Lurching incoherently to Blu-ray this month, Horizon Films’ surreal pastiche comedy and Edward Furlong vehicle This is Not a Movie tragically lives up to its title, failing utterly at having a plot, being remotely entertaining, or making any valid points about anything at all. On the upside, it has an original soundtrack from Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses (if you’re into that), and there’s a scene where faceless chicks in American flag underwear shake their asses for five minutes in a room full of lights and confetti. Also, there’s this other scene where Edward Furlong throws his arms up in the air and screams “I NEED P*SSY!” for no real reason, while wearing a cowboy hat. Other than that, the movie is boring and worthless.
Living in an Inferno-inspired Las Vegas hotel following the highly commercialized announcement of an impending worldwide apocalyptic meltdown, Pete Nelson (Furlong) has sequestered himself alone in his suite, alternating between flipping channels and broodingly contemplating the futility of his existence. Aside from the impending fiery gloom and doom that will soon mark the end of civilization, Pete is also troubled by his own lack of long-term memory, and seems unable to recall who he is, where he came from, or what he did prior to his current predicament. Compounding his anxieties are a pair of potentially hallucinatory alter egos (also played by Furlong) trying to steer Pete respectively toward bacchanalian abandon in the face of his own destruction, or towards Zenlike acceptance and spiritual self-realization.
Convinced at first that his contentious compatriots are merely psychological projections, Pete gradually becomes convinced that all three of them are alternate versions of a single character, existing inside an unfinished movie script devised by someone else. Eager to discover his true identity, as well as the meaning and purpose of his existence, Pete sets out to find the individual responsible for creating him, hoping to succeed in time to stop the world from ending.
I’m pretty forgiving of low-budget movies that lack coherence or entertainment value – it can be a tough grind getting a film finished on time, working under severe budget constraints without sufficient resources. This is Not a Movie, however, is so wanktastically self-congratulatory about its inability to function as a narrative that it inspires only annoyance and disdain, seeming blithely convinced that its preschooler-at-mealtime refusal to conform to traditional rules about storytelling and characterization makes it automatically transcendent and artistically relevant.
It would be great if the filmmakers were rejecting storytelling conventions because they had something more exciting or innovative to say, but they really don’t. They just wanted to prove to everyone that they could shoot a movie with no characters and no story, and indeed they have. I actually feel kind of bad for Edward Furlong, who I honestly believe is better than this, but saying he does what he can with the material isn’t saying much, considering the caliber of material he’s working with.
On the upside, if you’re a Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, there’s a pretty formidable interview in the special features with Slash, who explains how he got involved with the project, what his creative process was, and which sequences in the movie are his favorite. There’s an interview with supporting player Peter Coyote as well, plus some deleted scenes that I didn’t watch because the movie’s actual runtime was already way too much for me. Maybe some of the deleted scenes are interesting or funny, I have no idea.
This is Not a Movie’s failure to compensate for its lack of superficial content with convincing thematic resonance or formal commentary, plus its refusal (or fiscal inability) to just shoehorn in some boobs and action sequences and become the halfway passable exploitation movie it clearly wants to be, leaves us with a film so moodily indecisive and passive aggressive about its real intentions that it will make you uncannily feel as though you’re arguing with some caustic, pretentious emo kid outside the 7-11 for ninety-odd minutes. Please don’t pay money to intentionally have that experience. You’re better than that.