Who's In It: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn
The Basics: Let's see…how to explain this movie? Baby Doll (Browning) gets thrown in a mental institution by her horrible, abusive stepfather. Then what happens after that is anyone's guess. I think she is so distraught at being locked up unjustly that she retreats into some kind of fantasy world where girls only wear really awesome bustiers and thigh-highs and fly through the air with machine guns. It's layers upon layers upon layers of not story, but...what's the word? Oh right. Production design.
What's The Deal: This movie is very stylistic and well-designed. It's dark, grungy, and even the girls running around in sparkly panties look tired and dusty. Everyone's eyeliner is smeared, and the chaise lounges sag and beg to be reupholstered. The computer-generated images in the film are pretty spectacular, ranging from robots to dragons to samurai, and there's lots of fire and flying kicks. If that's all you want in your films, you will be in fishnet and garter heaven (aka Courtney Love Heaven). However, if you need any inkling of motivated behavior or a plot point that makes sense, skip this film, because there are very few to be found. The film is like if you asked your hippest aunt to make you a quilt of cool things like fantasy fighting, half-naked girls, and covers of good songs, but she got distracted by her unemployed drummer boyfriend asking for cigarette money and the cat barfing up her hemp necklace, so it just turned out to be a poncho of sadness that your friends didn't even bother making fun of you for wearing.
Where Do I Begin? The movie is filled with points that you have to double suspend your already-suspended disbelief for, making it a really difficult to appreciate anything in it--especially because the movie repeats the same pattern at every beat. Once Baby Doll has a vision of what five items she needs to find in order to escape her captors, it goes like this: She stares vacantly into space, swaying like you would on a boat in rough seas. A creepy cover of a song I like begins to play really loudly. Then, without us seeing her "amazing dancing" that is distracting everyone so much from noticing the thieving hookers rifling through their pockets, she and her girlfriends destroy (insert name of fantastical nemesis here). They return to the real world and celebrate in a subdued, broken-down-orphan kind of way, and then the whole process starts over. No time was spent telling a story that engaged me emotionally. It doesn't have to be Paddy Chayefsky--but to give us nothing? I was almost insulted. And then someone's thigh-highs twinkled and I forgot how outraged I was for another three minutes.
What Does It All Mean? I found myself wondering why this movie is called Sucker Punch. Is it because when you pay for a ticket, this movie assaults you before you even have a chance to finish your first mouthful of popcorn? Or possibly because we owe screenwriters Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya a punch in the gut for giving studios an argument against making movies from completely original material?