Nicolas Cage’s body of work includes roles stretching the gamut from “Raising Arizona” to “Family Man.” Both films are among my all-time favorites. And both, coincidentally, feature Cage as a somewhat panicked father…to one of the Arizona quintuplets he hilariously kidnapped in the former, a Coen Brothers classic, and to two children in a parallel existence in the “It’s a Wonderful Life”-like latter, a staple for us during the holidays.
I recently Tivo’d “The Wicker Man,” hoping Cage would redeem himself after another “Man” picture my wife and saw earlier this year, “The Weather Man.” “Weather” was simply dreadful. There was nothing in the film to like at all, despite the premise and the promise of the previews, which teased to a sensitive story. What was ultimately delivered was nonsense.
“The Wicker Man” was worse. As in “Top 5” of all-time worse.
In “Wicker,” Cage portrays a policeman searching for a missing girl at a mysterious commune on a mysterious island. The film is built up to be a scary one, but I got the feeling from the previews it was, as our critic Neil Morris likes to say, “and ending in search of a story.” Still, I was intrigued. With Cage playing the lead role, it couldn’t be all that bad, I hoped.
Problem was, both the ending and the story preceeding it stunk.
It’s hard to describe how horrible this movie was. At one point in the film, Cage’s character says, “There’s something strange going on here, and I’m going to find out what it is.” Well said. The strange thing going on was Cage agreeing to be in a movie with what had to be one of the worst scripts ever written. His acting has no feel to it whatsoever, and the rest of the characters go around like they’re sleep-walking as well. (Spoiler alert: they’re not. It just seems like it because the direction and photography are nearly as bad as the script.)
I’m not a big fan of 50s “B-movie” monster thrillers. “Wicker Man” didn’t have a monster, but its lame pretext is far more shallow than the worst of the “B” movies, making it better suited to the “C-movie” genre, if there is such a thing.
As Cage’s character learns in the end…this is a place you’d be better off to not visit in the first place.