American Psycho (2000) - A Review

I am not a Christian Bale fan. I liked him in NEWSIES (1992), but after that he turned into a mean Ryan Reynolds. I don’t even much care for nice Ryan Reynolds so a mean one, does nothing for me. At least, Ryan brought Rick Moranis back. That did score him some points. The only hope for Bale is showing up with Phoebe Cates in his back-pocket. Then, I’ll get down like a clown for the mofo. Until then, meh.

Nearly everyone I know loves AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000). I don’t. It had been years since I sat down and watched it again, but I was not impressed. It tries way too hard and thinks it’s far more important, intelligent and unique than it is.

The film follows this rich, sexist, pussy Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and his decent into madness. It’s the 1980s and Bateman is in his late 20s and makes tons of cash on Wall Street. He likes to freshen himself up with an OCD routine of moisturizers, face masks, body washes and scrubs. He makes a big deal out of it and via shitty narration tries to be deep and existential while explaining how the routine hides who he truly is - a sociopath. In all honesty, he just comes across as a doofus with a shiny face.

At work, he wastes no time sexually harassing his employee Jean (Chloë Sevigny) by telling her to wear high-heels and better clothes because she’s too attractive for a business suit. Yeah, he can fuck right off. I wish she had said, “I can beat the shit out of you in sweatpants, so shut the fuck up, pretty boy.” Sadly, Jean is not empowered enough to tell him that and instead just thanks him.

Everything about Patrick irritates the shit out of me, and I get that’s the point. Still, that’s the only point and it’s not enough to make a movie. Consumerism and the shallowness of yuppie society is a bad thing. Yeah, I get that. I saw CADDYSHACK (1980).

Pat’s close circle of friends sucks as bad as he does. His fiancé Evelyn (Reese Witherspoon) is a yammer-wench. She goes on and on, but never says anything. She cares only of herself and schmoozing it with other rich idiots.

His side chick Courtney (Samantha Mathis) is a pill-popping nutter-butter who is just as empty and self-serving as Evelyn. Her boyfriend Luis (Matt Ross) is a pipsqueak “Yes” man who is blind to the affair between Cort and Patrick.

Pat’s other buddy Timothy Bryce (Justin Theroux) is a jagoff that needs a punch in the face, only I’d be too worried about getting the grease from his gelmet hair all over my hand. He’s just a loser that hangs out with all these other losers. I don’t care about them, their lives, their problems or their sanity. I wish this was a disaster movie like the TOWERING INFERNO (1974), and as the group of them go up in flames, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen cheer their demise while sharing a beer.

Unfortunately, Newman and McQueen are nowhere to be found. Instead, we have these phony-ass punks pretending to care about world politics while their only concerns revolve around one-upping each other and having the best table at some ritzy-ditzy restaurant. They can enjoy their fancy, over-priced dinners. I prefer $5.00 pancakes at 2 AM in a diner where the badass waitresses would kick these motherfuckers out before they stepped in the door.

At one point, Patty-boy gets his panties in a bunch because his work-buds have better business cards than him. When he leaves, we see him be a douchebag to a homeless dude and then violently attack him.

He then gets more depraved and commits crazier and more obscene acts, or does he? It could be all in his demented mind, but here’s the important part; I don’t care.

Whether he murdered some peeps or not, he’s scum. I can’t stand him. He just irks me in every conceivable way.

Some people compare this to A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971). Fuck that. There are thematic comparisons that could be made, but AMERICAN PSYCHO is far more like BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB (1987) meets BAD INFLUENCE (1990).

In A CLOCKWORK ORANGE it can be argued that society and even people with the same attitudes as Patrick Bateman encouraged Alex’s (Malcolm McDowell) behavior and definitely were the cause of his reoffences and return to deviancy. When ‘healed’ with aversion therapy and sent into a violent world, he was a sitting duck who was terrorized just as he had terrorized those who came before him.

Such is not the case with Patrick. Patrick has choices that Alex doesn’t. Patrick is a coward who hides who he is. Patrick is a liar and a con-artist. His entire persona is built around his facial masks, expensive restaurants and high-end EVERYTHING. He’s not even a person. He’s the cover of a GQ magazine. He runs to his lawyer when he’s caught and is a sniveling weak bitch about it because he can’t think his way out of a paper-bag when shit gets real. He is Wall Street! Patrick made Patrick. At any time, he could have walked away from what was driving him insane. He could walk away from the money, the job, the mistresses, the fiancé, and everything else – but he’s still left with himself which is nothing. He has no identity outside of what he made himself into and it’s his own fault. He’s an empty shell. Alex was many things, but never empty.

Both are selfish and violent antagonists but Alex was a helluva lot more charming and had far more depth than Patrick. Comparing the two is like comparing Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) of CITIZEN KANE (1941) with ARTHUR’s (1981) Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore). Sure, both movies follow rich jerks who make a lot of mistakes, but their differences far outweigh their similarities.

Also, Alex would murder Patrick if shit ever went down. Chainsaw or not, Patty-boy would be crying for his mommy.

Lastly, Malcolm McDowell is RAWR RAWR RAWR sexy and should be naked all the time. Christian Bale is not, at all.

In the end, AMERICAN PSYCHO is watchable. It pisses me off in quite a few areas and not the way it intended to. I get irritated when the film tries to be a smartass. The narration of Patrick is grating, and not because of his pomposity or tone, but rather how predictably pretentious it all is.

I guess this would be a shocking flick for someone who didn’t grow up with movies from the 70s and 80s that were far more in-your-face.

To all you cats, who do enjoy it, awesome. I’m glad you do, but if you haven’t already, go watch HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK (1980), I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), STRAW DOGS (1971) and of course A CLOCKWORK ORANGE! Those are shocking too, but they have a bit more to sink your teeth into. They also don’t ram garbage pseudo-intellectualism down your throat, which is always a plus.

Rating: 3.5/10

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