Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 The 10 Best Films Of 2002 Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: 'Suing The Devil' A Genuine Career Low For Malcolm McDowell

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist April 12, 2012 at 3:59PM

The spirit of Tommy Wiseau is alive and well in the new, Malcolm McDowell-produced faith-centric indie “Suing The Devil." There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that McDowell, who stars as the titular Beelzebub, has over the course of his storied career, gone from working with Stanley Kubrick and Lindsay Anderson to slumming it in a low-rent Christian film that makes “Fireproof” look like “Dr. Zhivago.”
16
Suing The Devil

The spirit of Tommy Wiseau is alive and well in the new, Malcolm McDowell-produced faith-centric indie “Suing The Devil." There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that McDowell, who stars as the titular Beelzebub, has over the course of his storied career, gone from working with Stanley Kubrick and Lindsay Anderson to slumming it in a low-rent Christian film that makes “Fireproof” look like “Dr. Zhivago.”

“Suing The Devil” concerns Australian law student Luke O’Brien (Bart Bronson), a long-haired rockstar-type and devout Christian having “the worst year of [his] life.” His mother was killed by a drunk driver, his wife is nursing a mysterious Movie Cough… gas prices are too high! To O’Brien, this is a sign that the world has gone wrong, and Satan is to blame. The only logical realization is that Satan needs to be sued. Specifically for eight trillion dollars, and yes he is serious, and no, no one ever asks how he came to that specific cash amount.

After supplying court documents to major law firms, goth teens and strip club purveyors, O’Brien is prepared to be kicked out of court after having made his point, when into the picture steps Malcolm McDowell, clad in all-black, in dark shades, looking desperately like a hopelessly square old man trying to be hip. Satan smiles and laughs at everyone’s attentions, pulling off cheap parlor tricks and, in one scene, kneecapping a Kiss fan and proclaiming himself “a Tom Jones man.”

Suing The Devil

While the green O’Brien goes at the Devil in court with a fellow student (“Friends don’t ask friends to sue Satan”), McDowell’s reptilian smoothie courts a “dream team” of legal aides from around the world, with the names of Mr. Ice, Ms. Black, Mr. Think Tank, Ms. Shy, Mr. Innocent, Professor Field, Miss Scarlet and Mr. In-Yo-Face (the black one!). While most of them are not atheists, they share with the Devil a common hatred of God, and have previously litigated in cases against cancer medication, the electric car, and restrictions on tobacco and gambling. It’s never exactly explained why Satan needs eight high-powered lawyers when he’s SATAN, but McDowell’s performance, a lighter shade of Al Pacino in “The Devil’s Advocate,” is meant to suggest that he’s having a ball.

Once the trial begins, it’s clear that the filmmakers have never once set foot in an actual courtroom. McDowell’s entire legal team of terrible actors take turns mugging for the camera, screaming random objections and badgering each and every witness while drenched in flop sweat. O’Brien is equally unprofessional, consistently changing his character’s aim in the trial, resorting to name-calling and Bible-quoting, which, given the nature of this case, is completely endorsed by the judge. O’Brien also appears unclear as to whether he’s pinning his own pedestrian struggles on the Devil, or suggesting Satan is responsible for all evil in the world. It’s cruel to say it more than once, but this inconsistency further illustrates that Bart Bronson may be one of the worst actors to ever read dialogue off a printed page.

Suing The Devil

The trial is punctuated by snippets from a fictional show “You Decide The Verdict,” a legal series hosted by pundit Barry Polk (Corbin Bernsen) that helpfully narrates exactly what we just watched as if it was a sporting event with a constantly changing score. He speaks to two “experts,” one of whom is called Tony “The Hip” Anzaldo and is played by a distinctly uncomfortable-looking Tom Sizemore. Sizemore, who has made a host of dubious career decisions in recent memory, does his best to get through his lines in a speed-mumble, desperate to get them out, in what was likely a single day of shooting.

The idea of taking Satan to court is a funny one, and it opens a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. But “Suing The Devil” is startlingly simpleminded, as when O’Brien puts an oil executive onto the stand and chastises him for being a capitalist and atheist, as if good and evil had any bearing on this man’s free enterprise. The ideas behind the film are laughably primitive, and it’s startling to see an actor of McDowell’s caliber swept up in them. At the point where Satan begins taking credit for gangsta rap, it’s clear that the ignorance that powers this film is borderline dangerous. It pretends it’s a comedy when one lawyer rants like Jim Carrey in front of extras forced to laugh as if by gunpoint, and then declares itself a drama when O’Brien has to answer character assassination claims that he used a curse word once. In short, it’s embarrassing on almost every level, poorly written, shot, scored and edited and bereft of a single idea, interesting or otherwise. [F]

"Suing The Devil" is out now on VOD.

This article is related to: Review, Malcolm McDowell, Suing The Devil


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates