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Monday, August 24, 2015

Bad Movie Month lets Marky Mark show us the meaning of Fear

For our finale in this year's Bad Movie Month theme of Sorry Singers On Screen, we turn to Mark "Marky Mark" Wahlberg in 1996's Fear, his first leading role in a film.

Marky Mark played David, a twenty something guy that is dating slightly rebellious Nicole(Reese Witherspoon), who is only sixteen. David and Nicole's developing relationship is troubling her dad Steven (William Peterson) , who is rightly suspicious of his daughter's seemingly polite and sincere new beau.

Early on, the dynamic that places Nicole in the middle of a very twisted love triangle between David and Steven is established in a secret car on the side of the road confrontation scene as Marky Mark reveals his dark nature to dear old dad. The undercurrent of competition between these two is especially creepy, as Nicole almost seems to be simply an excuse for the two of them to show off their alleged manliness there:

It takes Nicole awhile to catch on that David's bad news, even when she witnesses him beating up her platonic male friend Gary out of supposed jealousy and gets a black eye herself in the bargain.

That does cause a riff but as soon as Steven forbids her to see David, she immediately rushes back to him. Only when Nicole spies on David at the house he shares with a pack of sleazy looking dudes(one of whom is dating her gal pal Margo,played by Alyssa Milano), that she buys a clue about just how messed up her misunderstood Romeo is.

That leads me into the female relationships in this movie, which are absolutely terrible. Not only do they fail the Bechdel test, as nearly every conversation between any of the female characters involve either David,Steven or both, but a strong amount of slut shaming goes on here.

 From Nicole's stepmom(Amy Brenneman) who critiques her step daughter's make-up as "slutty" and then later on bonds with her by helping to cover up that black eye from David, believing the lame excuse that the injury came from volleyball during gym(which she truly buys, based on some later dialogue). Yeah, great parenting skills there, lady!

Worst of all, Nicole peeks into David's house and sees her friend Margo getting high on the lap of her grimy looking boyfriend(and I do mean grimy, he looks like a pile of oily rags come to life) and then David forces Margo to say she wants him, which ends up with him throwing her over his shoulder in cave man fashion and taking her off to his lair.

Nicole is naturally upset at seeing this and quickly breaks things off with David. However, she also gives Margo the cold shoulder and when confronted by her, accusing Margo of "betraying" her! Now, I would buy this a lot better if Nicole had found out that Margo and David had been together via a third party but she saw the whole damn thing!

 Yes, you could make a case that women in these situations do tend to turn on each other rather than the guy(as daytime court shows provide proof in abundance of that) but I really don't see the need for that to be in this way for the story,such as it is, to work. Since the screenplay had some uncredited co-writing help from director James Foley, I wonder if that choice was decided upon the visual impact on screen rather than the right emotional development for the characters involved.

Anyhow, back to Marky Mark, who starts going off the deep end at this latest rejection. From carving "Nicole 4 Eva" on his chest(which he never shows off to the object of his obsession, something that I think a demented suitor might want to do) to stalking his former lady love in a bathroom stall, it's clear that we are now in the Fatal Attraction portion of the film:

Steven, while concerned for Nicole, seems more upset when he finds his car trashed by David, who leaves a note saying "Now I popped both of your cherries!"- yeah, not too subtle with the symbolism there, dude.

This leads to Steven trashing the already trashy house that David and his funky bunch(who are some sort of criminal gang) and then a full on assault on Steven's home, which is supposed to have the best in security, ensues. Too bad that Nicole didn't mention that she gave David the code to the alarm way before he and his boys started storming the castle!

Yep, we've got a little Straw Dogs mixed into this mess, which doesn't make things any better but does provide a special scare moment for David at the front door peephole, which I think we all know all too well by now:

Despite the bad reviews, Fear did very well at the box office and still has a bit of a cult following to this day. Nevertheless, the underwritten characters and cobbled together plot points do make it a solid stinker.

 Marky Mark has gone on to bigger and better acting gigs( better is pretty debatable, as his stints in The Happening and Ted 2 can attest to) but his over the top performance in Fear is a noteworthy step on his cinematic career ladder.

Thank you all for checking out Bad Movie Month with me and yes, there are possible plans for the 2016 theme in the works, but let's see how things go in the new year. As we say farewell, our last Sorry Singer musical number is the infamous roller-coaster scene, set to the tune of "Wild Horses" by Sunday.

 Marky Mark did have one of his rap songs featured briefly in the movie but this is the song that everyone remembers. Yeah, nothing says true love like holding hands on an amusement park ride, even if it's not exactly another hand being held:

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