Anaconda [Retro Review]

“Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?”

The Scoop: 1997 PG-13, directed by Luis Llosa and starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight and Kari Wuhrer

Tagline: You can’t scream if you can’t breathe.

Summary Capsule: Documentarians hook up with psycho snake hunter who’s hunting his sanity

Justin’s Rating: Hey, it’s WAY better than Gigli!

Justin’s Review: I may not have made this perfectly clear before, but I have a fairly strict “No Swimming In The Amazon River” policy. Even schoolchildren failing algebra know darn well never to set one toe into the Amazon, or else a platoon of piranha will skeletonize you in three seconds flat. A pleasant thought, thousands of little teeth serving up Justin horse-dirves, but one I’m happy to supplant with the eight new reasons that the movie Anaconda warns about the dangers of river dipping:

  1. Poisonous river-wasps that swim into your mouth and sting you
  2. Some little critter that swims up into your urethra and hooks its spines into you there, requiring it to be cut out
  3. Hundreds of ravenous baby snakes just looking for a finger or ten to dine on
  4. Eric Stoltz, Scuba Man
  5. Dead monkeys being used as bait
  6. Crazy British guys whacking golf balls into the river at 50 mph
  7. Leeches. “On my scrotum,” as one character eloquently puts it.
  8. And of course, 40-foot-long anacondas who subscribe to the Corset Method of murder.

It goes without saying that the entire cast of this movie spends the majority of their time willingly going into the river as if it was a YMCA kid’s pool. Thus, enjoy the first forty minutes or so of Anaconda, as the actors stand waist- or neck-deep in the most treacherous river in the world, their calm expressions communicating the level of concern about, perhaps, whether their co-star peed in the river and that’s what’s causing the warm currents. No, if Justin was in this movie, Justin would be screaming like a girl getting a noogie if he touched water, clawing his way up the highest (and no doubt, most poisonous) tree in the region. No penis fish for Justin, no sirree.

Naturally, you can’t expect Anaconda to be a good movie. After all, it’s about a big, sometimes-computerized snake. Yet it turns out that Anaconda is a bad movie with good credentials, and that starts to make it worth your pretty penny.

You’d be absolutely amazed at the casting here. No one in the $20 million payday range, to be sure, but there are quite a few famous actors — who were either on the rise or fall from stardom — that managed to be roped into this year’s Big Snake Flick. Jennifer Lopez is the spunky girl in the tank top, and Eric Stoltz is The Professor to her Mary Ann. They go on an Amazonian expedition to film a documentary about stupid career moves of Hollywood stars, and bring along Ice Cube, Owen Wilson, and cult frequent flyer Kari Wuhrer for the fun of it.

The best of this here cast definitely has to be Jon Voight, an already mentally off-kilter individual, as the Crazy Snake Hunter they pick up for fits and sniggles. Voight sneers as he smiles, his eyes bug out on command, and he talks in the most ridiculous Spanish accent while hissing threats and words of wisdom to those around. He arrives at levels of such manic overacting that you just can’t help but fall in love with evil all over again.

Anaconda very much reminded me of Congo, another “so bad for you it’s got to be fattening” epic of animals gone wild. Both these films compromise between playing the ridiculous plot for laughs and striving for straight-up horror, and that creates a rather palpable mix. Hey, I’d rather digest a campy snake flick that shows a shot from inside the snake of someone being swallowed than a dozen stock teenagers in peril from Mr. Vague Slasher movies. Wouldn’t you?

Well, I guess that’s why I’m me, and you’re you.

The sneer that launched a thousand ships.

Intermission!

  • Jungles make people sexually… intense
  • Jon Voight… that accent… and he even looks evil when he’s smiling
  • How to woo a girl: know a lot about fireflies
  • “Wait! Do you hear that?” Oh, sheesh. Are they even paying royalties to the scriptwriter who first wrote that line?
  • The anaconda is “voiced” by Frank Welker
  • Why I’ll never be swimming in the Amazon — penis fish
  •  No! Don’t blow up the artificially made wall in the river! It could upset the ecological balance… of, you know… okay, I’m talking out of my butt.
  • He IS evil! He shot a monkey!
  • Snakes can scream. Apparently.
  • Check the “Vertigo cam” on J.Lo
  • The Amazonian film shoot was occasionally disrupted by the fact that a number of the cast were incredibly afraid of snakes.

Groovy Quotes

Sarone: Never look into the eyes of someone you kill, they will haunt you forever. I know!

Gary: Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?

Westridge: The last time I was in water like this I had to stay up all night picking leeches off of my scrotum.

Sarone: This river can kill you, in a thousand ways.

Gary: There’s something down there.
Sarone: I know.
Gary: No, I really MEAN it!
Sarone: I really mean it, too.

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