There's stupid, and then there's The Darwin Awards. A stupid movie about stupid people, the film is poorly executed and looks like it was built on a budget of $10 - $10 Canadian, that is - yet oddly features a cast that includes Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder and other recognizable and talented actors.
The Darwin Awards is, of course, based on the unofficial awards that highlight the dumbest deaths ever reported. These are deaths that could have been so easily avoidable that the only logical explanation is the people who "killed themselves" were so stupid that their deaths actually helped improve the gene pool - hence the Darwin Awards. The movie, however, pieces together some of the most well known deaths ever reporting (an idiot, played by David Arquette, straps a jet engine to his car and ends up crashing into the side of the cliff) by following a shy, awkward but intelligent ex-cop who starts working for an insurance company to investigate a bunch of weird deaths.
The movie has its entertaining moments, but it's impossible to get past the fact that it was so lazily put together. Writer/director Finn Taylor apparently thought he was funny enough to deliver a movie like this, but how foolish men can be when handed free money. The movie is told in mock documentary format, and even includes such antics as the cameraman getting yelled at when he doesn't help one of the characters escape from a precarious position. The whole idea and concept is just silly, and the only way this movie would have worked had it been a real documentary and focused solely on all of the weird deaths. Instead, we get a movie that looks like crap and features several semi-big actors proving that someone has enough dirt on them to blackmail them into starring in something like this.
To cap things off, none of the characters are very likable and Joseph Fiennes is terrible. Not only is his character a sheepish dweeb, but everything about him is so subdued that he adds absolutely nothing to the movie. Fiennes has delivered great performances in the past, but is just awful here. Ryder holds up a bit better, but her character is quite obnoxious. The presence of the cameraman as a character falls flat time and time again.
The Darwin Awards could have worked had the stars aligned just right, but Taylor wasn't the man to put things together. I'm amazed the movie even made it to DVD, let alone theaters.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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