Idle Hands

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Idle Hands
Idle Hands poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRodman Flender
Produced by
  • Andrew Licht
  • Jeffrey A. Mueller
  • Jennifer Todd
  • Suzanne Todd
Written by
  • Terri Hughes
  • Ron Milbauer
Music byGraeme Revell
CinematographyChristopher Baffa
Edited byStephen E. Rivkin
  • Licht/Mueller Film Corporation
  • Team Todd
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • April 30, 1999 (1999-04-30)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$25 million[2]
Box office$4.2 million[2]

Idle Hands is a 1999 American horror comedy film directed by Rodman Flender, written by Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer, and starring Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jessica Alba, and Vivica A. Fox. The main plot follows the life of an average lazy stoner teenager, Anton Tobias (Sawa), whose hand becomes possessed and goes on a killing spree, even after being cut off from his arm.

The film's title is based on the saying "idle hands are the Devil's play-things" or "idle hands do the Devil's work".[3] The film was a critical and commercial failure, grossing a little over $4 million from an estimated $25 million budget.


Lazy stoner teenager Anton Tobias' parents wind up dead on Halloween, with all the clues pointing to him. After killing his best friends Pnub and Mick, Anton realizes that his right hand has become possessed. Unable to control his hand, Anton throws his cat across the street and while searching for it, he encounters his neighbor Molly and the two start a relationship. Anton holds a funeral for his parents and friends. However, Pnub and Mick decide not to go to heaven, returning to their former bodies and rising from the grave.

Meanwhile, a druidic high priestess named Debi LeCure is hunting the spirit responsible for killings across the country. After his hand kills two cops in his living room, Anton cuts it off with a cleaver. Pnub and Mick seek out a First-Aid Kit while Anton traps the hand in a microwave, burning it. Meanwhile, Debi (now along with Randy, Anton's neighbor) hunts Anton down to put a stop to the possessed hand. After sending Molly to the school dance, Anton returns home to finish off the hand. Unfortunately Pnub and Mick inadvertently release the hand. The three then steal Randy's truck and head to the school. Mick and Pnub go to the Halloween dance to watch over Molly, while Anton looks for the hand. Randy and Debi meet up with Anton. Debi explains that the hand will drag Molly's soul into the netherworld. Anton crashes the dance and tries to warn everyone about his hand, but is ignored.

The hand then scalps the band's lead singer and causes a panic. Molly and her friend Tanya escape through the vents. They attempt to go through a fan, which they have stopped with Tanya's shoe, but Tanya gets hung on the rope, Molly tries to pulls Tanya off the fan and Anton's hand ends up removing Tanya's shoe, allowing her to be pulled to her death in the fan. Molly then runs into the art room, causing her to get knocked out. Anton enters and fights with the hand while it is inside a puppet but it escapes to the auto shop, where Molly is strapped to a car in her bra and panties, being raised toward the ceiling. Anton, Mick, and Pnub fight with the hand over the controls. Mick finds a mechanic's bong and he and Pnub smoke "for strength". Anton blows some smoke into the hand (still inside a hand-puppet) until it drops the controls and they save Molly. Debi throws a ritual knife into the hand, stopping it in a puff of smoke and fire. She and Randy take off for "ritualistic sex." Anton releases Molly from the top of the car, they go under the car and start making out. In the process of lighting the bong for Mick, Pnub accidentally hits the controls for the car, and Anton is crushed by the car.

In the film's conclusion, Anton is in a body-cast in the hospital, having given up heaven to stay with Molly, and Mick and Pnub are now his Guardian Angels. When he is left alone in his room, Anton looks up and sees the message "I am under the bed" written on the ceiling.



Box office[edit]

The film opened on April 30, 1999, in 1,611 theaters. It grossed $1.8 million during its first week, and then a total of just over $4 million on a budget of $20–25 million, making it a box office flop.[4][5]

Production note[edit]

An elaborate swimming pool sequence utilizing a large pool model, "wall of hands" and a "hell hole" visual was initially planned as the film's final "hand" encounter. However, initial post viewing tests suggested the ending didn't quite mesh with the overall intended tone of the film. A replacement shop class sequence with both comic and horror elements was substituted, delaying the film's release by several months. The original swimming pool sequence with mostly completed effects can be watched as a bonus feature on DVD presentations.

Critical reception[edit]

The film was critically panned.[6][7][8] On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 16% rating based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 3.4/10. The site's consensus states: "Idle Hands has neither the humor nor the scares to satisfy audiences."[9] Metacritic reports a 31 out of 100 rating based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[10]

Over the years, however, it has acquired cult film status and continues to sell reasonably well on DVD. Jeremy Wheeler at gave the film a positive review stating: "It's definitely a case of better than you think. This horror comedy is high on gags and giant doses of marijuana... as is the love for gore and decapitated hand insanity to entertain any happy horror fiend."[citation needed]


A soundtrack album for Idle Hands was released through Time Bomb Recordings two weeks in advance of the film, featuring mostly punk rock and heavy metal artists. Though appearing on the album, the songs "Enthused" by Blink-182, "Mama Said Knock You Out" by The Waking Hours, "Bleeding Boy" by Disappointment Incorporated, and "My Girlfriend's Dead" by The Vandals were not used in the film.[11] Chuck Donkers of Allmusic rated the album two stars out of five, remarking that it "befits a combination teen comedy/horror flick that climaxes at a high school dance" and "features songs from over-the-top adolescent favorites".[12]

Idle Hands
Idle Hands soundtrack cover.jpg
Soundtrack album
ReleasedApril 13, 1999
GenrePunk rock, heavy metal
LabelTime Bomb

In popular culture[edit]

The film was parodied in the Robot Chicken sketch "Idle Nuts". The sketch has essentially the same plot as the original movie, but involving possessed testicles instead of a possessed hand.


  1. ^ "IDLE HANDS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. June 28, 1999. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Idle Hands (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  3. ^ Smith, Steven (1998-06-07). "It's Their Party - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  4. ^ Welkos, Robert W.; Source, (1999-05-04). "A Case of 'Entrapment' - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  5. ^ May 03, 1999 (2008-12-23). "'Entrapment' Snares Top Spot With Charismatic Stars' Help - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  6. ^ Grey, Ian (2013-08-28). "Idle Hands Movie Review & Film Summary (1999)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  7. ^ Van, Lawrence (1999-04-30). "Movie Review - Idle Hands - FILM REVIEW; A Demon Hand, a Cleaver And a Druid Named Debi -". Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  8. ^ Seymour, Gene (1999-04-30). "Slacker Dude Meets Splatter Flick in Energetic, Goofy 'Idle Hands' - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  9. ^ "Idle Hands (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  10. ^ "Idle Hands reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  11. ^ a b Music from the Motion Picture Idle Hands (CD liner). Laguna Beach, California: Time Bomb Recordings. 1999. 70930-43526-2.
  12. ^ Donkers, Chuck. "Review: Idle Hands". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-08-27.

External links[edit]