The Maddening

Director: Danny Huston

USA - 1995

  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!

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I moved.

I know, who cares? But you see, because of this recent relocation, access to my favorite (and arguably the best) video store has become somewhat limited (the establishment now being a good forty-five minute drive away).

So now it's the weekend, and suddenly an idea pops into my head (it’s been known to happen on the rare occasion) of a film I simply must review. Now, I can drive the aforementioned forty-five minutes and more-than-likely get the film I'm looking for. Or, I can walk to the Blockbuster (5 minutes, tops) and try to find something there. So, do I bite the bullet and drive for an hour (both ways) to get Act, Burt, ACT!the film I desire, or do I forsake my oath to quality film reviews for you, the esteemed reader, and mosey on over to the convenience of Blockbuster and settle for something stupid?

That's right. I walk my lazy ass over to Blockbuster.

And what do I get? What unknown gem leaps forth from the counter and answers all my prayers? Nothing. Now, I'm not going to generalize the entire Blockbuster chain (though I've never been thoroughly impressed with any of the stores I've visited), but the selection at my local Blockbuster blows the goat. I've determined that Blockbuster stocks each store according to the cultural diversity of the surrounding town. I live in a rather uppity, affluent suburban neighborhood, so that means all the movies I want to rent - horror, blaxploitation, etc. - are limited to a measly row or two (at best), while the rest of the store simply teems with new releases; most of which I could really care less about.

When I question a clerk about their lack of diversity, a common answer I get is something along the lines of:

"Huh? We got horror films." My customer service liaison then walks over to the new release section. "Have you seen Disturbing Behavior? Or The Faculty?"

"No," I politely reply. "But I was looking for something more in the Lucio Fulci vein - like say, The Beyond."

Blank stare and a moment of silence, "The Faculty is really good."

"The Faculty, eh?" I pick up the box and pretend to read the back. "This the one with the girl from Party of Five, isn't it?" "Hello, Newman."

"No sir, she's in Dawson's Creek."

"Whatever."

I know, I know, get to the point already - what did I end up getting? Excuse me - what did I end up settling for?

The Maddening.

Why?

Because I thought it'd be funny to see Burt Reynolds play a psycho.

And was it funny?

No.

After a domestic dispute with her husband, Cassie Osborne (Mia Sara) takes her daughter Samantha and heads to Tampa to stay with her sister for a spell; basically, a nice opportunity to let things cool down and screw her head back on straight. It's during a seemingly routine stop for gas where Cassie meets Roy Scudder (a sleepwalking Burt Reynolds), a kindly, southern mechanic with an air of creepiness about him. Oh, and a flair for wristbands.

While "fixing the water pump" of her car, Roy tells Cassie about a shortcut that would trim aHe's overweight! He's eating! COMEDY! good hour off her travel time. Now, if Cassie had ever seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, she would've known better than to heed the advice of some hillbilly who works at a gas station; But Cassie, as it turns out, isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, and soon finds herself stranded on some Floridian backroad with an exploded water pump (surprise!) and absolutely no idea of her present location.

Before you can say Smokey and the Bandit, Roy appears, earnestly apologizing for his lousy job on the water pump, and offering to tow her car to his house to "fix it right," cook the ladies a little supper, and let Cassie use the phone to touch base with her sister.

So what would you do if you're a young woman with a small child, in the middle of nowhere, being offered to be taken to a complete stranger's house in the woods - not to mention the fact that the guy strikes you as somewhat of a nut? Sure! Hop right in his truck and away we go!

Upon arriving at the Scudder home, Cassie meets Roy's wife Georgina (Angie Dickinson!), who immediately mistakes the Osborne duo as her long-lostBurt: He kills cell phones DEAD! sister and niece, and though Cassie tries to inform Ms. Scudder that they've never met before, Georgina just won't be told any different. So, for those of you keeping count, we have one creepy gas station attendant, his wife, who is yet another fruitcake, and then factor in their psychotic daughter, Jill (who, in my opinion, was the kookiest of the lot), and you got yourself one wild dinner party!

It isn't until Samantha is dragged off kicking and screaming by Jill to "go play" - and Cassie, in turn, is locked in the bedroom of Georgina’s long-lost sister - that the young mother realizes: Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have followed this crazy redneck back to his secluded house in the woods…

You think?

After discovering that his wife and child had departed for Tampa without his knowledge, David Osborne panics when a police detective, Chicky Ross (whom I mistook as Newman from Seinfeld - thank you, IMDB), makes a stop by the house to question him on theiBurt and Mia ponder the possibility of THE MADDENING IIr disappearance. We soon come to discover, the sister in Tampa had called the police after Cassie had been long overdue to arrive, and since his sister-in-law never trusted David to begin with, this, hereby, made him a prime suspect in their disappearance.

After eventually parting company with Ross, David begins to trace Cassie's route down South. There is a great montage of scenes where David seems to be questioning every single person in Florida on his wife's whereabouts, showing each of them several pictures of the women in question, and illustrating the shortness of his daughter by placing his hand flush with his waist. See? This is what I mean by short, in case you were having trouble with the visualization.

Will Chicky Ross arrest David before he has a chance to clear his name?

Can Chicky Ross accomplish what Smokey never could, and that is, arrest that wily Bandit? And how many sandwiches will he eat in the process?

Does David ever find the Reynolds' residence, and thus, become a hero? And if he does, will Cassie and David be able to find it their hearts to mend their broken fences?

All that (and more) if you can endure this utter crap entitled The Maddening.

"Woo!"

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These are the times of which to cherish...

- The brilliant scene where Cassie attempts to dislodge a door jamb with her fingernail. Instead of the metal giving in, the nail, naturally, breaks in half. We then get to enjoy the process of Cassie yanking off the remainder of the nail from her wounded digit while grimacing in agony. Lovely.

- The touching scene where Roy drugs Cassie's milk, chains her to a bed, and has his way with her. Truly a highlight of Burt's career.

Immortal Burt Dialogue: "Steppin' on a gator, boy, ain't like steppin' on a custard pie!"

Whatever the hell that means.

 

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-- Copyright 2000 by J. Bannerman

 

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