Cecil B. Demented

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Cecil B. Demented
Cecil b demented.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Waters
Produced by Joseph M. Caracciolo, Jr.
John Fiedler
Mark Tarlov
Written by John Waters
Starring Melanie Griffith
Stephen Dorff
Alicia Witt
Adrian Grenier
Mink Stole
Ricki Lake
Larry Gilliard, Jr.
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Jack Noseworthy
Mike Shannon
Music by Basil Poledouris
Zoë Poledouris
Cinematography Robert M. Stevens
Edited by Jeffrey Wolf
Production
  company
Le Studio Canal+
Polar Entertainment
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release date(s)
  • August 11, 2000 (2000-08-11)
Running time 88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[2]
Box office $1,961,544[3]

Cecil B. Demented is a 2000 American black comedy film written and directed by John Waters. The film stars Melanie Griffith as a snobby A-list Hollywood actress who is kidnapped by a band of terrorist filmmakers who force her to star in their underground film. Stephen Dorff stars as the eponymous character and leader of the group, with Alicia Witt, Adrian Grenier, Michael Shannon, and Maggie Gyllenhaal co-starring as the rest of his gang of filmmakers. Each of the filmmakers in the film bears tattoos of various underground directors' names, including Otto Preminger, Kenneth Anger, Sam Peckinpah, David Lynch, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Spike Lee, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pedro Almodóvar, and Andy Warhol.[4]

The title of the film (also the name of Dorff's character) alludes to legendary director Cecil B. DeMille. The film is loosely based on the 1974 kidnapping of Patricia Hearst and like all of Waters' films, was shot in Baltimore, Maryland; Hearst has a cameo role. The film was given a limited release in North American cinemas on August 11, 2000. It was released to home media through Artisan, and later, Lionsgate Home Entertainment in the United States.

For her role as Honey Whitlock, Griffith was nominated for Worst Actress at the 2000 Golden Raspberry Awards. Despite the lukewarm response from critics, the film has attained something of a cult status in later years.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

Honey Whitlock is a Hollywood A-list actress whose public persona is that of a sweet and considerate woman, but who is, in reality, profane, unreasonable, and demanding. While in Baltimore to attend a premiere, Honey is kidnapped by the manic film director, Cecil B. Demented and his band of misfit, Andy Warhol–worshiping artists who have branded themselves "kamikaze filmmakers", going by the group name "SprocketHoles". Each of the SprocketHoles has infiltrated the staff of the theater where the premiere is to take place; they subsequently kidnap Honey as she concludes her remarks on stages. In the ensuing mayhem, the group escapes.

Honey is taken to an abandoned movie theater where she is kept captive. Honey is introduced to Cecil's crew of outlandish followers, all of whom have the names of famous filmmakers tattooed on themselves as well as their own uniquely outlandish quirks. Cecil explains that he wants to make his masterpiece film and needs Honey to star as the lead. Honey first resists and shoots scenes with no emotion, but when Cecil demands better results, Honey gives an over the top performance in the film's opening scene which pleases him. Apart from the first scene Cecil, Honey and the crew run around the city filming scenes at real (unapproved) locations, often involving innocent bystanders in the process.

The group's first location is a luncheon being hosted by the Baltimore Film Commission. The group crashes the event and Cecil orders Honey to jump off the roof of a nearby building, which she does without safety measures. A gunfight ensues between Cecil's crew and the police. As gunfire is exchanged, Rodney the hairdresser is killed and Cecil is wounded. Honey uses the opportunity to turn herself into the authorities and they take her away in a police car but she is retrieved soon after.

As Honey seems to become more comfortable with her situation, possibly developing Stockholm syndrome, she watches a television special discussing her disappearance. Persons who knew her, including her ex-husband, are interviewed and come clean about how mean-spirited she truly was. Honey now realizes that her desire to escape would only lead her back to Hollywood, where she is hated for being rude. She resists the idea of joining Cecil's followers but changes her mind and declares herself "Demented forever", burning a brand into her arm and officially joining the motley crew.

After these events, the crew invades the set of the Forrest Gump sequel being filmed in Baltimore, at Honey's suggestion. When the crew arrives, they subdue and replace many of the film's crew. A gunfight breaks out between Cecil's friends and Teamsters who got free. Members of Cecil's crew are either killed or wounded. The surviving SprocketHoles and Honey flee to a nearby pornographic theater and seek refuge inside. The audience helps Cecil escape.

At their last location, Cecil is shooting the final scene at a local drive-in while law enforcement are alerted. Cecil and the crew take over the projection room and he proceeds to excite the crowd into a frenzy. He asks Honey to light her hair on fire for the final shot (which she does). With the film finished, the SprocketHoles start having sex in public before the authorities step in. Cecil sets himself completely ablaze as police arrive, to give Honey a chance to run away. In the ensuing chaos, some crew members escape with the raw film footage while others are shot. Honey is taken into custody and is taken aback by the new affection and devotion people have for her as she goes into the police van.

Cast[edit]

*Denote the director's name tattooed on the characters.

Release[edit]

The film was screened out of competition at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

Reception[edit]

Roger Ebert gave the film one and a half stars out of four, remarking that it was like "a home movie [with] a bunch of kids goofing off",[6] while others such as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said "DeMented is Waters the way we like him—spiked with laughs and served with a twist".[7]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 51% of critics gave Cecil B. Demented positive reviews, based on 78 reviews; the consensus states "The idea behind John Waters' latest has much potential, but the movie ends up being too sloppy and underdeveloped in terms of script and direction. Also, by today's standards, it fails to shock."[8] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 57 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.[9]

Box office[edit]

Cecil B. Demented was a box office failure, grossing a mere $1,961,544[3] from an estimated $10 million budget.[2]

Soundtrack[edit]

Alternate theatrical poster

The soundtrack was released August 8, 2000 by RCA Records.

  1. "Opening Credit Theme" – Moby
  2. "Nice Tranquil Thumbs in Mouth" – The Locust
  3. "Bankable Bitch" – DJ Class and Teflon the Bull
  4. "Upstart" – Meatjack
  5. "Everyday" – Substance D
  6. "No Budget" – DJ Class and Mayo
  7. "Broadway Brouhaha"
  8. "Loopy" – XXXBombshell
  9. "An Extra Piece of Dead Meat" – The Locust
  10. "Demented Forever" – Karen McMillan
  11. "Seduction" – The Sex-o-Rama Band
  12. "Ciao!" – Liberace
  13. "Cow" – Jerome Dillon

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CECIL B. DEMENTED (18)". Momentum Pictures. British Board of Film Classification. November 16, 2000. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Cecil B. Demented (2000) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Cecil B. Demented at Box Office Mojo Retrieved October 25, 2013
  4. ^ Cecil B. Demented (VHS/DVD). Artisan Entertainment.  Revealed in the film as each character is introduced to Honey Whitlock, a close-up of their individual tattoos are shown.
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Cecil B. Demented". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (18 August 2000). "Cecil B. Demented". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  7. ^ Travers, Peter (December 10, 2000). "Cecil B. Demented review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  8. ^ "Cecil B. Demented Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 22, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Cecil B. DeMented (2000): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 22, 2008. 

External links[edit]