92 Minutes Closer to Death

Idle Hands

The premise: an easy way to cash in on an audience that has never heard of some of the movies listed below. The story: Pot-smoking slacker teen loses control of his right hand, which goes on a murderous rampage and is undeterred by being cut off and microwaved.

The main player: Anton (Devon Sawa), who was chosen as a vessel for this evil spirit because of his “idle hands”; basically, he’s the most sedentary person around. The love interest: cute-as-a-button Molly (Jessica Alba), so sweet that she doesn’t think twice about fooling around with a stinky boy (Anton doesn’t shower during the movie’s several days) with blood all over him and a hand that wants to choke her. The sidekicks: Mick and Pnub (Seth Green and Elden Ratliff), two fellow stoners who, after being murdered, become undead because “the light” they were instructed to walk toward was too far away.

Van Helsing: Vivica A. Fox, hamming. Puzzling cameo: Fred Willard as Anton’s dad, who gets offed inside of five minutes. Döppleganger alert: Is that Jon Bon Jovi as the truck-obsessed metalhead? Poseur alert (or perhaps cultural-literacy flub, or perhaps even attempted wit): He wears a Quiet Riot T-shirt.

The sources: The Hand (obviously), Evil Dead 2 (duh), An American Werewolf in London (dead friends hanging around), Carrie (the ill-fated school dance), Scream (endless pop-culture references), Porky’s (gratuitous nipple close-up). Curious reference: Dawn of the Dead plays on a television set.

The good: intermittently clever writing (by Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer), a few fun twists on this well-worn material, Anton’s discovery that he’s been killing people, some nice special effects (especially those involving the decapitated friend), good makeup treatment of the undead.

The bad: This well-worn material has no place to go after exhausting its few inspired gags, generally lazy writing (especially in plot development), occasionally incoherent direction (by Rodman Flender, and what a name that is), a running time that feels 20 minutes longer than it actually is, constant plugs for the soundtrack, and some not-so-good special effects.

Will most be enjoyed by: boys from 13 to 16 years old, fans of tossed-off, campy horror movies, and people who resemble the three main characters.

Will be least enjoyed by: anybody who’s picky about things such as character development and redeeming social value.

Life lessons learned: The girl you’ve always liked likes you, no matter how many capital crimes you’ve been committing; misbehaving hands are best controlled with marijuana smoke; masturbate with both hands to prevent being inhabited by satanic forces.

The verdict: a marginally enjoyable way to get 92 minutes closer to physical and intellectual death.

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