Wild Wild West (1999) (part 6 of 11)
Since everyone at the party is deaf, no one heard the gunshots, so Jim returns to the party without drawing any undue attention. He finds the girl he believes to be Gordon and has a lengthy conversation with her. Then, because he still thinks it’s Gordon, and because it’s so very hilarious, he drums his hands across what he thinks are fake breasts, but are actually her real breasts.
The girl slaps Jim across the face, and several Southern gents point their guns at him—because everyone in the South carries a gun, of course. Mountaineer Gordon seems to find some kind of strange opportunity in this, and calls for Jim to be hanged. He just happens to have a rope, too, which he tosses into the crowd, and the entire party empties outside with Jim led at gunpoint. Ooh, lynching humor. It’s really an untapped goldmine of comedy, I think.
As he’s being led out, Jim decides to remedy the situation in his own unique way.
Jim: Never drum on a white lady’s boobies at a big redneck dance. Got it. Woo, I’m sure glad we got that cleared up.
Meanwhile, Gordon is still inside the mansion, and he heads for the room where he heard Hayek scream earlier. He enters the room and finds an elaborate system of chains and pulleys attached to Loveless’ bed. Hey, when he’s got no legs or genitalia, a man’s gotta find a way to make it happen, know what I’m saying?
Gordon also finds Hayek locked in a cage, and proceeds to use one of his gadgets to set her free. Unremarkable conversation reveals that Hayek’s character is named Rita, and not much else.
Cut to outside, where the rope is now a noose hanging from a tree. Jim stands on a wagon beside the noose. Before he can be hung, he whistles to get everyone’s attention. He wants to make a speech, and amazingly, everyone in this bloodthirsty crowd decides to listen.
With everyone’s undivided attention, Jim attempts to explain that he drummed the woman’s breasts because, in Africa, drums were used as a form of communication. His speech is beyond stupid, and I have a strong suspicion Will Smith improvised a great deal of it.
After more idiotic attempts at jokingly explaining his actions, he finally turns to the girl and does the sensible thing: he asks her to marry him. When this brilliant plan doesn’t go over too well, he instead reveals he thought she was a man. The girl then faints. She faints? Is she a) relieved; b) angry; or c) unsuccessfully trying to make this joke funny? [Editor’s Note: The actress is Debra Christofferson, who was also the bearded lady from HBO’s Carnivàle. So, come on, was Jim really that far off-base here? —Albert]
The lynching is suddenly broken up when Gordon and Rita ride through the crowd on a horse-drawn carriage. During the ensuing ruckus, Jim grabs onto the noose as the wagon beneath him pulls away, and we discover that the rope (provided by Gordon, if you’ll recall) is actually elastic. I have to wonder how the Southerners somehow missed this detail while tying the noose. Jim seizes the opportunity to use the elastic rope as a slingshot, and launches himself onto the fleeing carriage, and yes, this looks just as stupid as it sounds.
As they make their getaway, the president’s “best men” find time to argue with each other once more, this time about Gordon’s unusual strategy that involved getting his partner lynched. But then Rita drops a bombshell: Her real reason for being in Loveless’ mansion is because she’s searching for her father, who’s one of the missing scientists. Jim couldn’t care less. He hops on one of the horses and unhooks it from the carriage, and gallops on ahead to the place Loveless marked on his map.
Cut to a large steamboat in the middle of a lake, where Loveless and McGrath are standing in front of the foreign ministers from the party. Clunky exposition brings up the name “New Liberty”, which makes Mr. Ear Trumpet squeamish. Loveless goads McGrath into revealing his full nickname to the audience: “Bloodbath McGrath, the Butcher of New Liberty”. It’s an obvious attempt to shoehorn in some character development for McGrath, which surely means he’s about to die.
Cut to the nearby shoreline, where McGrath’s men, a large group of Confederate soldiers, wait for something to arrive.
We’re forced to sit through what this movie considers “suspense”, until finally, something does arrive. Namely, a large tank-like vehicle that emerges from the lake like a submarine, despite some obvious holes in the armor.
The Confederates cheer in jubilation as the tank rolls among the troops in a display of warmth and goodwill. And then, of course, it suddenly opens fire on them, spraying them with 360-degree cannon fire. McGrath seizes this moment for more character development. Watching from the boat, he yells that Loveless has betrayed him. Loveless responds that it is in fact McGrath who betrayed him, along with Robert E. Lee, by surrendering at Appomattox, even though Loveless had created a dazzling array of weapons to help the Confederate Army.
The two argue back and forth with forgettable dialogue until McGrath pulls a gun. But Loveless uses a conveniently (I’ve used that word a lot, haven’t I?) aimed rear gun on his wheelchair to shoot McGrath instead.
Mr. Ear Trumpet falls to the ground, and at that exact moment, a small white dog jumps out of the lap of one of the foreign ministers. The dog approaches the dead general for the sole purpose of using McGrath’s ear trumpet to reenact Francis Barraud’s famous painting “His Master’s Voice” (better known as the RCA logo). And if someone’s not familiar with the painting or the logo, they’ll have to just scratch their heads at why a dog is curious about the pooling earwax in McGrath’s trumpet.
Loveless’ girls toss McGrath’s body overboard, while Loveless turns to the foreign ministers and tells them he has a weapon more powerful than the tank, which he intends to use to defeat the United States.
His demonstration of the tank’s capabilities complete, Loveless then departs the boat with his ladies, heading for the shore. Oh, and just to hammer in how evil Loveless is, you remember those Confederates killed by the tank? An aerial shot reveals they were camped on a giant bullseye mowed into the grass. Is everyone in this movie a complete idiot?
Cut to the tank rolling onto railroad tracks, hooking up with an armored train car, and riding away into the night. You know, with all these trains riding around as they please, it’s amazing there aren’t a lot more train collisions in this universe.
Jim arrives on the scene just a tad bit too late, and sees the dead Confederate soldiers lying about. Sad music lets us know that Jim is distressed by what he sees. Several moments later, Gordon and Rita arrive to see the slaughter as well. So… what was the point of Jim riding on ahead, again?
Gordon surveys the carnage, wondering aloud what could cause such bloodshed. Jim stares blankly, and gives a vague description of a machine he heard about from “survivors”. In a speech that’s supposed to be poignant and haunting (but isn’t), Jim talks about a similar massacre at a town called New Liberty. Apparently, it was a free slave town. So, you see, that’s why Jim has been hell-bent on hunting down McGrath. I mean, since Jim is a freed slave, surely he can only care about avenging crimes against other freed slaves.
Cue someone moaning nearby, and it turns out to be Mr. Ear Trumpet on the edge of the lake. Apparently, being shot didn’t put a damper on his swimming abilities. Jim calmly approaches the wounded general, because now that he’s revealed the reason for his vengeance, he can now show some cliché… er, mercy.
As Jim and McGrath exchange words, McGrath reveals that it was Loveless who was the killer at New Liberty, not him. Then he dies… finally! Goodnight, Mr. Ear Trumpet. May angels sing thee to thy rest and clean out your goddamn ear wax. Jim instantly believes McGrath, because there’s no reason to doubt the word of a wanted kidnapper and murderer. So his quest for vengeance continues, only now he has to go after Loveless instead. Speaking of whom, where did that guy roll off to?
The answer lies with Rita, whom the movie decides to make useful here, if only for a fleeting moment. She tells our heroes something she overheard from Ms. Lippenreider, while Hayek mimics that glorious accent that I love so much:
So Loveless is heading for “Oo-tah”… er, I mean, Utah… no, screw that, I’m calling it Oo-tah from now on! Oh, and remember where President Grant said he was heading for the joining of the two railroads? Ahh, it’s all coming together now, isn’t it?
With yet another destination in mind, they head back to the Wanderer, where Conductor Coleman is reading… a corset catalog. I guess in the days before Penthouse, men had to improvise. Jim tells Coleman to head to Oo-tah (how specific), while Gordon whines about how they’re not taking Rita along with them.
And where is Rita? She’s standing outside the train, looking like a puppy that can’t go with its master on a Sunday drive. As the train begins to pull away, Gordon and Rita share passionate glances through a window. And by passionate, I mean painful. Accompanied by swelling music to make your stomach churn painful. Hearing Rita whisper “Artie” in a way to make your eyes roll out of your skull kind of painful. Sweet Jesus, I want to punch someone in the face.
The scene then shifts to a few moments later, where Gordon is cooking the evening meal in a chef’s outfit (cultured, smart, all that same shit). It’s here he ponders aloud a very important question: what would Loveless, who has no dick, want with Rita? (Or words to that effect.)
Just then, Rita arrives inside the cabin. By which I mean, she literally drops out of the sky, down through that trapdoor spring contraption that was established earlier. You know, I really don’t care how or why.
Rita lands in the chair next to Jim, just as Gordon starts waxing eloquently about her tits and ass. Naturally, when Gordon realizes Rita is there, listening to his soft-core porn novel, he “hilariously” changes the subject to the foreign ministers in Loveless’ company. Luckily for Gordon, Rita doesn’t make a fuss about this, and instead starts sampling his food. Eventually, she reveals that she knows something about the foreign ministers. How convenient… Sorry. For some reason, I keep using that word.
Rita starts babbling stuff about the Louisiana Purchase and Queen Isabella of Spain. Jim quickly gets sick of Rita’s “help”. Calling her a “distraction”, he tries to get Coleman to stop the train to drop her off. Rita pleads her case to stay, primarily by suddenly making out with Jim.
“Artie” is jealous and pulls Rita away, assuring her she’s safe within the walls of the Wanderer. To prove how safe she is, he shows her billiard balls that release sleeping gas when the numbers are pressed. Except, that doesn’t really make her safe and has nothing to do with the current topic of conversation. God, the foreshadowing in this movie is so obvious. They’re foreshadowing the foreshadowing.