Monday, September 15, 2008

Witness

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Witness
and I go back a long way. About as far back as humanly possible, in fact. When I was a mere infant, my mother brought me home from the hospital and watched this movie as she held me, making it the first movie I ever saw in my life (and destining me to love Harrison Ford).

We open in Amish country with the wind blowing through the grass and some truly heinous synthesizer music twinkling in the background, begging the question, are synthesizers allowed in Amish country? I should think (and hope) not. Now we’re at a funeral but we can’t understand what anybody is saying because they’re speaking Amish language although in the next scene they will inexplicably switch to English. I guess English really is the best language in which to reminisce about horse testicles like these men are about to do. OMG, the Amish are just like us! Rachel, the widow of the dead man, is being comforted by some women, and a big blonde dude henceforth known as Blondie comes to offer his condolences/lay the groundwork for his future macking because if there’s one thing you can unequivocally say about Blondie it’s this: he has class.

Rachel is now going to the “big city” for reasons that are never really explained except in the vaguest terms with her little son Samuel, and Blondie has come to see them off. He gives Samuel the lamest toy of all time (a wooden sheep), but not before kneeling down and telling him “You will see sooooo many things!” (WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE) while creepily leering at him. I can almost hear the writers clapping each other on the back for their cleverness.

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Before they get on the train, Blondie tries to mack on Rachel and as the train pulls away, they see him riding alongside on his horse cart waving at them. All he’s missing is a boombox blasting “In Your Eyes.”

Once at the train station, Rachel and Samuel look like a pair of freaks as illustrated by the curious glances of passersby. This particular little girl needs no embellishment:

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Their train to Baltimore is delayed three hours, but Samuel doesn’t care because he is the most easily amused child of all time and kills a few minutes playing with the drinking fountain, approaching a random Hasidic Jew thinking he’s a fellow Amish and staring at a weird statue that you would think would tie into the story somehow considering we’re forced to stare at it for an eternity while the twinkly synthesizers go off in the background, but it totally doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Time passes and little Samuel needs to use the facilities, but unfortunately the idea of actually closing the stall door eludes him so he has a perfect crack from which to watch Danny Glover draw on some guy’s neck with a red Sharpie by which I mean slit some dude’s throat.


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After making weird squeaky breathing noises for no reason, Samuel decides that the best way to make sure Danny Glover doesn’t find him in his stall is to lock the door, and only at the last possible moment escape into the neighboring stall. Apparently Danny Glover thinks a ghost spontaneously decided to lock the door because when he kicks it down and sees nobody there, he decides the coast is clear.

Later, the station is swarming with cops. Enter Harrison Ford. Everybody’s life gets just a little bit better at this moment. Some guy tells Harrison that the person who saw the murder is the “kid in the funny black threads” because all black people in this movie are forced to talk as though they come from a bad 70s movie. Harrison comes to question Samuel, telling him that it was a cop who got killed, and Samuel tells him that the man he saw looked like Harrison’s partner (meaning black) except not a shrimpy girly man, but rather a “big guy!” like Harrison (who looks rather amused/pleased with himself). Meanwhile, Harrison’s partner’s mustache is totally turning everybody on.

Harrison takes Rachel and Samuel to look at a “suspect” by which he means some random black guy because there really isn’t much else for them to be going off of at this point, but it’s totally not him. Harrison and Co. spend a lot of time LOLing at Rachel, especially when she tells them that she doesn’t want any part of their laws. What insensitive pigs! Samuel asks what Harrison’s name is and Rachel doesn’t give a fuck, but he tells her anyway that his name is John Book. As in “by the book” so we totally know that he is a good guy.

John is afraid that Rachel and Samuel will do a runner if they stay at a hotel, so he foists them upon his be-mulleted sister who is not altogether happy about the arrangement because she is a total slutbag and has a man over. Sister Elaine is the source of many conversational LOLs such as:

Elaine: Who are these Mormons anyway?
John: They’re Amish!
AND
Elaine: John says you’re Amish.
Rachel: (really super cheerfully) Yes!
Elaine: ….Oh.

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The next day John forces Samuel to look at photos and lineups of every black man in the entire world (one of whom looks remarkably like Miss J from America's Next Top Model).

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Rachel continues to whine about wanting to go home, telling John that she doesn’t like her son spending so much time with a man “who carries a gun and goes around whacking people.” John takes Rachel and Samuel out for some hot dogs and Rachel shares a treasure trove of fun facts Sister Elaine told her about him because Amish people are good and honest and forthright and basically without tact. Apparently Slutty Elaine thinks John needs to start a family but is too afraid of the responsibility. Samuel belches which smoothes things over.


Back at the office, Samuel decides to wander around aimlessly while John is on the phone. Seriously, didn’t he learn his lesson last time he wandered off on his own? He lets random office people ruffle his hair and offer him cookies because apparently nobody has ever taught him about stranger danger and he eventually finds himself staring into a trophy cabinet where GASP OMGOMG he sees a newspaper clipping with a picture of DANNY GLOVER!!!!! He uses his telekinetic Amish powers to get John’s attention from across the room and shows him that he’s found the murderer and John is like OMGWTF.

John goes to see his old friend and fellow cop Chief Paul Schaeffer

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and tells him that Danny Glover is the bad guy and that apparently he ran some drug raid a while ago where the confiscated drugs went missing. Meanwhile I’m wondering why, if he already knew this, John didn’t ask any questions about it before, but whatever. Paul feigns shock and horror and disbelief but you can totally tell he’s going to turn out to be a secret douche and plot twist accomplice.

Even though time is of the essence and lives are hanging in the balance etc etc, John has apparently stopped to pick up his dry cleaning on his way home and is just bringing it in when Danny Glover emerges out of the darkness and they have a shootout in the parking garage. After a few minutes Danny decides to give it up as a bad job and drives away, compelling John to yell after him “I KNOW YOU, ASSHOLE!” which totally leads me to believe that Wes Anderson was watching Witness when he wrote The Royal Tenenbaums. Anyhow, John is such a badass that he doesn’t even realize he’s been shot until he starts bleeding all over his dry cleaning and is like WTF that can’t be good.

He goes to collect Rachel and Samuel from Mulletland and drives them back to Amish country where they may not have cars and refrigerators but at least they have sensible haircuts. On the way, he calls his trusty partner to get all of the paperwork for the case destroyed because all he cares about is protecting Samuel because he is SUCH A GOOD GUY. He warns his partner that Schaeffer is in on it so he should watch his back, so we now totally know that he and his mustache are gonna get whacked. The bad guys go to question Lady Mullet and we find that one of them is named “Fergie” so I’m now officially going to have “My Humps” in my head for the rest of the movie and I also hope that this guy ends up peeing his pants at some point so that life imitates art.

We’re now back in Amish land where OMG ROLE REVERSAL, John is the freak fish out of water. He doesn’t intend to stick around but unfortunately as he’s driving away he succumbs to I-Got-Shot-eosis and crashes into a birdhouse. Through the agonizing pain, John once again proves that he is SUCH A GOOD GUY by refusing to go to a hospital so that the cops can’t find Samuel. Everybody’s heart is warmed. They cart John back to the house where Rachel tells them that he can’t go to a hospital and says that they have to pray that he doesn’t die, not because she gives a fuck but because it will be way too messy and complicated to hide his corpse from the cops. In lieu of real medicine, a fake Amish doctor prescribes some bullshit poultice and homebrewed tea which, along with Rachel’s godly presence by his sickbed manages to cure John. More importantly, Harrison Ford is shirtless for this entire sequence. There is a hilarious moment where he is delirious with fever and cursing in his sleep but it totally seems like he’s yelling at her if taken out of context.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Danny Glover and Co. are trying to find Rachel and Samuel but unfortunately 90% of Amish people have the same last name and they don’t have phones so they can’t call anybody about it! Oh, those Amish!

Samuel has a real talent for trouble and starts fiddling around with John’s loaded gun. John flips out and teaches him some basic gun safety rules, namely, stay the fuck away from my gun. He tells Samuel that he didn’t mean to yell at him, but he just wants to make sure that he doesn’t get hurt because he is SUCH A GOOD GUY! Rachel is not really pleased when she walks in on the boys playing with the gun, and John tells her to hide it wherever she wants. She holds it like it’s a dead rat. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford is still shirtless which is awesome.

Now we get a little trip into Amish pacifist philosophy courtesy of Rachel’s dad who teaches Samuel that the “gun of the hand” is built to take human life and only God should have that power and blah blah blah but Samuel is totally unconvinced because he’s seen what bad men do and wants to kill them all.

The next day, John insists on going into town to call his partner. Rachel gives him some of her dead husband’s Amish clothes and then LOLs at him when he puts them on. I like a girl who can LOL! She is the first of many to tell John that he looks “plain” which is totally impossible because no matter what he’s wearing, Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford and Harrison Ford is a babe.

They go into town and John calls his partner who warns him against coming back to sort things out because he’s too hot. Truer words have never been spoken.


John spends some quality time with Samuel who shows him the future site of one of the greatest movie deaths of all time and then teaches him how to pet a kitten which gets a resounding AWWWW.

Now that he’s healthy again, John is put on cow milking duty. Culture shock time! John is woken up at 4:30 AM which totally blows his mind. Rachel’s dad shows him how to milk a cow but he has some trouble squeezing the udder, leading Eli to ask “You never had your hands on a teat before?” to which John replies “Not one this big!” Eli pauses a second and then LOLs mightily because OMG, the Amish are just like us!


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After breakfast, Blondie comes to visit and meets John for the first time. He tells John that he looks very plain and, unlike Rachel, makes it sound like an insult. He then tries to put the moves on Rachel by doing the lame Amish cousin of the yawn and put your arm around her shoulder but she is totally unimpressed because HELLO Harrison Ford!

Later, Rachel comes across John trying to make a replacement birdhouse and gives him a glass of lemonade which he drinks all in one gulp, proving that he is a REAL MAN and epically turning Rachel on. They then have possibly the most hilarious conversation of all time.

Rachel: You know carpentry!
John: Yeah, a bit.
Rachel: Can you do anything else?
John: Whacking. I’m hell at whacking.
Rachel: Whacking’s not much use on a farm. [A fellow viewer here astutely notes “On the contrary!”] Tomorrow I’ll [surreptitious look at John’s crotchal region] let out those trousers for you.
John: [looking down at his own crotchal region] Good.

It’s now night and Rachel is watching John work on his car. She tells him that he’s invited to join the upcoming barn raising. He manages to get the radio working and they dance around the barn to “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke. I can’t say whether Amish people are allowed to dance, but I’m pretty sure that they’re not supposed to listen to the radio. They have the same moment of being on the verge of making out about six times before Eli comes in and rains on their parade. He is super pissed and tells Rachel that people are gossiping about her and John and that some people are saying she should be SHUNNED which is bad news. She says that he should be ashamed of himself and that she hasn’t done anything wrong. NOT YET at least.

Things are getting sticky for John’s expendable black partner back at the office. He refuses to talk to Schaeffer which is a sure way to end up on the wrong end of a gun of the hand.

Luckily this downer moment doesn’t last long as we cut to the barn raising. Blondie asks John if his “hole” is better now which is LOLworthy. When John says he’s pretty much healed, Blondie says “Good, then you can go home!” which is a huge diss by Amish standards. John is introduced to Viggo Mortensen who is always kind of making eyes at him from this point on, and really, who can blame him?


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Then they spend a while raising the barn which is heartwarming and all, but this shot reminds me irresistibly of a famous scene from The Birds:


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While the men are working, Rachel is quilting with some old ladies, one of whom slyly tells her that everybody thinks she’s a ho. And she totally is, as we’ll see quite soon (in case you couldn’t already tell from the whacking/letting out the trousers conversation).

It’s thunderstorming which is the director’s way of letting us know that John is suffering some major inner turmoil about whether or not to bang Rachel. We’re now treated to some sultry shots of Rachel giving herself a sponge bath… with the door open! Scandal! John walks in on her and she gives him a come hither look like the ho that she is. John may be good at raising barns, but Rachel sure knows how to pitch a tent! John is embarrassed and leaves, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to have to do some whacking tonight! The next day John explains to Rachel that if they had done the deed he would have had to stay or she would have had to go but she still seems pretty miffed.

John takes another trip to the pay phone, and on his way an obnoxious tourist lady tries to take his picture. He looks at her menacingly and says “Lady, if you take my picture with that thing I’m gonna rip your brassiere off and strangle you with it!” I’m not going to lie, if Harrison Ford said that to me I’d be totally turned on. John calls his partner and is informed that, you guessed it, he’s been killed “in the line of duty.” Whoops! John decides enough is enough and calls Schaeffer to tell him that he’s going to come find him and fuck him up.

On the way back, some douchey big city folk start harassing them and smearing ice cream on Blondie’s face and stuff so John decides to take matters into his own hands and beats the shit out of them, thus making it very easy for the cops to figure out where he is. But John is a badass and cannot be stopped.

Back at home, Samuel is playing with a wooden marble machine thingy that John made for him and which is epically cooler than Blondie’s stupid wooden sheep. Rachel now somehow knows that he’s going to go home and is not all too pleased. She very symbolically takes off her Amish bonnet and marches outside to where he’s putting up the new birdhouse and they start making out rather violently. It’s about damn time!

Unfortunately, the party ends here because Schaeffer and Co. have finally found the Lapp farm and have brought a lot of guns of the hand with them. Rachel won’t tell them where John is, so they go searching. Eli shouts a warning to John and gets smacked by Danny Glover. Meanwhile, John and Samuel are hiding in the barn. John tells Samuel to run to Blondie’s farm and stay there because he is SUCH A GOOD GUY! He then fruitlessly tries to start up his car but all it does is make a lot of noise so Fergie comes looking for him. Oh Fergie, your fate awaits! John climbs the ladder to the top of the corn silo where Fergie becomes convinced he’s hiding. He climbs into the silo and John releases the corn which buries Fergie who suffocates. It’s the coolest movie death ever. For real.


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Danny Glover and Schaeffer go to investigate in the barn and when they leave the house, Eli sees that Samuel has returned for no reason and tells him to ring the bell so an Amish posse can gather and intimidate the bad guys with their godly pacifist ways or something. John digs Fergie’s shotgun out of the corn and shoots Danny Glover. Schaeffer confronts John in front of the barn while a bunch of Amish people flock to stand there and do nothing. John yells at Schaeffer for a while and he has a change of heart and surrenders his gun. I guess it’s hard to shoot somebody when that many Amish people are staring at you judgmentally.

So now all is right in Whoville, and John shares a tender moment in the grass with Samuel before leaving forever. Rachel can go back to being Amish again and marry Blondie and John can go strangle women with their brassieres and bicker with Sister Mullet. A happy ending for all!

1 comment:

chris said...

Haha. I love the Birds picture.