The Rules of Attraction

Bomb Rating: 

Roger Avary is one of those guys who's been glomming onto Quentin Tarantino's success for years because he knows Tarantino from their days working together in the video store. A few years back he made a film called "Killing Zoe" which was basically one of those pictures where the main advertising slogan was: "From the Producers who Brought You Pulp Fiction." Not coincidentally, the main advertising slogan for "The Rules of Attraction" is something like: "From the People Who Brought You American Psycho."

This movie is rumored to be satiric, but it's tough to tell because Avary is one of those guys who thinks satire is a Chinese microbrew. If there's any relationship between this film and "American Psycho" it's that the characters are all completely reprehensible. The big difference -- the one Avary apparently doesn't get -- is that there's a concerted effort in "American Psycho" to make the film funny. Avary, on the other hand, seems to think that laughing and attempting to rip one's genitalia off with an ice cream spoon are produced by similar emotions. Rest assured, they are not.

And I'm fully aware that this is based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, who mined his fortune wallowing in the amorality of '80s youth. Certainly, the college kiddies in this freak show lack decency as well as common sense. It appears that James Van Der Beek has spent the post-Dawson's Creek years receiving electroshock therapy. Either that, or he's perfecting his Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" impression, because all does in this film is sneer. It's so pronounced that it appears Avary's contribution to filmmaking is the Eyebrow Cam.

Sean Bateman's (whose last name is the same as the main character in "American Psycho" for whatever unexplained reason that I assume requires actually reading the book) goal is to deal drugs and get laid. He craves something he can't define. Virginal Lauren (Shannyn Sossamon) loses her virginity at a party after she gets drunk and discovers a nerdy local doing her from behind while the guy she thought she was going to be sleeping with films the whole thing. To top it all off, the nerdy local barfs all over her back. Is this something I need to see? Are the trappings of modern living so devoid of decency and possibility that I'm supposed to accept that Lauren's reaction to this whole thing is merely one of patient disassociation? She reacts like an effeminate 18-year-old who just became a gang leader's bitch in a maximum security prison. Then there's gay Paul (Ian Somerhalder), who seems to pursue one heterosexual after another, thereby assuring his continued failure. Lara (Jessica Biel) screws an entire football team and appears to be the poster child for intimacy issues.

There isn't one interesting character or one interesting situation in the entire film. There's no reason to watch it. There's nothing to learn from it. Paying money to sit through it is akin to letting Roger Avary throw up on your back, without irony. In the meantime, Avary might want to buy himself a dictionary (any small paperback will do) and look up the word "satire." It's right there, just a few pages before the word "simian."

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