics, which feature incomprehensible lines like “Me and my partner gonna test your chest, Loveless”.
And that concludes (thankfully) this cinematic abomination in all of its craptastic glory. You’ll by now have noticed that this recap has been a pretty long one. That’s because Wild Wild West gave me so much stuff to talk about. The script is so busy and compacted, trying to do so much at one time, that it creates a thick and odorous density of idiocy, poisoning every minute of celluloid with a detail or two that insults the viewer long after the moment has passed. Worse movies may exist out there, but what makes Wild Wild West so jaw-droppingly awful is how it squandered so much potential for what looked to be a surefire summer blockbuster. And if there’s one thing that depresses me to no end, it’s wasted potential.
So how did the film actually fare when let loose into the world? When released in theaters, critics instantly latched onto the film as that year’s Hudson Hawk, carving it up like a suicidal Christmas goose. It’s also no surprise that the film won a sizable number of Razzies that year, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. The film did moderately well financially, though overall it hardly lived up to studio expectations.
And what happened to the major players in this suckfest? Director Barry Sonnenfeld somehow went on to direct several more films, including the disappointing Men in Black II and the putrid Robin Williams vehicle RV, before finding his way to television with the charming TV series Pushing Daisies. Will Smith, who’s been pretty open in interviews about how much he disliked Wild Wild West, went on to star in several successful films, even garnering an Academy Award nomination for his role as Muhammad Ali. Kevin Kline, sadly, hasn’t had many high profile gigs since, his most notable recent role being that of Inspector Dreyfus in Steve Martin’s depressingly unfunny remake of The Pink Panther.
If there’s one good thing that came out of Wild Wild West, it was from one of the film’s minor characters, namely Ms. Lippenreider. Her thickly accented reading of “Oo-tah” is so awesome that whenever that state enters conversation, I always see fit to correct everyone with the new and improved pronunciation. Also, thanks to her, I seriously considered joining up with the “Oo-Es Ah-mee”. Go ahead, rent the movie and discover this lone diamond in a rough sea of bad puns and hideous character acting. Just don’t blame me if you see fit to thrust a screwdriver into your brain afterwards.