A coating of Tinkerbell dust

2010-06-07 00:00

INITIAL public response on the Internet Movie Database shows an overall score of 3,9 out of 10 for Killers. This is not very overwhelming, although voting at this stage is in its preliminary stages. A score of 3,9 is in the realm of the very worst movies, and intriguingly, the demographic breakdown shows that females under 18 have rated this movie as a nine out of 10, perhaps saving it from an even more lowly status. Why is this the case and what might it mean for the rest of us who fall outside of this demographic?

Let’s look at the plot first. Jen Korn­feldt (Katherine Heigl), finds herself holidaying with her protective father (Tom Selleck) and alcoholic mother in the beautiful seashore city of Nice. In a lift to her room, she meets her ideal man in the person of Spencer (Ashton Kutcher) and they end up getting married. Three years later, however, neighbours and friends bizarrely turn on them, trying to execute them by any means possible. Yes, I agree, the first red flag is raised by this almost-impossible-to-believe twist in the story, the resolution that smacks of handy plot device and Hollywood trickery. Perhaps this emanates from the mundaneness of the clichéd jealous father story and the screenwriters who are attempting to push the envelope in ever more sensational directions.

Of course, the makers are counting on their star actors to paper over this genre-bending mash-up, which tries to straddle both romantic comedy and the black comedy. The romcom, however, counts on light and fluffy and its flirtation with the fantasy of coupledom, while the black comedy is always aware of our darkness. In Killers though, there is no tongue in any cheek and it has as much black in it as The Adventures of My Little Pony. Violence and death in this mo­vie are completely Disneyfied, a tonal approach that rears its head very early on.

In the couple’s first meeting, Spencer bares his admittedly well-sculpted midriff and Jen goes ga-ga. I noticed the buttons being pushed when our audience reacted like Pavlov’s dogs.

Either there is some ritualistic pleasure in embracing the superficial, in some sort of collective sharing of clichéd responses to Hollywood’s beats or, most sadly, we have come to enjoy the surface to the detriment of thoughtful engagement.

For the fantasy of the romcom, this might have played out in a cringe-worthy way, but for a black comedy it’s criminal to have missed the opportunity to throw it back in our faces. In fact, it does the complete opposite, with Jen, stating three years later and as straight-faced as ever, that she has still not got over his body.

I certainly didn’t hate the film and I think this is due to the like­abilility of the stars. It was even great to see Selleck back as the grumpy old man, but it’s just like celebrity TV: it spray-paints excremental values with Tinkerbell dust.

**

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