Passion Play ½ *
Directed by: Mitch Glazer.
Written By: Mitch Glazer.
Starring: Mickey Rourke (Nate), Megan Fox (Lily), Bill Murray (Happy Shannon), Rhys Ifans (Sam), Rory Cochrane ('Rickey'), Kelly Lynch (Harriet).
Mickey Rourke plays Nate, a once famous, now down on his luck jazz musician in some nameless town. He runs afoul of gangster Happy Shannon (Bill Murray) when he sleeps with Happy’s wife. In retaliation, Happy gets one of his goons to kidnap Nate and bring him out to the middle of the desert to execute him. But before Nate can be killed, a group of Indians come along and kill his would be assassin, but lets Nate go. He wanders around lost in the desert until he comes across a circus freak show, which for some reason has set itself up in the middle of nowhere. It is here when he first sees Lily (Megan Fox) and is instantly drawn to her. She is a bird woman – the catch being the wings that come out of her back are real, not fake. This isn’t an act, this is her reality. He convinces her to run away with him – thinking that he can give her to Happy as a peace offering. But wouldn’t you know it he falls in love with her. And wouldn’t you know, she falls in love with him. And wouldn’t you know it, but when Happy sees her, he falls for her as well.
The problem with the movie is, well, everything except Bill Murray. Murray seems to know just how ridiculous this movie is, and never really makes any real attempt to make Happy into a believable character, but instead seems to be having a hell of a lot of fun being ridiculous. Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox fair much worse, because they take it all so deadly seriously. This is the type of work Rourke was doing BEFORE his comeback – and proves that while he can be an incredible actor given the right role, given the wrong role he can be dreadfully awful. I feel kind of bad for Megan Fox, who continues to strive to be taken seriously as an actress, but seems to have no sense for material. Is it her fault she is so awful in this movie? Not really. You try acting with giant wings on your back and see how you fare.
The fault for this horrible film ultimately lies with write/director Mitch Glazer. He has spent years on this movie – apparently this was his passion project that we always wanted to do (which perhaps explains the stupid title of the film, because why else he would choose a centuries old term referring to plays depicting the execution of Jesus I have no idea). What made him think this movie would work? If it is a personal project, what was it about this story that spoke to him? I have no idea, because whatever it was, it doesn’t make it to the screen. Passion Play is the type of film that Mystery Science Theater 3000 would have a field day with.