Woody Allen stars in Picking Up the Pieces, playing a butcher named Tex who cuts up his adulterous wife (played by Sharon Stone) in a jealous rage. On his way to bury the pieces, he loses her hand on the side of the road,... more » where it's found by a blind woman--and miraculously gives her back her sight. Before long, the hand has become a religious relic, drawing huge crowds to the small town of El Nino, New Mexico, and testing the faithlessness of a straying priest (David Schwimmer), who's in love with the town's leading prostitute (Maria Gracia Cucinotta, from Il Postino). Add to this a corrupt mayor (Cheech Marin), a lawman named Bobo (Kiefer Sutherland), who's committed to getting Tex behind bars, a trio of investigators from the Vatican (Elliott Gould, Andy Dick, and Fran Drescher), and you've got... well, it's hard to say what. Director Alfonso Arau previously made the wonderful Like Water for Chocolate, and although Picking Up the Pieces has a similar magical-realism flavor, it doesn't quite come together. The movie does have a genial, raffish atmosphere and a bizarre cast, all of whom are having a good time. Arau himself plays a small role with great charm. --Bret Fetzer« less
RD C. (allepaca) from TEMPE, AZ Reviewed on 6/8/2011...
This has just got to be one of the funniest dark comedies ever made! Alternately satirical & sweet, hilarious & insightful. Almost no "institution" is safe from the satire- but religion, moral hypocrisy & good old human greed are the primary targets, artfully intertwined into a very clever and entertaining story line.
This is one of the few movies featuring Woody Allen that he didn't write & direct. But the cast (as well as the plot) has as much variety as a typical Allen flick-- David Schwimmer, Sharon Stone, Kiefer Southerland, Cheech Marin, Andy Dick, Fran Drescher, and the gorgeous Maria Grazia Cucinotta, to name a few.
In reading the negative reviews for this flik, it would seem that thinly-disguised (or even overt) "moral indignation" over the subject matter is the main reason for their discontent. Hmm. Methinks they doth protest a bit too much. Can't help but wonder how many of these folks would have the same viewpoint about "The Trouble with Harry", "Arsenic and Old Lace", "Eating Raoul", "Manhattan Murder Mystery", or any of the myriad of other dark comedies about murder and its aftermath.
Oh, but right-- THOSE flix don't make fun of religion... and its mindless and mercenary followers. Hits a few sore spots, does it?
Though there's certainly implied killing, there's no real violence portrayed in this film-- no blood-splattered cleavage, violent gun-battles, graphic knifings, explosive car chases, or any of the other staples of most of the popular films, these days... just thoughtful, somewhat slapstick, and definitely irreverent humor.
There are certainly some cheap shots-- big-boobs & big-dik one-liners, etc., but all in the context that this is *exactly* the sort of thing that all-too-many people really would wish for, should such miracles be offered. I suppose the "worst" scene would be the trooper-pinata near the end, but the real point of that scene is satire of "justified" mob violence, contrasted to that of the mild-yet-murderous main character, who is astounded by it.
There is also no overt sexuality; though the subject of sex, and especially of infidelity, comes up frequently. There are also a few touching scenes portraying the actual benefits of blind faith and love, misguided or otherwise.
Of course, one would have to excuse anyone who's had a family member or friend that was murdered, for finding the movie distasteful... but then, ANY flick about murder would be out of bounds for them, light comedy or otherwise. Everyone else needs to revisit the definition of "dark comedy", before bitching and whining so much. This film is great!
Oh, and for the guy who said "stupidity is not funny"... Gee, I wonder what Laurel & Hardy, or the Marx Brothers would say about that, considering they made an entire career out of lampooning the basic stupidity of all people? In fact, I'd say that a good 75% of humor involves laughing at the stupidity and misfortune of "others" (and therefore ourselves)-- and that's a very conservative estimate.
Listen-- if you're not squeamish about religion, and you don't mind comedy regarding body parts, sex, and mindless greed, you'll laugh your butt off at this flik. Otherwise, stick to Bambi, or a sappy John Wayne movie, or The Ten Commandments, or whatever else floats your boat.
Watch a Great Film that Never Made it to the Big Screen
CinemaNET | 09/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mexican Director Alfonso Arau provides an exquisite movie. We could say it's a "mystical comedy", that mixes magical reality with fearless satire. An ironic piece, mainly about religion in a small town in New Mexico.With an extraordinary cast that includes David Schwimmer ("Friends"), María Grazia Cucinotta, Cheech Marin, Kiefer Sutherland, Angélica Aragón, Alfonso Arau, Sharon Stone and Woody Allen, "Picking Up the Pieces" provides really cutting edge humor, not for everybody's taste.Due to distribution problems, the movie was not released in theaters. It was shown on Cinemax for a few months, but it was originally intended for the big screen. Therefore, this DVD version is actually the closest chance for the public to enjoy it as it was conceived.This independent film was produced by the Kushner-Locke Company, and it's about a kosher butcher (Woody Allen playing as Woody Allen) sick and tired of his unfaithful wife (Stone), up to the point where he kills her and cuts her into pieces. On his way to bury her remains he loses a hand, that is found by a blind woman that recovers sight. From then on the hand performs all kind of miracles among the unhabitants of "El Niño".A very original "piece" you should "pick up"."
Stupidity is not funny
Antonio | Bogotá, Colombia | 08/16/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Like some of the other reviewers, I picked up this movie because of the cast, particularly Woody Allen. The one good thing about it is that it wasn't very long, and that I didn't buy it, but rent it cheaply from my local library. Everything else about it is bad. The premise is not bad as far as it goes. Tex, a NY butcher (hopefully a kosher/halal one?) living in Texas marries a floozy who cheats on him at every turn. He kills her, dismembers her and drives over to the New Mexico town of El Niño to bury her corpse. In the way, he loses a hand. A blind woman stumbles over the hand and regains her vision. The hand is delivered to the local church where, in spite of the opposition of the priest, it is displayed as the Virgin's hand. It quickly confirms this reputation and transform's the windswept town into a tourist mecca. One of the dead woman's lovers, an irritating Texas ranger, find out about the murder an tries to arrest Tex and confiscate the missing hand. The local townspeople rebel, kill the ranger, release Tex, and keep the hand. A parallel plot concerns the priest who has lost his faith and is in love with one of the local hookers. The hooker first attempts to become celibate and then marries the priest. So what's wrong with this picture? Virtually everything. It's not being away from New York that has killed Woody Allen's jokes, but the fact that he is no longe allowed to take center stage or to roam freely across his multiple obsessions. Sharon Stone, as his adulterous wife and murder victim, must have been so stricken by the mediocre result that her name has been stricken from the marquee: one looks in vain for her name as the credits pass by (at the movie's end, rather than the beginning, which was surely no accident). David Schwimmer is utterly unrealistic as a priest, instead playing again the bumbling and incoherent character that made him rich at "Friends". Maria Grazia Cucinotta, as the obligatory hooker with a heart of gold is OK, although one wonders why she should fall in love with such a bland character as Schwimmer's priest. Of course it's possible (beautiful women are notorious for their rotten taste in partners) but it doesn't make for a funny movie. Kiefer Sutherland, as the Texas ranger, is even good rather than OK, since he conveys a sense of menace and aggression whenever he appears on the screen. Contrary to the rest of the cast, he stands for something, and has a personality, a rare commodity in this movie. Three actors who play a priest, a nun and a Franciscan monk on a mission from the archbishop to authenticate the supposed holy relic are ludicrous rather than funny. Stupidity is not funny. Clumsiness may be funny (witness Laurel and Hardy), but only when redeemed by some endearing trait (such as friendship or loyalty). These characters are cyphers. They are nothing more than authority figures to mock, and not even that at times. Other reviewers have commented on the film's disrespect for religion and priesthood. That's not the problem. Humour, like love, forgives all. The movie just isn't funny, and so its vulgarity and crudeness are unjustified. With no less than 3 major actors (Allen, Stone and Sutherland) and a great or at least distinguished support cast (Cucinotta, Schwimmer, Drescher, to name a few) it is much less than the sum of its parts. Vulgarity and lewdness are not funny by themselves, but only as part of a reasonable portrayal of human foibles. In this movie genitalia, breasts, profanity and lewdness are in fact substitutes for a plot or for well-rendered characters. This sort of thing may work (more or less) in "gross-out" films intended for the 13-year old set (such as "American Pie", "Dumb and Dumber" or the "Scary Movie" series) but it doesn't in a movie intended for adults. You'd have more fun drinking yourself blind while reading P.J. O'Rourke."
Everyone Says They Hated It
Miguel Moura | Coimbra, Portugal | 08/14/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I can't remotely understand why Mr. Allen decided to participate in this awful movie. "Picking Up the Pieces" is everything except funny. I can't understand what attracted such talented people to a project like this one. The movie has no direction and it seems it's wandering aimlessly. The premise might offend some catholics and the movie certainly offends movie lovers. I know it offended me. Avoid."
Not what one may expect from the cover
scarlet_milady | Canada | 07/25/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie starts with a man (Woody Allen) trying to dispose of the remains of his wife (Sharon Stone) in a small town in New Mexico. He cut her into seven pieces when raged by her continuous cheating. Everything would have gone well, if he didn't lose his wife's hand on the way. The people from the village found this hand and it started to perform miracles for anyone who asked...I was much disappointed by this movie. The cover makes one expect a light comedy. It was not so, Picking Up the Pieces was at times very slow and overall not really funny. There was too much packed all at once but, in my opinion, the biggest fault of the movie was the sound effects: the dialogues and monologues were quiet and unclear. So were the relationship and morals of people.I liked the character portrayed by Maria Gracia Cucinotta. Nevertheless, despite the fact that she was good for it, it should have been developed more in the movie. She is a prostitute who decides to change her profession and that decision is a bigger miracle than any performed by the hand at the same time to people surrounding her. This miracle came from within and the things done by the hand were all physical. The idea of this movie had a lot of possibilities that were wasted. I would not recommend paying money for watching this movie."
CinemaNET | 01/01/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"How on earth did they get so many fine actors to make this unbelievably boring movie? Its less funny that a Dave Barry column--and David Schwimmer comes off looking OK (check him out in Six Days, Seven Nights for some real unintentional comedy). Honestly, if you thought Plan 9 was tough to sit through....don't say I didn't warn you."