Review: THURSDAY (R)

Aaron Eckhart and Paulina Porizkova.

U.S. Release Date: September 10, 1998

Running Time: 83 minutes

MPAA Classification: R (Language/sexual dialogue, violence, drugs, sexual situations, nudity)

Cast: Thomas Jane, Aaron Eckhart, Paulina Porizkova, James LeGros, Mickey Rourke, Michael Jeter, Paual Marshall, Glenn Plummer

Director: Skip Woods

Producers: Skip Woods, Alan Poul, Christine Sheaks,

Screenplay: Skip Woods

 

By STEPHEN EARNEST / November 20, 2010

Black comedy isn’t easy. Being funny and disturbing at the same time is a hard thing to do and often enough, the result isn’t as funny or as disturbing as you intended for it to be. You’ve got to make the audience feel bad for laughing. You’ve got to make them squirm in their seats while keeping a consistent comedic tone. When black comedy is done right, you get movies like Fargo and Pulp Fiction. When it’s done wrong, you get movies like Thursday.

The movie’s centered on Casey Wells (Thomas Jane), a guy who’s managed to clean up his otherwise shady past. He lives in a quaint little neighborhood with trimmed hedges and starch-white picket fences. He’s gotten married to a loving wife and is looking to adopt a child. Life seems pretty good. Well, until — yeah, you guessed it — his past manages to catch up with him.

And for Casey, his past comes in the form of Nick (Aaron Eckhart), an old friend from Casey’s drug dealing days. We already know Nick though from an earlier scene; a scene in which he unmercifully kills a gas station attendant over a cup of coffee. Nick and Casey talk for a bit, until Nick says he gotta leave and run some errands. But before he heads out, he dumps a couple of suitcases in one of the bedrooms. Eventually, Casey’s curiosity gets the better of him and he investigates the contents of the suitcases, only to discover in horror that they’re full of heroin.

Thursday is a droll, dreary, and distasteful mess that basically exists only as a way to exploit every taboo subject known to the movie world. Not only does it glorify violence without justification; it encourages it. It throws it onto the screen and tries to tone it down by adding a funny joke at the end, as if trying to make it seem like it’s okay. That, sir, is not black comedy.

To be as blunt as possible, the writer/director Skip Woods is a hack. He’s a cop-out, desperately trying to make something fresh out of a stale script. I strongly dislike referring to something as “Taratinoan”, but Thursday seems like one of the projects that Tarantino himself personally scrapped.

The biggest difference between Woods and Tarantino is that where Tarantino holds back, Woods doesn’t. He doesn’t just push the limits; he rips them apart and stomps them into the ground. He leaves nothing to the imagination at all, even when a little imagination would highly benefit his production. What looks good on paper often doesn’t transfer to the screen as well as it should, and nothing in Woods’ script looks good to begin with. It’s an ugly, shameful attempt to ride the Tarantino bandwagon to success, but Woods lacks the talent to do even that.

There is torture, prolonged rape, drug use, excessively brutal violence, graphic sexual dialogue, and language offensive not only to women and African-Americans, but to nearly all of the people that populate the continent of Asia. I was perplexed almost to a state of illness from what I saw and when it was finally over, I felt sickened by Woods for having made it and by the actors for having participated in it.

Thursday is filthy, inexcusable, reprehensible trash that fails in every way possible. It is not hip or original or funny even in slightest bit, and though I gather that it will retain it’s cult-like persona for years to come, there is not one redeeming quality about it.

RATING: .5/4

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