American History X

Bomb Rating: 

This is just what America needs: a wildly egotistic Brit giving morality lessons on Skinheads.

This is Tony Kaye's directorial debut, but somewhere along the way, Kayegot the idea that he was already Stanley Kubrick and demanded all kinds of additional time to edit. The studio denied him that time and allowed star Edward Norton to go in and edit the film so that it could be released. This so infuriated Kaye that he took out a major newspaper ad chiding the studio and went around everywhere he could crying like a baby. He also wanted the notorious "directed by Alan Smithee" tag on this film, but that too was denied him. Maybe what Kaye needs is a nipple and a blankie.

This is just what America needs: a wildly egotistic Brit giving morality lessons on Skinheads. Not only do I doubt Kaye's understanding of the subject, but I'm pretty sure a personality is required before you can give lessons on human dysfunction. Naturally, the Vinyard family is quite dysfunctional. Derek (Edward Norton) is a skinhead leader. His younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) idolizes him. Their mother (Beverly D'Angelo) looks as astute as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader who's accidentally walked into a biogenetics conference.

When Derek kills a couple of black kids trying to steal his truck -- and get back at him for an embarrassment on the basketball court -- Derek is sent to prison. This propels Danny deeper into the world favored by his brother while it actually changes Derek, who discovers in prison that black people are okay. Just like that. Derek's in the shower, some white toughs decide to reenact the 1939 invasion of Poland (with Derek playing the part of Poland), and from then on he realizes bad people are bad people and good people are good people and generally, the good ones don't sodomize you. He works with a black guy in the laundry room who doesn't sodomize him and, faster than you can say "it doesn't get any better than this," they become best buds and Derek's tune changes completely.

It's this conversion that plays so suspiciously. One second Derek's a white supremacist prick and the next second he's St. Derek, the equality angel, out to protect his family from the bad people who haven't seen the light. If all it takes is a little sodomy to turn a skinhead around, I think we have a whole new angle on rehabilitation.

To spread the word about this American History X review on Twitter.

To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.
1 Comment

Like This American History X Review? Vote it Up.

0

Rate This Movie:

Average: 5 (2 votes)

Other Cranky Content You Might Enjoy

  • Didn't we learn from the Lambada craze that dance movies are just disasters waiting to happen?

  • African-Americans longing for that moment when they'll actually realize some level of respect and/or equality in this country need only watch this film to learn that the path of escape from Hollywood'

  • This movie is sort of the cinematic equivalent of slowing down to see the results of a car crash.

I honestly enjoyed the movie

Anonymous's picture

I honestly enjoyed the movie and didn't find it too preachy. Also, Derek's conversion made sense to me; he was in prison for 3 years and I honestly doubt they showed all three years. He and the black dude probably had a lot of offscreen conversations, and at one point it states that he was with the AB for a year before they did their whole ass raping routine on him. There were other reasons that Derek changed; the first was that in prison, he was the minority. This kind of put him in the shoes of the people he was discriminating in that he had to know what it was like to be outnumbered and pushed around by people who feel threatened. Being ass raped forced him to face that whites were just as capable of evil and cruelty as blacks, and that all races had good and evil people. This left him in flux, which ultimately made it easy for Sweeny's message to register.

This is all just my interpretation however.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.