Film, Print, Reviews April 11, 2013

Review: “A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles Swan III”

by James Garcia

charles swanThe only thing that dragged on longer than the title of this film: this film. My god, we get it, Charlie Sheen isn’t a bad guy. My god, we get it, director Roman Coppola wants out from the shadow of Wes Anderson. My god, we get it, love hurts.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III takes place in a 50’s-cartoon-version of Los Angeles, with toucans, samurai swords, and poster-girls everywhere, making it interesting cinematographically. But pretty much everything else in this film is shit. Charles Swan III Jr. (Sheen) is a rich graphic designer (hence the pin-up girls) who has just been dumped and is wrestling his love/hate for the girl. To help stroke his narcissism into full-erection are Saul (Bill Murray), Kirby (Jason Schwartzman), and his sister Izzy (Patricia Arquette).

Coppola was apparently childhood friends with Sheen and is cousins with Schwartzman. It just felt like another Hollywood inbred orgy. It has all the makings of a great film: a stylistic director, it’s a period piece, it has amazing acting talents contributing (sans Sheen, of course), and contains quirky, artistic editing choices. But the final product falls way short of anything of value.

The movie is littered with kitschy, trying-far-too-hard daydream sequences, which are used as a distraction from Charles’ downward spiral into loneliness. And they’re also used as a distraction from the terribly cliche plot. Best part of the film: Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Safety Not Guaranteed) in a sexy sailor outfit. Also Schwartzman’s jew-fro/beard.

Sheen gives a completely self-absorbed (as per usual) performance and his character shows little if any emotion throughout. Even when the poor toucan dies, we see little into the human side of this millionaire playboy, whose only real problem is not having a broad who will stick with him despite not giving the slightest care about anyone but himself. The one time he drunkenly, sobbingly explains his love, he breaks it off after a few words, and it’s back to another stoic daydream.

Honestly, I fell asleep three quarters of the way through this film the first time I attempted to watch it. I didn’t want to start it up again, but I said I was going to do this review. The characters have drawn out conversations that don’t end up anywhere I want to be, and it all seems so frivolous. What they’re saying isn’t provocative or edgy, it’s boring and ostentatious.

Of course Swan makes unreasonable and reckless decisions. Of course he gets away with it, despite committing multiple felonies. Of course his friends seem slightly irritated, but then forgive him, giving him a “touching” dedication speech (with a cheeseball song and a dancing less-than-cute marionette version of Swan that is just as horny as the life-size version… and just as fake.) Yawn. Barf.

“Seriously, what in the flaming hell is going on?” I said to myself after I stopped drifting off due to boredom, only to find the movie was ending, much to my sweet relief. The actors were each awkwardly introducing themselves and their characters in some cheesy Grease-wannabe fashion, speaking to the camera and shuffling around elaborately. Grotesque.

If you’re trying to tell yourself you’re “hip” enough to understand the deeper meaning of this garbage, just throw yourself off a bridge. There is nothing of value here. I’m pretending Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman had nothing to do with this. 1/10

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