John Waters spoofs independent filmmaking at its most absurd fringe with this affectionate portrait of a guerrilla filmmaking collective that declares war on Hollywood drivel. Bitchy screen queen Honey Whitlock (Melanie... more » Griffith, whose kewpie doll voice and aging baby face are right at home) is kidnapped by would-be auteur Cecil (Stephen Dorff), a slogan-spouting bottle blonde with a cult-like crew of cinema outlaws called "The Sprocket Holes." Cecil has declared war on Hollywood with the ultimate underground movie, "Raving Beauty," and his reluctant star Honey soon adopts her young misfit captors like a worried Mommy as her cultural cachet rises: the falling star has turned into a cult cinema rebel. It's a bizarre revision of the Patty Hearst story (with Hearst herself in a supporting role) full of film insider jokes and '60s revolutionary references, but it's more spoof than satire. Waters's primitive style is often clumsy, and the picture moves in fits and starts, but the cast's enthusiasm brings it to life. Waters has always celebrated misfits, outcasts, and cultural rebels and their self-made families, and this is his most outrageous, anarchic such bunch in decades. Through all the shootouts, bomb throwing, and fights with angry teamsters and suburban moms, there's an odd sense of innocence to the enterprise. It's as if Waters wants to remind us: it's only a movie. --Sean Axmaker« less
"Even if you're not a fan of John Waters, which I am, this movie is worth seeing at least twice. Despite Melanie Griffith's somewhat tepid acting,its absolute absurdity at times will have you laughing long and hard. And not only is it a spectacular comedy but, like all John Waters films, it's got something to say. Cecil and the Sprocket-Holes' absolute disgust of mainstream film, while taken to ridiculous measures, makes one think: Why ARE there so many movies based on video games? Why do we insist on re-making wonderful foreign films just so we don't have to read subtitles? WHY ARE THERE TWO BRADY BUNCH MOVIES?????? Being something of a film coneisseur myself, as well as an aspiring film-maker, this movie held a lot more than a few laughs for me. I often found myself screaming obscenities along with Cecil's misfit gang. Stop the mass distribution of mediocre films. Yeah! Bring back the dream. Yeah!!! Family (as in "family films") is just another word for censorship! YEAH!!!!! Power to the people who punish bad cinema! YEAH!!!!! Ok, so perhaps I need to get a life. Be that as it may, Cecil B. Demented is still a great flick. If nothing else, watch it for the laughs...and the Christmas Trees. You'll see."
Instead of wasting your money on another Kevin Costner movie
Tracey P | Granite City, IL United States | 12/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We all know John Waters, and if you don't maybe you should ask yourself why this selection should interest you in the first place. He has created B rate films that were sure to shock the audience, and force them into convulsions. That was the late seventies, and yes everyone must "grow up" (and I use this term loosely.) This movie, unlike most of his work does have a political issue to accompany the unique behaviors displayed by the unique characters. It is a message of insulting the conformist society that pays to see movies like "Runaway Bride," at the theatre. His characters are, as always, well developed and completely motivated in the genre created by Waters. If you believe that society should revolt against the spoonfed cinema forced down the public's throat, like we are mentally challenged infants, this film is definitely for you. It is a movie that is non-passive in its message that it is better to have a strong and passionate viewpoint than no viewpoint at all. DEMENTED FOREVER!"
One "DEMENTED" Film!
Reviewer | 04/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mainstream movies and the studio system, as well as independent films and filmmakers, are sliced, diced, hammered and shredded by writer/director John Waters in his biting and funny satire, "Cecil B. Demented," starring Stephen Dorff and Melanie Griffith. Railing against convention and adamant in his quest, a young man who wants to make a statement about bad movies, the way they're made, those who participate in these cinematic transgressions and those who flock to theaters to see the final product, dubs himself "Cecil B. Demented" and sets out to make a "real" indie film. Toward this end, he assembles a group of like-thinking would-be filmmakers and forms them into a lethal band of cinematic guerrillas he names the "Sprocket Holes," and has them take jobs at and infiltrate a theater in Baltimore that is about to hold a lavish premiere of a new movie featuring Hollywood star Honey Whitlock (Griffith). Honey herself is scheduled to attend, and Demented's plan is to kidnap her and force her to star in his film, which will be shot "ambush" style, intruding upon real people and situations, rolling film and getting it in the can before anyone knows what happened. He hopes. Dedicated to making the kind of movie that should be made, the Sprocket Holes are not only willing to die for their art, but go so far as to take a vow to remain chaste until the film is completed. "Demented" is by turns outrageous, violent and hilarious, and-- some would say, subjectively speaking-- that Waters pushes the envelope of good taste to the limit. But then again, he usually does, and it usually works. Anyone who knows John Waters' movies knows what to expect (indeed, anticipate), but those who come to his work unawares may be in for a jaw-dropping eye opener. When satire is done well it can cut both ways; this one is, and it does. Movies made by the studios for no other purpose than to make a buck, and which contain no artistic merit whatsoever are the obvious target of Waters' barrage, but so are the "auteur," legends-in-their-own-minds "indie" filmmakers with a penchant for taking themselves too seriously. Along the way, Waters is having a laugh at himself, even as he laughs along with his fellow filmmakers at both ends of the spectrum, those at whom his shots are being fired. As Demented, Dorff takes a somewhat over-the-top and highly energized approach to the character, in a performance punctuated with exclamation points. But he leaves no doubt in the mind of the viewer that he IS Cecil B. Demented. And you know that come what may, there's going to be no stopping him. Griffith, meanwhile, adds a nice touch as Honey, a character through whom we see all the transparencies of a Hollywood "star," whose career has never been hampered by bad acting. Inured of a caustic and ego driven personality, she nevertheless manages to garner some sympathy as the story moves along and her vulnerable side is exposed. Griffith is perfect for the part, which is something of a good natured nudge in the ribs of her own image. As intended, it's just another instance of Waters pulling aside the curtain to reveal what is really behind the facade. In a supporting role, Alicia Witt gives a memorable performance as Cherish, the porn star who sees her co-starring role with Honey in Demented's film as a way of legitimizing her career, while at the same time thumbing her nose at the industry that has for so long shunned her "talents." The additional supporting cast includes Adrian Grenier (Lyle), Larry Gilliard Jr. (Lewis), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Raven), Jack Noseworthy (Rodney), Michael Shannon (Petie), Harriet Dodge (Dinah), Zenzele Uzoma (Chardonnay), Eric M. Barry (Fidget), Erika Lynn Rupli (Pam), Mink Stole (Mrs. Mallory), Patty Hearst (Fidget's Mother), Ricki Lake (Libby) and Kevin Nealon (Himself). A film that will definitely get your attention, "Cecil B. Demented" sets pretentiousness on it's ear by saying what most people think but rarely say due to the constraints of social protocol. Waters crosses some lines and doesn't pull any punches with this one, which may make it a bit hard for some to take; but movie lovers in general, and aficionados of independent film especially, should get a real kick out of it. It may be a bit skewed, but it's all a part of the magic of the movies."
Eclectic Appeal...Great for Coffee House discussion
Digital Nomad IL | IL USA | 02/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off...not everybody will like let alone stand this film. However, its' appeal to the iconclastic crowd is strangely bewitching.
I once showed "Being John Malkovich" at a Friday gathering when the film was in its' hayday. Many seemed confused as to why the film had garnered such great reviews. Cecil was the follow-up movie of the evening that answered their questions. A fun time discussing it was had by all that night.
I can best describe Cecil as a tongue and cheek dark comedy lampooning the movie industry, Hollywood, its' biases and image. The punk, anti-establishmentarian and counterculture fringe element in you should enjoy this feature."
Dementia is good for the soul
Karen | Paris, France | 08/13/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I liked this movie not so much because it was a masterpiece, but more because it was a brave piece of filmmaking that decided to break the rules completely. I'm tired of movies that claim to break the rules and then give you all these cutesy things that really are designed to appeal to a wide audience. The fact that Stephen Dorf appeared in this film has also raised my respect for him as an actor. He's been on the fast track to big budget movies, so doing this film for him is almost the same as doing a broadway show - it does nothing to advance his career and really exposes his strengths and weaknesses. Overall, this film once again made me thank the lord that John Waters exists, we need more directors like him."