Videogum

The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Crank

By Gabe Delahaye / June 29, 2009 - 4:20 pm

I know that there is still some confusion about how The Hunt works, as evidenced by numerous comments each week, and I suppose that I am doomed to keep explaining the rules, ))<>((, since we will inevitably have new readers who don’t know what is what, and who will not bother to find out what is what on their own. (On a similar note, people can stop suggesting I Know Who Killed Me now, because I already did I Know Who Killed Me.) It seems especially fitting to go over this today since Crank has turned out to be a very controversial nominee. Many people have been very scared about what might be said about their precious, precious Crank. Either that, or very derisive in what they assumed would be a self-imploding shit show wherein I make it very clear that I have never known what the fuck I am talking about and everyone laughs at me because this is Crank’s world and I only live in it, because apparently Crank, in some people’s eyes, is an unimpeachable work of incredible art, and only a fool would ever dare to even talk about it lest God cut the tongue from his mouth (with heaven lazers? I don’t know). Well, so a couple of things about that:

1. The whole point of The Hunt is to find the Worst Movie of All Time, not to simply survey already known bad movies. Read the rules! The point, though, is that any movie is a valid nominee to this nightmare quest. And if a movie that you happen to like turns up on the list, it doesn’t mean that it’s definitely going to be a terrible movie. If you are right, you should not be scared. Put your movie in the Dune itchy box. We will see if it gets the vivid blue spice eyes.

2. Crank is definitely not an unimpeachable work of incredible art.

Crank begins with a first-person, groggy-headed walk through a modern apartment. We stop in the living room where there is a DVD that someone has conveniently labeled in Sharpie. Thanks! The label is “Fuck You.” Sounds good. ‘We’ put the DVD in the player and find out that an hispanic drug dealer, or something, has injected Chev Chelios with “the Chinese shit” and it is only a matter of time before he dies. Uh oh! Somehow Chev Chelios seems to figure out on his own that he needs to keep his heart-rate up to stay alive, either that or he figures out that he needs to fight a bunch of black guys to stay alive? He fights a bunch of black guys and his heart is like “smart move.” He is out to get the mean hispanic caricature from the DVD, but also to find his girlfriend, Amy Smart, and also to find his doctor. He kills the mean hispanic caricature’s brother and he calls them all faggots. Then he finds his doctor who was busy getting a hand job, and his doctor is like “you need to keep adrenaline going to your heart,” because just over the phone this doctor is able to give him a correct diagnosis that he has indeed been injected with what is known in the medical community as “the Chinese shit.” The doctor may dress like a character out of Leisure Suit Larry, but he is the best in the business. So, now Chev Chelios finds his girlfriend and tells her that he has been lying to her and that in reality he is a murderer for his job, and she is like “yuck,” but then she is like “just kidding, it is every girl’s dream to have a murderer for a boyfriend. This is great news.” Then Chev Chelios finally confronts the bad guys on the roof of the Bromance hotel and a bunch of them die, and there’s something to do with warring gangs and the idea that Chev Chelios actually is a good guy who decided he wanted out of the murder-game, because at the very last minute this movie pretended to have a plot, but the important thing is that Chev Chelios gets thrown out of a helicopter and dies. (But SPOILER ALERT, he gets better.)

First of all, let me just say, I get it. This movie is supposed to be like a videogame, frantically paced, hyperkinetic, and absurd. Who doesn’t get that? The fucking title card beats you over the head with this idea.

So let us not play the “if you don’t like it, you don’t get it” game, OK, Gwyneth Paltrow? If you don’t like Crank, you still get it. Children get it. Children are like “I don’t know why my parents let me watch this, it is really inappropriate for me to have watched this, but I totally get it.” I don’t think that it’s as supposedly-clever as, say, Shoot ‘Em Up, which is another movie that is very self-aware and playing on people’s genre-expectations and the over-the-top-ness of modern action movies. But yeah. DUH.

And if you do like Crank, that is fine too! It is certainly an easy enough thing to spend an hour and a half looking at. It is mindless entertainment, and there is something to be said for mindless entertainment. Personally, I tend to prefer things that are a little heavier on the entertainment and a little lighter on the mindless, but supposedly there is no accounting for taste (Yet! When my Taste Accounting Machine is complete, then we will see).

“Your taste is in critical condition!”

Although I think that a lot of Crank enthusiasts make the argument that this movie knows that it is bad, which I think is a weird argument, isn’t it? I mean, no one sets out to make a bad movie, especially no one paying the millions of dollars for it. And that’s also a weird argument to make for why you like something, isn’t it? I mean, just because something knows that it’s bad (if we’re accepting that that is a thing, which I am still not sure that it is) doesn’t make it not bad. Like, congratulations, everyone agrees this is bad. You did it? I suppose the reasoning behind this argument is that sometimes people just have lower ambitions, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and when they meet those low ambitions they can have low levels of success. I suppose that is true! It is also mildly depressing! Let’s paint, exercise, and have more ambitions, you guys!

But whatever! People like what they like! Some people like Crank! And besides, Dennis is in it!

But there is one scene in particular that I would like to talk about, because I think that this scene pushes the movie beyond just being subjectively entertaining or not entertaining to people who like it or do not like it. There is one scene in particular that I actually found genuinely reprehensible. I am talking, of course, about the Chinatown Sex Scene.

For some reason, for the first time in Hunt history, I’ve had a technical problem that does not allow me to rip a scene for you. For that I apologize. In the past I would make a joke about how you cannot fire me, because I quit, but that joke is not funny to me anymore. So instead I will just say that perhaps today has not been my finest day, technology-wise. But please use your imagination to bear with me:

Chev Chelios has just admitted to his girlfriend over lunch in a Chinatown restaurant that he is a murderer. She is appalled and distraught. She leaves. He gives chase. But oh no, his heart is slowing down! It is the effects of “the Chinese shit”. Suddenly, Chev Chelios has an idea: to make love right away, right there in the street. He suggests this to his girlfriend and she reacts the way many might: she is repulsed and unsympathetic. Which is when Chev Chelios begins to rape her. Oh, by the time he achieves penetration, she seems to basically be on board, but first there is a lot of grabbing and pulling and wrestling to the ground and ignoring of protestations and screams of “NO!” You know, rape stuff. And then they start doing it and the girlfriend is ALL ABOUT IT. She loves this.

Woof.

I’m not trying to be a humorless scold about this, and I’ve played as much Grand Theft Auto as the next guy (those prostitutes aren’t going to shoot themselves in the face!), but there is something about this scene that is so fucking horrible and disgusting that it makes me really angry. And the thing is, they built the movie’s marketing around this scene. I knew about this scene before I saw the movie. They just omit the part where it was a rape. Smart. That is a really smart way to use a rape in your marketing campaign is to pretend that it was not a rape at the beginning.

The worst.

Not to mention the fact that finding out that her boyfriend is a murderer and then almost getting raped by him is what proves to Amy Smart’s character just how much she loves him? I’m not saying that there aren’t tragically abused people in the real world who find themselves drawn into deeply unhealthy relationships in the pursuit of some kind of emotional catharsis for their wounded and pathologically fractured sense of self, but something tells me Crank was not trying to depict the harsh realities of those personal tragedies. I haven’t seen Crank 2, though, so maybe that’s a movie about how they both address their personal shortcomings and agree to support each other on the difficult path to emotional stability.

So, Crankheads, how did I do?

Next week: August Rush. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.