I am the bestest, bravest LJ friend ever. Make a note of it. I watch Vincent Kartheiser movies so you don’t have to.
The Vincent Kartheiser-a-thon continues with “Heaven Sent” and “Ricky 6”.
I decided to watch “Heaven Sent” first. I figured if Heaven Sent was as bad as I’d heard, then “Ricky 6” (which I’d heard was a scary gore flick) would come across as rather refreshing. Believe me, that was, this wasn’t, and it worked.
Heaven Sent (1994)
Other notables: Wilford Brimley, William Christopher
Summary: A juvenile delinquent gets hit by a car, which becomes the opportunity for an angelic intervention (sadly, that’s “angel” with a small ‘a’). The angel puts Eddie Chandler through his moral paces and lots of nifty lessons are learned about Being A Good Person.
Happy Vinnie/Fucked-up Vinnie: Fucked-up Vinnie (no really, he’s a certified juvenile delinquent – he has probation officers and everything!) who learns how to be
Stepford! Happy Vinnie. But it’s Fucked-up Vinnie with rosy cheeks and roller blades (*so cute*).
Brat quotient: 4/10. Alas, a movie where Vinnie is taught how *not* to be a brat and learns his lesson! Ergo, in the early part of the movie, the brat quotient is high. Yelling at his mom, leering at girls (who aren’t interested because “he’s a jerk!”), stealing things. Vinnie with an attitude! Then that blasted *angel* has to go mucking everything up. *sigh*
The Hair: Did I or did I not predict baseball caps! Yeah! Sadly, they only appear in the first scene. After that, you must contend with VK’s mid-length girly-hair.
And O.M.G. could VK look MORE like Michelle Trachtenberg? Yikes! Watch early Season 5 Dawn (or better yet, Harriet the Spy). They have the exact same face.
Bottom line: Campy acting, cheesy script, bad accents, plot devices that telegraph themselves from miles away, and religious allusions painted in primary colors without a hint of irony (seriously. Churches appear. Hymns get sung. Prayers are made and answered. The words F-A-I-T-H and P-R-A-I-S-E G-O-D get mentioned, more than once).
You gotta be in it purely for the adorable almost pre-teen VKness (he’s 14, but of course, on VK, that means he looks 10), otherwise, save yourself the pain of the anvil falling on your head. Unless you’re rather religious and have impressionable 5-year olds on the verge of a life of crime. Then it might be a family must-see.
There are some cute moments. VK in a bicycle helmet on the phone to heaven is very cute, and actually funny.
Ricky 6 (2000)
Summary: Ricky Cowen is an earnest enough, but insecure skinny high school loser (I mean, he’s on the football team, and the football players *still* beat him up in the halls) with an immature jerk for a father and stoners for friends. He just wants to have control of his own life, and discovers hallucinogens and Satanism one fine day. It’s a drug-addled roller-coaster ride from there, with ups and downs and pauses and the big stomach-lurching hill at the end.
Fucked-up Vinnie: Moogoo-mega Classical Fucked-up Vinnie. Angel Dust, Acid, Mescaline and Satan! In “Heaven Sent” one of the morals is you get the girl by being a nice guy, but Ricky gets the (very sweet) girl while drug-dealing and spouting Satanist doctrines. But honestly, he stays rather sympathetic up to the end. VK’s acting is, of course, stellar (if it wasn’t for that beatific smile and those other little facial expressions we know so well, I’d forget it was Vinnie).
Brat quotient: 4/10. Ricky goes from being the kid who gets stepped on to the kid who does the steppin’, but he’s really more of a messed-up kid than an actual get-on-your-nerves *brat*.
The Hair: VK with early 80’s stoner hair. Sometimes clean but stiff (when he’s trying to pick up chicks), sometimes limp and greasy (when he’s on a drug bender), sometimes in a ponytail (mostly during the Satan-worshiping) – a look never seen before or after for our boy.
Other notes: As a philosopher, I was intrigued by the depiction of Satanism in this movie. My knowledge of it is a bit sketchy, but it seemed a rather realistic portrayal of the religion (which is a motley mix of pre-Christian Paganism and distinctly anti-Christian ritual and symbolism).
The “religion” appeals to Ricky because it seems to be about empowerment: not putting up with shit the world dumps on you, embracing humanity’s “natural” instincts, throwing out hypocrisy. With the Devil backing him up, Ricky finds a new-found confidence and authority over others that was probably inside him all along but that he didn’t express out of fear.
The problem is, Satanism isn’t going to make the basic fear go away. It’s a religion that defines itself in direct opposition to another religion, and therefore takes as a basic premise the very authority it claims to reject.
Ricky mocks Christianity as “the religion of slaves, invented to comfort the poor and the weak”. He thinks if you reject Christianity’s doctrines, you embrace power. So you invert Christian symbols and rituals and tenets. You read passages of scripture backwards and say prayers and give praise to the villain of the Bible.
But that kind of direct rebellion and rejection of something is itself a sign of weakness and resentment. Ricky isn’t empowering himself so much as impotently announcing to the world that that the Establishment that is making his life such hell (whether it be his parents, the police, or the popular kids in the high school) “can’t touch me!”
But watch the scene where “Jesus Christ” chases him through the grocery store. He hasn’t empowered anything but his own weakness.
The movie is told from the point of view of Ricky’s best friend Tommy, so the ultimate conclusions are Tommy’s, not Ricky’s. Ricky’s friends are atheists to a person, and they interpret everything that happens as a journey into drug-induced psychosis (although mostly, they think it’s a joke. This was still the era of “play your records backwards and hear the rock group chant a message to the devil!!” after all).
Tommy’s conclusion is that Satan, if he even exists, is a trickster that screwed Ricky over, not giving him the power he “promised’ in exchange for devotion. But Ricky never loses his faith.
Bottom line: A must-see for Vinnie fans. If you can handle Another Day in Paradise, you can handle this. I like it better than ADiP, but that’s just me.
I think the only reason this movie isn’t available in the US is because the producer doesn’t know the distribution business. There certainly isn’t anything in this movie more disturbing than any other Vinnie outing (e.g., ADiP, C&PiS, Inside Out); it’s both visually and psychologically intriguing. There’s a murder scene, yes, but I wouldn’t call this movie a slasher or gore flick at all.
Ooh, I even have R6 icons:
Update: I just read on the Ricky 6 website that the guy who wrote Ricky 6 also wrote “The Craft” and “Flatliners”. Which should tell you something about the tone and quality of R6.