For months, people around Wisconsin have been anticipating the opening of the summer blockbuster “Public Enemies.” A large chunk of the movie was shot here in the Dairy State, and our tax dollars subsidized filming it to the tune of about $5 million.
Seeing as how we are a full service free market think tank here at WPRI, I used this specious connection to go see the movie to determine whether it was tax money well spent. I feel I am doing a public service to the taxpayers to report on the fruits of their generosity (and, I admit, I was excited to see if I knew anyone in the movie, and I have an unnatural man-crush on Christian Bale.)
I was actually surprised that they made me pay for a ticket, seeing as how my tax money has made me a co-producer of this film. In fact, I’m still waiting for my director’s chair and bullhorn, and anticipate they will show up at my house any day now.
So here’s the quick synopsis of the movie:
It’s bad. Really, really bad. Closing in on awful.
It is apparent that about 20 bucks of our $5 million was spent on a script. The movie meanders along, without any interesting dialogue or insight. At 2 hours, 15 minutes, it’s about 45 minutes too long. Johnny Depp, who plays John Dillinger, seems almost to be embarrassed to be in the movie at all. Characters talk to each other with canned speeches that don’t even approach plausibility. By the time the inevitable end came, I had checked my watch about 10 times.
Perhaps the most grating aspect of the movie is Oscar winning French actress Marion Cotillard, who attempts to speak English without a heavy French accent. It comes and goes, which is interesting, considering she’s playing a character who’s half Indian and who grew up in Wisconsin.
In fact, isn’t there a big movement up at the Capitol to prevent the state from contracting with foreigners for government business? There were a hundred American actresses that could have played that part – we should crack down on the OUTSOURCING OF OUR ACTRESSES! (Holding hand over heart while the Star Spangled Banner plays in the background.)
For me, the only cool parts of the movie were the ones that took place in the Capitol, where I worked for 8 years. I immediately picked out the North Hearing Room, where a lot of the partisan caucuses used to take place. And I got the chills when the characters walk around the inside the Capitol.
I certainly don’t mean to dissuade anyone in Wisconsin from going to see the movie, especially if you recognize some of the sets in Columbus, Oshkosh and elsewhere. But it really is a crushing disappointment. I am amazed that big budget movies this bad can actually get made. But who cares if Wisconsin taxpayers are out $5 million for a terrible movie? SOME PEOPLE GOT TO WAVE TO JOHNNY DEPP!
In fact, conservatives have an opportunity here – if government-subsidized movies are this bad, imagine how bad government health care will be. If people draw the connection, single-payer government health plans will be dead within a week.
In this most recent budget, Governor Doyle scaled back the film tax credit to $500,000. It’s a good thing for supporters of the credit that he did so before seeing “Public Enemies.” If had seen the movie in advance, he may have actually started charging movies to film here.
Perhaps most importantly, why didn’t anyone tell me that this guy from “Dazed and Confused” was in Wisconsin filming the movie?