Every once in a while, a fantastic movie event comes to us, a perfect alignment of acting, writing, and direction what creates a perfect storm of cinema, providing great entertainment that we will remember for years to come. Winter’s Tale is one of those movies.
And it is terrible. And it is hilarious.
This is a movie where everything seems to go wrong, and the result is not only a mangled mess of a film, but is so mangled in all the right ways that you have to wonder who in their right mind would have signed off on making this film a reality. That said, Winter’s Tale does seem to target the love-for-love’s-sake obsessed Twilight demographic, so maybe this film’s producers couldn’t be bothered. All in all, though, if you’re a fan of horrible cinema, Winter’s Tale may just fill your WTF quotient.
Colin Ferrell plays a man named Peter Lake, who finds a magic horse while running away from a gangster named Pearly, played by Russell Crowe, in early 20th century New York. The horse then takes him to meet a woman dying of consumption who he immediately falls in love with because of destiny or some bullshit. Pearly turns out to be a demon bent on preventing miracles from happening, and he goes after Peter and his lady love to prevent him from performing a miracle and saving her life. But then, the girl dies, and Pearly kills Peter. Or so Pearly thinks! Because Peter’s alive, but has amnesia, and lives until the present day without aging, and then suddenly doesn’t have amnesia, and saves a little girl with cancer, and turns Pearly into a snowman. Yeah. This movie makes just as much goddamn sense as that synopsis would lead you to believe. The plot is all over the place, offers little in the way of explanation that isn’t just vague gibberish, and its pacing goes right out the window about two-thirds of the way through. And I can’t help but laugh at it.
The performances in this film feel so genuine too, which only adds to the comedy. To see Colin Ferrell weep over his ill-defined character of a love interest feels like it belongs in a much better film, but here it comes off as over the top and silly. Russell Crowe absolutely chews up the scenery as the villain, and he’s clearly having fun just being the two-dimensional villain that he’s written as, spouting nonsensical exposition about miracles and angels and stars like saying it in a gravelly voice will somehow make it able to be taken seriously. The only one who truly seems to realize just how much a shit show this production is turns out to be Will Smith as Lucifer, who lives in a sewer and disappears when you turn out the lights. Watching him say his lines with a bored expression and a cartoon Satan shadow dancing behind him is about as apt an image as this film deserves to represent it.
I wouldn’t even mind the silliness if any of it made any sort of coherent sense. Everything in this film ostensibly takes place in the real world, yet Pearly runs around with a demon face and a legion of henchmen, a horse grows fairy wings and flies around, and Peter lives for a century without growing old, and NOBODY SO MUCH AS RAISES AN EYEBROW! It’s impossible to take any of this fantastical imagery seriously if it has no impact on the characters or the world they inhabit. A film needs to ground itself in some sort of relatable framework of cause and effect, or else nothing that happens in the film will feel part of a cohesive world. So instead, here is a film that amounts to a cinematic equivalent of an infant's hanging mobile, supposedly enthralling us with the pretty images dangling in front of our noses, but with little context, substance, or interconnectivity between them.
And yet, I found myself chuckling at just how stupid this film turned out to be. It’s trying to be a story about true love, but instead doesn’t know what it’s about, stumbling over its own mythology like a pre-schooler telling you about a movie they saw while half awake and dreaming of unicorns. I can’t wait for the guys over at Rifftrax to take a stab at this one, because it is that caliber of bad. It’s not exactly the next The Room or Troll 2, but if you’re looking for a new film to build a drinking game around, Winter’s Tale may fit the bill. Otherwise, stay away.
Have a favorite terrible movie? Let me know in the comments below.