1 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 92 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

“FOR SCREENING ONLY”. I have a feeling these words are going to be in my dreams for the next several nights. Apparently, this is how far things have sunken since the Hollywood screener’s scandal. For those of you unacquainted with this mess, it seems that the screener or preview copies of recently released movies which are distributed to critics and other industry personnel have been finding their way onto the internet and other places where they can be viewed by nefarious ne’er-do-wells. Various measures have been taken, such as limiting the number of screeners given out, and inserting watermarks on the footage. Today I watched my first watermarked tape. Care to guess what the watermark said?

The worst part of the watermark was its placement just north of dead center on the screen. Besides serving as a constant distraction, it also effectively blocked the actor’s faces in several of the scenes. If there is to be an up side to this experience, it’s that I have been reacquainted with the importance of actor’s eyes. Whether the audience realizes it or not, the eyes are where we most key in to an actor’s emotions and motives. Without this cue, the audience will be lost. Filmmakers and film distributors, please keep this in mind if you do feel the need to include watermarks in your works.

Some things in nature are so ugly that they’re cute. Take for example, pugs. The same principle applies to movies so embarrassingly awful that they’re somehow enjoyable. Incidences of this phenomenon include all of Ed Wood’s movies and anything that ever came on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Some may want to add “Ziegfeld Follies”, Esther Williams’ aqua musicals, and “Showgirls” to this list, but I’ll still take a pass. Regardless, there are some movies that are so bad that they’re still just bad. “Rice Girl” is in this latter category.

Through the bombardment of absurd slapstick jokes that most often go absolutely nowhere, the main story of “Rain Girl” is the misadventures of a Chinese immigrant would be actor, Windy Yee. Turns out she wants the role of the head hooker in the upcoming film, “Hooker X” and is advised that she needs to become the role if she wants to get the role. Method acting jokes, never seen that before. At any rate, Windy takes to the streets and through a series of coincidences a slue of zany escapades ensue. The question is whether she’ll be able to get the experience she needs to land the job before she gets arrested for prostitution. The real question is whether you’ll still be awake by the time the movie ends.

There’s nothing wrong with slapstick comedy. Who hasn’t enjoyed a laugh at movies like, “Johnny Dangerously”, “Caddyshack”, and “Scary Movie”? The promo material for “Rice Girl” touts itself as an Asian “Dumb and Dumber”. Unfortunately, it plays out more like a version of that movie without the comedy. The difference is that the Farrelly brothers, though over the top, had cleaver comedic settings and timing. “Rice Girl” noticeably lacks these elements. Also, “Dumb and Dumber” and the other examples were all at least a little raunchy at times. “Scary Movie” was vulgar from start to finish and was hilarious. In contrast, “Rice Girl” is a Christian movie. It even gives thanks in the credits to Jesus and The Holy Ghost. Now, I have no problem with thanking Jesus, but somehow it just doesn’t jibe next to the third world nation sized surgically enhanced boobs on the star of the movie. If my college roommate were here, he’d probably rumble something about false advertising and how “Rice Girl” is the most sterile movie about a hooker he’s ever seen. At any rate, the lesson to be learned is that slapstick needs vulgarity.

Adding to the myriad problems that plague this movie are its technical shortcomings. At times the dialog is difficult to discern to such a degree that left me wondering what language the actors were speaking. Then there’s the issue of different shots in the same scene having a completely different look and color. The audio is admittedly hard to do much with once it’s recorded poorly, but the color differences could and should have been corrected. Most consumer desktop video editing systems could have accomplished this feat. I could also mention the overplayed soundtrack, seemingly the product of a $30 Casio keyboard circa 1985, but I think you get the general idea.

At this point I really wish I could say something positive. But, at the end of the day, the watermark proved both unnecessary and ambitious.

Posted on March 28, 2004 in Reviews by

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