American Psycho II: All American Girl
*/**** Image B- Sound B Extras B
starring Mila Kunis, Geraint Wyn Davies, William Shatner, Robin Dunne
screenplay by Alex Sanger and Karen Craig
directed by Morgan J. Freeman
by Walter Chaw That William Shatner is the best actor in Morgan J. Freeman's direct-to-video American Psycho 2 (a.k.a. American Psycho II: All American Girl), as easy a barnside to strike as almost any in popular culture, is one of those things that is taken with ironic mirth when it should be taken as a stern warning. Rachel (an overmatched Mila Kunis) as a little girl kills Patrick Bateman--the anti-hero of Mary Harron's sometimes-brilliant '80s exposé American Psycho--while he's in the act of murdering her babysitter. That Bateman is not actually a killer doesn't seem all that important to the makers of this picture, a moronic cross between Murder 101 and Heathers with none of the camp value of the former and none of the intelligence of either.
Shatner is Bobby, Rachel's criminal-profiling professor several years later (Rachel intends, of course, to be a literal psycho-killer), whose quest for a new teaching assistant leads Rachel on a rampage microwaving cats and using an ice-pick inappropriately. Set and scored to a morbid, pseudo-ironic mambo, American Psycho 2 takes aim at the same societal ennui attacked in/by the first film but lacks anything resembling satirical bite--or comic timing, really. It's squeamish in its depiction of violence (save a sort of nifty opening sequence), making it cowardly and disingenuous, and a scene that Shatner plays opposite the gapingly untalented Kunis (she blowing deadly kisses, he swooning) makes it a very special breed of unbearable. The first mistake, I suspect, is casting Shatner as a legendary professor and Kunis as a brilliant college student--where's Pauly Shore as the rocket scientist? If you somehow have the constitution to suffer through the entire shipwreck, fair warning that a tacked-on epilogue is exactly the kind of garbage people mean when they talk about how much movies suck nowadays.
American Psycho 2 finds itself on an unbelievably-packed DVD courtesy Trimark, who, in collaboration with Lions Gate, appear to have tried to tie in a wretched slash-and-hack flick with a bankable franchise. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture looks unsurprisingly like it was shot on a low budget and rushed to video: lots of edge enhancement problems rule the day, but noisy grain has its say as well. A shame the image is clear enough to betray the sad fact that the film's extras are wholly incapable of pretending they're dead--that is unless corpses blink and twitch these days. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix sounds pretty good, though it's not exactly dynamic--a few atmospherics work the side channels now and again, and the dialogue (especially in the case of piping Kunis) is excruciatingly clear.
The first of a pair (!) of commentary tracks features director Freeman, "actress" Kunis, and a lot of lulls and giggling, much awkward flirting and joking, and a few bimbo moments ("Those aren't real flies--those are fake computer flies") that combine to make the listening experience almost identical to watching the film with its original soundtrack. The second yakker (and it need not really be said, but maybe a dozen films in history warrant two commentary tracks) is Freeman's alone. Indicated by fewer lulls (oddly enough), Freeman's feature-length gabfest is mainly interested in the technical innovations of low-budget filmmaking, which may prove a little interesting to aspiring filmmakers of independently-produced detritus.
An alternate opening features altogether too much of a bad fake Shemp and a worse child actor (though it does restore a head in the refrigerator); an unforgivable "outtakes" reel shows crew members acting out, Shatner futzing about, Kunis misunderstanding her lines and freaking out, and the revelation that this film used to be called "The Girl Who Would Not Die;" and a handful of deleted scenes demonstrate that for as bad as this all is, the bottom is lower. A tragically-uninspired trailer rounds out the disc. Originally published: September 17, 2002.