Written by: David Koepp; based on novella Secret Window,
Secret Garden by Stephen King
Cast: Johnny Depp, Maria Bello, John Turturro, Charles S.
Dutton, Timothy Hutton
Secret Window is a fairly hard movie to rate for
several different reasons. First of all, Columbia has it
billed as a horror/thriller, but in reality it actually
has more laughs than thrills. Of course, that has much to
do with the wonderful (and wonderfully delicious) Johnny
Depp, whose wit and timing could infuse a snuff film
with humor, but still, it’s pretty sad when a bus
(don’t ask) is the only thing that makes me jump.
And for a complete and utter wuss to be saying that…
well, let’s just say that the PG-13 rating is quite
deserved. Then there’s the “surprise ending.”
Yeah, great, I love a good twisteroo, buuuuut it
kind of needs to work with the rest of the story first.
Looking back over the movie, I was constantly like, “Wait,
what? But then how… why… what?”
The basic premise is that author Mort Rainey (Depp) is
accused of plagiarism by John Shooter (Turturro),
a Southern psycho whose attempts to “rectify”
the situation are not unfamiliar to certain terrorist groups.
The guy clearly doesn’t understand the whole “appropriate
response” thing. If someone knocks off your girlfriend,
then yeah, sure, go all Lethal Weapon on his ass.
If he rips off your story, though, a nasty phone call or
a flaming bag of dog poo might be more fitting. Further
antagonizing the put-upon author is his impending divorce
with former wife Amy (Bello), whose character is
so sympathetic that you wonder why good divorces like that
don’t happen more often. Timothy Hutton plays
Amy’s new beau Ted, who isn’t so sympathetic.
I’d pay good money to see Kevin Bacon and Hutton
smirk it out for the title of “Ultimate Smarm.”
I’ve never been a big fan of films derived from Stephen
King novels—does anyone remember why Carrie
was supposed to be scary?—but I actually thought this
one showed some promise. I remember going into the theater
thinking, “Oh God, I don’t want to see this,
oh God, I don’t want to see this.” Thankfully
(for me) though, the horror never got around to showing
up. I guess it was on an extended coffee break, or something.
Now let me re-emphasize that I am a huge ’fraidy-cat
(those little sea-monkeys on the Quizno’s commercials
scare me), but Secret Window just wasn’t all
that terrifying. A blip crossed my radar every now and again,
but overall I was just like, “Oh look (yawn), another
dead body, how interesting.” Secret Window
is definitely not the type of movie you want to take your
date to unless she (or he) is just as into being “protected”
as you are into being the “protector.”
I was quite disappointed with where Koepp took this
film because I felt it could have been a good deal better.
The performances were spectacular, but the overall plot
just felt weak. Like I said earlier, the ending really doesn’t
plug in with the rest of the story. There are more holes
in the script than there are in one of Christina Aguilera’s
outfits (yeah, we get it, you’re not a Mouseketeer
any more, now go put on a sweater). When the credits finally
rolled, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it.
I’m still not, really. Was it a thriller or a comedy?
Was it good or bad? Did I like it or did I hate it? Even
the answers I did finally pry out of myself were
followed by a million “buts.” “Yes, but…
no, but… maybe, but…” So to follow suit
with those vague and doubtful “buts,” my final
word on Secret Window is “feh.” Not great,
not horrendous, just, well, “feh.”
— Emily Younger
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís worth a matinee ticket.
Wait for video rental.
Check out the video from the library, if you must.
While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...