Earth to Sucker Punch: You Suck!

Sucker Punch, written by Zack Snyder and some other guy, starring a bunch of people (2011): The most surprising thing about Sucker Punch (“from the visionary director of 300 and Watchmen!”) is that Jon Hamm is in it, briefly. Did he lose a poker game to writer/director/”visionary” Zack Snyder? Did he get paid a lot? Are they former roommates? Maybe we’ll never know.

But we do know that Sucker Punch is one of the most deliriously awful movies ever made in the history of the universe. It’s bad enough that it’s almost never boring; thinking about it afterwards will, however, cause your eyes to bleed. If Snyder actually writes any of the new Superman movie he’s attached to direct, we may get something in the Elektra range of bad superhero pictures.

Do you really want to know the plot? OK. A 20-year-old girl with a porcelain doll’s blank, round face, an eight-year-old’s pigtails and a hooker’s clothing sense gets really mad at her Wicked Stepfather when her mother dies (or is perhaps murdered), and while trying to protect her younger sister from the stepfather, maybe she shoots and kills her stepsister, or maybe she just gets blamed for doing it.

This girl is called Baby Doll. She gets sent to a mental asylum for wayward girls that appears to have been dropped into the movie from the video game Painkiller. The stepfather bribes an evil orderly to have Baby Doll (she is, so far as I can recall, only ever called ‘Baby Doll’ in the movie) lobomotized in five days. Her female friends are Rocket, Sweet Pea, Blondie and Amber. As stripper names go, the movie really only lacks an Ayesha, and maybe a stripper with her pubic hair shaved into a Nike swoosh.

Blank-faced, espressionless-but-glycerine-tear-producing Baby Doll imagines a second reality in which she and the other inmates are actually stripper/prostitutes imprisoned in a strip club/bordello. In this reality, Baby Doll is such an awesome dancer that she can Hyp-Mo-Tize men while she dances, allowing her friends to round up the four objects they need to escape.

But, see, when Baby Doll dances, she’s fantasizing that she’s undertaking crazy adventures in various syncretically derivative science-fantasy landscapes (say, World War One with steam-powered German zombie soldiers, or a WW2 bomber taking on a dragon in what looks like an outtake from Lord of the Rings). Her and her gal pals undertake all these third-level adventures while dressed in fanboy fetish-wear, mostly lingerie, guns, robots, ninja swords, high-heeled boots, that sort of thing. WE NEVER ACTUALLY SEE BABY DOLL DANCE.

Yeah, I know you’ve just tried to process the idea that Baby Doll’s escape fantasy is to be a stripper/whore who’s going to be raped and probably murdered in five days by “The Big Roller” rather than a mental patient and that to escape that escape fantasy, she’s an underwear-wearing ninja in a series of adventures that completely destabilize the idea that the ‘top’ level of reality is sometime in the 1950’s or early 1960’s, especially as all the music for the action sequences comes from long after the seeming milieu of the top level. Unless Bjork’s “Army of Me” came out thirty years earlier than I remember.

Moreover, the top level’s too stylized to represent any sort of narrative touchstone, and becomes moreso when the entire escape plan from the asylum is staged within the second level of the fantasy, leaving the viewer completely in the dark as to whether or not anyone actually died in the escape attempt, and if so, how and why, and frankly, really, who gives a fuck? There aren’t any actual characters in this anyway, and the women are such stylized fetish objects that the whole thing feels like a role-playing game for sex dolls and the fan-boys who love them.

But to get a PG-13 rating, the movie eschews actually nudity and sex. To top everything off, a musical sequence cut from the main narrative of the movie plays under the closing credits for no apparent reason. I shit you not. This thing is so awful it may become a cult classic. It may ALREADY be a cult classic. Recommended only as a truly awful movie, awfully made and awfully written.

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