If this isn't a cult classic, it darn well should be
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 07/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Talk about your series of unfortunate events! Scriptwriter Daniel Handler (the man behind Lemony Snicket) delivers up a thoroughly adult tale of power, greed, lust, innocence lost, and seemingly foreordained tragedy in Rick. The movie may be patterned on Verdi's opera Rigoletto, yet the presentation of this story is uniquely memorable; it's a brilliant, intelligent, quirky dark comedy/morality tale that really should be a cult classic. Bill Pullman has finally made a believer out of me; I don't know why I have found it somewhat difficult to like him in the past, but he's really zoomed up my personal rankings of actors with his effort here. He may well be the only actor that could have pulled this role off to the maximum effect - it's a nuanced, quirky performance that samples just about all of the spectrums of modern life. When we first meet Rick, he's a jerk - pure and simple. Some viewers seemingly never got over that, but for me, this character quickly developed into a likeable, albeit unfortunate, human being filled with regrets yet seemingly trapped in a persona that he truly abhors in his heart. His love for his late wife emerges through his interaction with his somewhat wayward daughter Eve (Agnes Bruckner - and let me just say that the mental image I associate with the name Agnes has now been put completely on its head), and his contempt for his boss and co-workers - and thereby himself - becomes increasingly obvious.
Rick's boss Duke (Aaron Stanford), aka BigBoss, is a complete jerk and a pervert. When he and Rick are together, it's all fun and games, a contest to see who can step on more of the little people around them. The vindictiveness we see in Rick's character is fuelled by his secret hatred of Duke, who is young enough to be his son. In the tradition of reaping what you sow, Rick is inflicted with a "Chinese curse" by a young lady (Sandra Oh) whom he humiliated in an interview before also getting her fired from her current job. Before he can even laugh that threat off, a former college buddy shows up out of nowhere offering to help Rick get to the top. When the BigBoss is a kid, there's really only one surefire method of getting him out of the way of your professional development. Rick wants no part of such nonsense, but his reasoning changes as his life proceeds to come apart at the seams. In a real sense, all he has in his life is his daughter Eve, and she's something of a handful. Things develop in such a way that, for personal as well as business reasons, Rick wants Duke to disappear.
It's true that the ending doesn't exactly jump out at you and surprise you, but a good movie is not defined by a good, surprising conclusion - it's how you get to that conclusion, and Rick (the film) forges an unforgettable path from here to there. It's a dark comedy that morphs into a tragedy, and I found it incredibly compelling from beginning to end - and, as far as I'm concerned - it's brilliantly done. A lot of the humor is quick and subtle, but it all contributes to a virtual pillaging of business as usual in the modern world. Odd but effective camera angles and a disquieting soundtrack made up of darkly modified Christmas tunes effects a surreal atmosphere for the drama that unfolds, marking Rick as a definite modern morality play. The writing is sharp, incisive, biting, and wonderfully interconnected, with Handler tying ever plot element together in a way few writers can match. This is a brilliant motion picture that does not deserve its current state of obscurity."