Wild Wild West (1999) (part 5 of 11)

Cut to a mansion, where guests are arriving at the party in their horse-drawn carriages. As one carriage departs, Jim falls down from the underside and rolls across the ground—where people can clearly see him, thus defeating the purpose of hiding underneath the carriage. After an unremarkable encounter with a guard, Jim climbs up the outside wall of the mansion to a second floor balcony, entering through a conveniently open door.

As Jim passes through, he hears a commotion in a neighboring room, and covertly investigates. He sees three of the lovely ladies who accompanied Kenneth Branagh in West Virginia walk in with… hey, isn’t that the uber-hottie saloon girl that Kline shoved away back at Fat-Can’s? Why, yes it is. And lookie here, she’s played by Salma Hayek, whose performance in this film rings with the conviction and energy of a microwaved chicken nugget.

The other three girls are trying to convince her to be a bondage girl for Branagh, something she strangely resists, considering she was working as a whore back at Fat-Can’s. Jim, ever the hero of the damsel in distress, walks out without batting an eye.

Caption contributed by Gareth

Whatever you imagine going on here is sure to have an infinitely better plot than this movie.

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Jim emerges in the main hall where the costume party is being held, where another one of Branagh’s women approaches him. Jim introduces himself as “West. Jim West.” Will Smith, you are no Sean Connery. You aren’t even the man now, dog!

The woman, played by Chinese actress and red carpet trainwreck Bai Ling, returns the introduction: “West meets East. Mae Lee East.” Now all we need is Madame South and Lady North, and Jim can have a menage a quatre.

Jim cuts to the chase and asks if Ms. East has seen Mr. Ear Trumpet. She uses her response to clumsily slip in a mention of “Dr. Arliss Loveless”, a guy thought to be dead, and the one who’s throwing the party. Hmm, you don’t think a supposedly dead Southerner might be behind that nefarious plot against the U.S.? Nah, too obvious.

Caption contributed by Albert

“Well, that outfit sure does make me understand how you singlehandedly coined the term ‘fug’.”

The two of them head down the stairs and into the party. Several spider web decorations, complete with live spiders, are all around the house, making sure you don’t miss the subtle hints regarding this Loveless character. They see a woman in a mask, whom Jim believes is Gordon in his saloon girl disguise. Boy, he won’t be wrong about that, will he?

Ms. East finally leaves Jim to himself, and we move on to a really ridiculous scene (relatively speaking, of course).

A string quartet plays on a stage that makes it look like they’re inside a painting (remember that for later). They’re playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, while all four of Branagh’s women sing along. [Editor’s Note: Besides Bai Ling, there’s also Musetta Vander, who was in that Voyager episode where Harry Kim fell in love with her and discovered that interspecies sex was somehow against Starfleet rules; there’s also Frederique Van Der Wal, former Victoria’s Secret model and Mole; and of course, Miss Lippenreider, Sofia Eng, whose claim to fame appears to be doing celebrity interviews on Swedish TV. —Albert]

From behind a spider web curtain (more subtlety!) comes a parade float. And on the front of the float is a giant Abraham Lincoln head, and the Lincoln figure is sitting in a box shaped like his booth in Ford’s Theater. Which explains why the head explodes as soon as the song is finished. Hilarity!

Caption contributed by Gareth

Abe auditions for a role in Scanners.

After the audience soils their Confederate flag underwear at this display, guess who pops up into the wreckage of the Lincoln-head like a demented Whack-a-Mole™? Yep, it’s Kenneth Branagh, AKA Dr. Arliss Loveless. He rhetorically asks his startled audience if they hate that song as much as he does. And let me tell you, Branagh is doing the most overdone fake Southern accent this side of Larry the Cable Guy. It’s ridiculously over the top.

He then steps out… ahem, he wheels out of the remains of the float. It seems Loveless isn’t half the man he used to be, since he only has half a body and rides around on a wheelchair. A steam-powered wheelchair, no less. And obviously, the movie is using that newfangled Lt. Dan technology to digitally remove Branagh’s legs.

Oh, and did you see that funny I just made? “Half the man he used to be”? Well, Loveless tries to outdo me by telling everyone he is “alive and kicking. Well, alive, anyway.” You can all groan now.

He then launches into a ridiculously overacted speech about all the injuries he sustained in the war, and how he lost half his body as well as his “ability to reproduce!” He then acknowledges the presence of several foreign dignitaries, just so we know they’re there. He then spins around wildly and declares that the festivities may resume.

Caption contributed by Albert

“For god’s sake, I was Henry V! Now look at me!”

He then notices Jim and approaches him. Now it’s time for one of the “highlights” of this film, as Jim and Loveless effortlessly trade words while slipping in double entendre insults. Allow me to grade their respective disses.

Loveless: Mr. West. How nice of you to join us tonight and add… color to these monochromatic proceedings.

7 out of 10. Nice and subtle. Well, at least more subtle than most of the “jokes” in this movie. Jim, your response?

Jim: Well, when a fella comes back from the dead, I find that an occasion to stand up… be counted.

6 out of 10. A decent retort, though it needed more punch. Round two!

Loveless: Ms. East informs me you expected to see General McGrath here. Well, I knew him years ago, but I haven’t seen him… in a… coon’s age.

3 out of 10. Using blatantly obvious racial epithets, are we? This is already deteriorating.

Jim: Well, I can see how it’d be difficult for a man of your stature to keep in touch with even… half the people you know.

1 out of 10. Two bad jokes for the price of one, and the second one ruins the nuance of the first.

Loveless: Well, perhaps the lovely Ms. East will keep you from being a slaaave to your disappointment.

-5 out of 10. Ugh, he’s not even trying anymore. Jim, can you save us with a clever reply? Please?

Jim: Well, you know beautiful women: they encourage you one minute and… cut the legs out from under you the next.

-42 out of 10. I’m not even going to deem that worthy of a response. And neither does Loveless, because he excuses himself and departs, probably to get some fresh material for the next Yo Momma episode.

Seeing as how Loveless made it clear that he no longer keeps in touch with McGrath, we of course see Mr. Ear Trumpet standing outside Loveless’ study, in full view of everyone at the party. Jim follows Loveless—also in plain sight, obviously—while stopping for a moment to say something unimportant to the saloon girl whom he thinks is Gordon. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to discover that the saloon girl is actually a woman, whereas Gordon is beside her, dressed as a mountaineer with a bad French accent.

Caption contributed by Gareth

The poor girl is horrified when told by the director that she looks like Kevin Kline dressed as a woman.

Jim approaches Loveless’ study door and listens in, apparently deciding not to go in and “capture” the very man he came here to find. Inside the study, McGrath bemoans the loss of the nitro for his men—you know, the same nitro that Loveless used to blow up Fat-Can’s?

Loveless assures Mr. Ear Trumpet he’ll get his weapons, provided he and his men meet him at a specified point that night. Loveless then marks the meeting point on a hand-drawn map on his desk. With this decided upon, the two leave the study.

Jim, terrified he might actually catch McGrath instead of continuing a pointless cross-country pursuit, hides and lets the two of them slip out of the party. Foiled again by his need to keep the movie going, Jim breaks into Loveless’ study to find out where they’re heading.

A quick shot to Gordon shows him wandering around the party. Suddenly, he hears Salma Hayek screaming for help upstairs. And just like at the saloon, no one else at the party notices her very loud cries. Are all the extras in this film deaf?

Cut back to Jim in Loveless’ study. He’s rubbing a piece of charcoal across a sheet of paper on Loveless’ desk, recreating a perfect copy of Loveless’ map. This is when Ms. East casually enters the study, and instead of demanding to know what he’s doing there, she instead strips down to her corset. Jim sees nothing unusual about this. Jim is an idiot.

East and West (kill me) start making out while spouting inane dialogue. There’s a gratuitous close-up of Bai Ling’s ass cheeks as she asks Jim if he’s here to “poke around”. And I think we can all agree this movie needed a sodomy joke to complete its extensive collection of puerile “humor”, am I right?

As all of this happens, the giant painting behind Jim starts to come alive. There’s a guy standing in the painting (don’t ask me how) and he points his rifle at Jim. So, Loveless hires someone to stand motionless in a painting in case someone breaks into his study? I hope this job includes health insurance that covers varicose veins. And why didn’t the guy just shoot Jim as soon as he started “poking around” and doing his charcoal frottage?

This oversight is compounded when Ms. East’s wandering eyes give away the guy in the painting, allowing Jim to dodge the bullet at the last second. In yet another James Bond-esque moment, Ms. East ends up taking the bullet instead.

Jim quickly whips out his pistol, and shoots the guy who tried to shoot him. He then fires several more shots around the room and walks out in a huff. As he leaves, we see the bodies of four other painting guards fall dead. So wait, none of these guys thought to shoot the intruder in Loveless’ office? Really? The joke is pounded into our skulls further when a fifth body falls from the ceiling, even though Jim never even fired in that direction.

Multi-Part Article: Wild Wild West (1999)

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