Thursday, January 31, 2013

A review of "Animal Room"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Animal Room”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Just because you recreate one scene from a movie, it does not give you the right as a film maker to call it a “modernization”.  This was a major problem with a lot of films that were made in the 1990’s.  Some of the most popular films written in the 1990’s were due to the laziness of Hollywood writers who would take old stories and plays and set them in present day to make the films story more relevant to the audience.  So stories like “Dangerous Liaisons” were modernized into films like “Cruel Intentions” and famous plays like “Romeo & Juliet” were set in more modern times for a younger and trendier audience to follow. However, I am quite insulted and thoroughly disappointed in the film I chose to review this week because it had the audacity to claim it was a modernization of one of my All-Time favorite films—A Clockwork Orange—when in all actuality it has very little in common with the film.  
     The film I am talking about is “Animal Room”. A film that boasts on its movie posters “Echoing Alarms of Clockwork Orange”.  That’s a pretty bold and outrageous claim for a virtually unknown film to make, and in my opinion, after having sat through this piece of crap, that claim does not live up to the same standard of filmmaking and prestige of Stanley Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange”.  So let’s not waste any more time and let’s divulge into this Clockwork Bastard called “Animal Room”.                      
So the film starts off really trying to milk in on the “grunge fad” that was popular in the early-to-mid 1990’s and shows members of the disenfranchised youth wandering the streets aimlessly without cause or purpose.  The leader of the group of rabble rousers is named Doug Van Housen (played by actor Matthew Lillard).  If I haven’t lost you on this film already by just dropping Lillard’s name, then don’t worry I’ll give you more reasons for why you should want to give up on this film and avoid it entirely.  Since Doug and his friends are so destructive and disruptive they are sent to a new and controversial education project called “the Animal Room” to be “re-educated” in their schools basements.  One of the other students selected for the program is named Arnold “Arnie” Mosk (played by an awkward post- Adolescent Neil Patrick Harris).  Arnie is a recovering drug addict, and despite frantic pleas from his school councilor Arnie is sent to the “Animal Room”, where he is the number one target of torment and abuse suffered at the hands of Douglas Van Housen and his group of friends.  Arnie turns back to drugs as an attempt to avoid his tormentors, but Doug is persistent and will not rest until he has destroyed Arnie’s life (and the lives of everyone around him).                   
Awww, Adorably Awkward Neil Patrick Harris
Good thing he grew into his good looks, right?
The first thing that’s wrong with this film is the way this film was shot.  The quality of picture in the film is so poor that this film looks more like it was a “Straight to Sh!t-eo” movie instead of actual film with a budget that got a release.  That may sound like I’m nitpicking, but when your film features big actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Matthew Lillard, and Amanda Peet, you would expect a better quality camera to make this film.  Granted none of these stars were as big as they are now when the film was made, but still you would think that this film would have tried to be a lot better.                               
You Were Shaggy in "Scooby-Doo", There's no way I'm
finding you to be the least bit intimidating, Matthew Lillard
Well now this certainly does look kind of awkward
   I cannot buy Matthew Lillard in the role of the bully, let alone a bully with psychopathic tendencies.  Lillard’s character dresses like some sort of Goth Reject, and he as an actor is just more of distraction to his role than anything.  Once you’ve seen him in other films like “SLC Punk” or “Scooby-Doo”, it really hard to take him seriously as anything, but a fun loving goofball.  I don’t believe that Matthew Lillard is a terrible actor I only believe that he takes too many terrible roles.  Also Lillard isn’t really all that reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal of Alex DeLarge.  Yes, he plays a sociopath who doesn’t know right from wrong, and enjoys hurting other people, and orchestrates a home invasion/gang rape with a group of his friends, but those are really more of coincidences then a modernization.  It’s like saying Alex DeLarge is a modernization of Norman Bates from “Psycho”. Both characters do share some similarities, but they are not the same people and have distinctive differences.
         Another reason why I believe that this film is not a modernization is because in “A Clockwork Orange” the entire film was told from the perspective of one person in narration form, the Anti-Hero, Alex DeLarge.  “Animal House” has no narration and is told from the perspectives of Doug, Arnie, and Arnie’s best friend.  That’s too many perspectives for just one film that’s claiming to be the modernization of an already well known film.                                                          Also, the so-called “Animal Room” is rarely shown or referenced in the film.  At the very beginning of the film the teachers are up in arms about how “controversial and dangerous” this new education technique is, but they rarely show the students in the Animal Room.  Occasionally we get a shot of the students sitting around in the Animal Room looking bored, while a projection of a man in a black coat and sunglasses plays on the wall, but it has very little to do with the Ludivico Technique.  None of the kids are strapped in a chair or being forced against their will to watch this projection.  They just get up freely and move on and carry on with their own business for the most part instead of watching the man projected n the wall.  The sound is so poor in the film, that I couldn’t even here what the man projected on the screen was saying, so therefore the Animal Room is totally ineffective.                       
Sorry guys, not even You Could Stop this movie from Sucking
This film was a great disappointment to watch.  It’s grainy, it’s confusing, it’s really all over the place and has no real central focus, and it is just embarrassing that this film had the balls to compare itself to a film as great as “A Clockwork Orange”.  The only good things about the film that I feel are worth mentioning it that the Punk Rock Legends “The Misfts” does make their first ever cameo appearance in this film and also, once you see the parts in the film where Neil Patrick Harris’s character takes drugs, then you’ll understand why studios would later cast him in the “Harold & Kumar” films, other than that there are no reasons whatsoever for why you should ever want to watch the 1995 film “Animal Room”.


  1. This is an epic film. Sorry u missed that.

  2. You make some good points but basically limiting lillard to a "fun loving goofball" is kind of asinine i personally believe Mathew did wonderful as Doug but I suppose as a goth reject myself my opinion is a little biased