Who's in It:
Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman, Rachel Hurd-Wood
The Basics: A nasal savant obsessed with making the most incredible perfumes ever decides that in order to accomplish this task he has to start killing beautiful women to get their particular aromas apparently chicks smell best when they're freshly sacrificed into his collection of essential oils. Now that's a plotline. Too bad it sounds a lot cooler than it is.
What's the Deal? It's based on Patrick Suskind's weirdo novel, and it's from German director Tom Tykwer (who made the groovy Run Lola Run and The Princess and the Warrior), so I kind of had my hopes up. It scores major points early on for being more than sufficiently strange what with a camera traveling up the main character's nostril and then tour-guiding you for the first five minutes rubbing your face in visual representations of the grossest smelling stuff the world has to offer. And that's before the murdering even begins. So far so good, right? That's what I thought, too. Then Hoffman shows up and really stinks up the place.
How Hoffman Accomplishes Killing Off This Movie: And it has nothing to do with his powdered wig and rosy makeup making him appear sort of Tootsie-ish. It has everything to do with the weird accent he's trying to spit out that makes him sound like a cross between Garry Marshall and Bela Lugosi. And then there's his couch-gnawing delivery of lines like, "To be a per-FYOOO-MAH you must blah, blah, blah, etc." He comes off like a modern urban mensch with a harebrained get-rich-quick scheme that he JUST HAS TO TELL YOU ABOUT. Not a sophisticated perfumer from a few hundred years back. I should not be cracking up just listening to an actor speak.
I Know I Won't Be the Only Movie Critic to Say This, but I'm Going to Say It Anyway: Where are the scratch-and sniff-Odorama cards? If a zero-dollar-budget movie like Polyester can deliver the goods on that front, then why can't Paramount/DreamWorks? Did they think it would be tacky? Did they think this movie that's already out of its mind would be cheapened by something so gimmicky? Will someone please put the fun back into cinema?