starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving
screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
directed by Joe Johnston
by Walter Chaw Gloriously, exuberantly awful, Joe Johnston's tone-perfect, imperfect-perfect update of Universal's horror legacy begs at any moment for grieving Gwen (Emily Blunt) to cry out, "He. Vas. My. BOYfriend!" It's easily the funniest movie I've seen in what seems forever--a comedy of imitation that clarifies, if anything, the extent to which our condescension to films from the '40s allows us to enjoy the Universal monster movies without irony. Not so lucky is this product of the post-modern era in which absolutely the only way to enjoy the film in any defensible way is to profess a deep knowledge and affection for the works of James Whale, Lon Chaney, and all the boys at the old studio who found themselves, not long into their run, making movie-mashups and Abbott & Costello vehicles. At the least, this redux demonstrates some respect for its source material, from its retro effects (credited to ace werewolf guy Rick Baker) to its joyful inability to assemble anything like a coherent narrative from the various bits and pieces Johnston and company have thrown into a bucket and then onto the screen. Consider the transition from a bloody, fountain-side flashback of dead mommy to prodigal son Lawrence (Benicio Del Toro) descending a few steps into a mysterious torture chamber beneath some kind of estate-bound cemetery, where his dad (Anthony Hopkins), eyes glowing mysteriously, advises that the beast "will out." It's really just a collection of non-sequiturs, of scenes that don't fit together in a landscape with no scale (Lawrence takes a full month to walk sixteen miles from London to his house and still manages to beat his carriage-riding pursuers there), strung together willy-nilly by Oedipal suggestions the film is clearly incapable, and uninterested, in exploring. The Wolfman is a big, giant, dumb movie made with such breathtaking stupidity that it actually ends with a "wolf-out" battle royale like the one in Mike Nichols's Wolf--the difference being that The Wolfman doesn't appear to take itself the tiniest bit seriously.