I don’t know what to say about the acting, writing and directing in G.I. Joe because I couldn’t find any. There were scads of pretty people posing awkwardly in military chic and tossing out lame one-liners. Take this exchange between Army pals Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans):
Ripcord: “I’ve been thinking.”
Duke: “I warned you about that.”
To be fair, not thinking is good advice if you line up for G.I. Joe, the next phase of Paramount’s Cash for Clunkers campaign, begun with Transformers 2. You know, we lay out the cash and the studio thoughtfully supplies the clunkers.In a tight economy, why do we lavish cash on movies based on plastic battle toys? Maybe we just want some dumb fun. Too bad they left out the fun part. There are special effects, lots of them, but despite a reported $170 million budget, they look shockingly crappy. The Eiffel Tower appears to be destroyed by some green slime left over from the Ghostbusters films. Among the actors, the smartest are Sienna Miller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Not because they reveal depths of emotion but because they’ve disguised themselves so as not to be easily recognized.
For background, G.I. Joe isn’t just one soldier. The Joes are an elite, multinational military operation run by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). The goal is stop arms dealer McCullen (Brit actor Christopher Eccleston wielding the most outrageous Scottish accent since Fat Bastard) from destroying the world with warheads packed with cockroaches. Well, they looked like roaches to me. McCullen calls then nanomites. No one really bothers to explain how these nanomites morph from insects into green slime. And this in a movie that helpfully tells us, via subtitle, that Paris is in France.
I could load you up with more plot details, but this mercilessly incoherent, galactically stupid movie left me too numb to type. I can tell you that G.I. Joe isn’t as rank as Transformers 2. The people who made it, spearhead by director Stephen Sommers (whose hack touch is all over the Mummy trilogy and Van Helsing), actually seem to be enjoying tarting themselves out for a paycheck. Transformers 2 director Michael Bay, on the other hand, is clearly a cynic who believes audiences deserve the garbage he so profitably dumps on them.
There is an antidote if you see G.I. Joe and feel unclean. Get a copy of Team America World Police, the 2004 puppet musical from South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It totally skewers the ‘America Fuck Yeah’ idiocy on parade here. I’ll save the last word for the guy who sat in front of me this morning at the mostly empty theater showing G.I. Joe (the studio refused to screen the movie for critics). Right before the movie ended with a big reveal, this dude rose from his seat, shot me a look that could serve as a model for Disappointed Fan, and mumbled as he headed home, ‘Ah, shit.’ Les mots justes, as they say in Paris, France.