Four friends from childhood: Henry, a suicidal psychiatrist (Thomas Jane), Jonesy, a psychic teacher (Damian Lewis), Pete, a car salesman good at finding lost stuff (Timothy Olyphant), and not-much-going-for-him Beaver (Jason Lee) return to their cabin in the woods for their annual hunting trip. Unfortunately, they’re accosted by a variety of aliens, from the cultured and intelligent (but evil) Mr. Grey, to “shit weasels,” who have the nasty habit of invading the human body and exiting from the rear. Jonesy is possessed by Mr. Grey, while Pete is in a car accident, Beaver is trapped with a poop creature, and Henry winds up in an internment camp for those possibly infected by aliens, which is run by the crazy Colonel Curtis (Morgan Freeman). It’s mostly up to Henry and Jonesy and their childhood friend Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg) to stop Mr. Grey from contaminating Boston’s water supply with aliens.
It’s not the worst Stephen King adaptation, but it’s far from the best. Not helpful is that the source material is, in my humble opinion, King’s worst work to date. It adds nothing new to the alien genre (civilians and the military fight aliens that manifest in peoples’ bodies—been there, done that) except the disgusting new dimension of the creatures giving their hosts extremely smelly gas before tearing their anuses open. (For animal lovers, the worst part is likely when Mr. Grey makes a German shepherd eat a dead alien-infected person, which leaves the dog whining, miserable, and lumpy with critters. King, even with a terrible premise, is such a damn good storyteller that I still like the book. Yet the movie, in the hands of William Goldman, keeps all of the revolting details and despite its 136-minute running time, little of the character nuance.
If this movie is about something (other than the power of friendship) I am at a loss to decipher it. I can’t get past scenes like Henry telepathically telling Jonesy (who’s hiding from Mr. Grey in a special room in his memory warehouse—don’t get me started on the memory warehouse) to call 1-800-HENRY. Jonesy calls from a phone in the room, which causes a gun in Henry’s hand to ring and function as a phone.
Then there’s their series of annoying catchphrases like “No bounce, no play” and Beaver’s endless colorful exclamations like “Fuck me Freddy!” and “Jesus Christ bananas!” (by the way, don’t watch this movie on basic cable, no matter how often TNT runs it—these turn into “Foul me Freddy” and something about fried bananas). Then there’s dialogue like, “You carry his picture with you always.” Then there’s Morgan Freeman; I’m annoyed to see such a high-caliber actor here—and what’s with the eyebrows?
On the plus side, I enjoy the actors, particularly Jason Lee and Thomas Jane. And the score is pretty cool. Check it out if you feel like Stephen King lite—but not short.