Julia Roberts is one of the highest-paid human beings in America. The simple presence of her toothsome smile on a movie poster is worth millions upon millions of dollars. Hollywood producers mercilessly flog whole platoons of pathetic screenwriters into bloody, heaving wrecks, 24 hours a day, forcing them to scribble out scripts that have but one hopeful objective: Get Julia to say yes!
Brad Pitt is the sexiest man alive, ever. But he's also unpredictable. While his boyish smile and bristling six-pack may inspire lewd thoughts in women and men of all persuasions, he's a genuine risk-taker, apt to go for challenging roles in daring films such as Fight Club even as he pays the bills with slick dross like Meet Joe Black. He's got staying power that Leo can only dream ofand studio execs lust after.
Combined, these two blazing suns in the Hollywood galaxy have more charisma, sex appeal, and pure physical beauty than the combined populations of most major American cities. To cast them together in one movie would surely create a supernova of blinding star power. Failure would simply not be possible. Why, it would take a roomful of CRAY T3E-900 supercomputers over a year to come up with a project that could simultaneously unite these two forces of nature and extinguish all traces of their charm.
Yet, that's precisely what Dreamworks SKG has miraculously achieved with The Mexicanan interminable epic of rehash that offers absolutely nothing to see. No romance, no laughter, no surprises, no thrills, no tension, no tears, no deeper understanding of the human condition. The Mexican is two hours and 15 minutes of such excruciating cinematic misery that you'll be praying for Julia's and Brad's characters to complete a suicide pact just to end the damn movie. It's one of those films that have gone wrong on an atomic level, radiating pure negative energy.
First, there's the story: Jerry (Pitt) is indentured to a gangster boss after rear-ending his car; thus, he must deliver various items for the don's gang even though he's not particularly good at it. (Kind of like that episode-within-an-episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry gets a court-appointed butler after a traffic accident.) His girlfriend, Samantha (Roberts), doesn't like this at all and dumps Jerry after he's forced to do one more job: He must go pick up an antique gun in Mexico and bring it back. Naturally, he screws this mission up, and the mob decides to ensure his success by sending a hitman (James Gandolfini) to hold Samantha until Jerry comes back with the goods. The wrinkle here is that the gun in question is cursed, see, and whoever keeps it gets into big trouble. So a number of people get gruesomely shot and killed. Let the hilarity commence!
It's often said that movie critics don't give enough credit to screenwriters, but let me correct that injustice right now: All the blame for The Mexican's wretchedness falls directly at the feet of its scriptor, J. H. Wyman. It's as if this former cast member of Pacific Palisades (yet another piece of wreckage from Aaron Spelling's quality TV crap factory) finally got around to renting Pulp Fiction and had the same epiphany that 3 million other film school grads enjoyed seven years ago: "I will write a darkly comedic tale of romance amid ironic gangster gunplay. And I will include a lovable hitman!" A good indicator of Wyman's comedic innovations is the thigh-slapping sequence in which Jerry tries to talk to some truck-driving, unshaven Mexicans by SPEAKING REAL LOUD and inserting an "-o" after certain words. Watching Pitt struggle to make something new out of such old bullshit is agonizing.
Of course, we can't feel too sorry for Pitt and Roberts. After all, they're both equipped with entire armies of agents, managers, script readers, personal assistants, lawyers, and hired family members, all of whom are devoted to helping their celebrity masters make the best possible script choices. The final decision to join The Mexican must have been their own, and they both gamely attempt to have fun. Perhaps they thought it'd be a romp; unfortunately, TV commercial director Gore Verbinski (the Bud frogs guy) composes every scene with such flat earnestness, it's as if he thought he was directing a soon-to-be classic of immortal drama (please note the indulgent 135-minute runtime). Worse, Pitt and Roberts only share a few minutes of mutual screentime, so any powers of magnetism that could've been mustered are immediately squelched. That leaves Gandolfini to interact with Roberts, and although he does a fine goodfella (as in the hyper-acclaimed The Sopranos), you get the feeling that he's walked in this character's shoes for a long, long time and would really like to take a nap.
I suppose DreamWorks should be considered culpable just for bankrolling The Mexican, but what's a studio to do when the nation's sweetheart and its resident stud both say yes? Let us save our ire for the man who actually dreamt up this gruelingly derivative waste of time: J. H. Wyman. J. H. Wyman. J. H. Wyman. May he spend eternity watching his own movie.