Movies-A-Go-Go: Misery

1990 dark comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Following an accident in blizzardy conditions, an author finds himself in a situation where he has to spend a whole lot of time with Kathy Bates.

It's Movies-A-Go-Go time! Here were my thoughts as I watched Misery for the first time since the early 90s. I had forgotten how much overt dark humor there was in this, and that's ultimately my favorite thing about it other than Bates' fun performance.

Opening shot--a Lucky Strikes cigarette and a match, the only sound the tapping of a typewriter. You can’t help but wonder if this is foreshadowing.

Speaking of typewriters...that’s a sound I really never want to go away. I love the sound of typewriters. But only when people are using them. They aren’t all that musical when they’re just sitting there not being used.

Untitled isn’t a very good name for a novel, Paul.

Aha! It was foreshadowing! Caan just smoked that cigarette!

You feel like Caan is the type of actor who only did this movie where he plays a romance author on a few conditions: 1) He gets to drive a cool car. 2) He gets to show off his arm by throwing a snowball at a tree.

Man, I like that briefcase thing.

As a child of the 80’s, I can’t help hearing a Duke-boy-esque “Yeee-haw!” when there’s a movie car crash.

I didn’t know William Goldman wrote this. Wait, who's William Goldman?

Kathy Bates, hired for this role primarily because she’s as strong as a fucking ox! Did you see the ease with which she hoisted James Caan over her shoulder?

Why yes, searching for "Kathy Bates carrying James Caan" did reveal some disturbing websites devoted to a Kathy-Bates-Carrying-People fetish and some truly awful erotic fan fiction. 

I know she said she’s a nurse, which explains why she’s expert at dabbing a person’s face with a wash cloth.

James Caan’s legs are a freakin’ mess!

Ahh, God bless Richard Farnsworth. Buster. Look at him work that rubber band!

I like how Buster’s system (that he’s putting the author’s name through) consists of a post-it note on a wall. That’s very close to my system--a post-it note that I will eventually lose.

I wonder how much money a man would have to pay to have Kathy Bates shave him. That would be nothing less than a sexual thrill.

“Oogie.” Stick around with Kathy Bates, Paul, and you’re going to learn all kinds of new words to use in your next novel.

Hotel manager with bolo tie: “He’s a good guest. He never causes problems, never makes a noise. Although he did throw a snowball at one of our trees once.”

“Give me a bag of that f’in’ pig feed and ten pounds of that bitchly cow corn.” From that line until she freaks out about spilling soup. That’s wonderful. I bet that’s the clip the Academy Awards showed after announcing her name for Best Actress.

That look in Caan’s eyes. Terror creeping in.

The interaction in the car with Farnsworth and his wife--the one where she tries to get frisky and says (I’m paraphrasing), “I wish we were home so that I could bang you hard!”--could be a Viagra commercial.

Pooh? That sounds like slum kid language, Kathy Bates!

Apparently, Paul has never seen a pig before.

“Kathy Bates, there’s a pig in here! Bring me a bag of that fucking pig feed!”

What’s creepier? The inflated adoration? That soup incident where she went nuts about bad language? Or the pig impression she just did?

Holy crap, Caan! That seems like a lot of urine there!

Great perspective shot when upset Kathy Bates comes into Caan’s room to yell at him for killing the character.

“You better hope nothing happens to me. Because if I die, you die.” I actually had a nurse say that to me during a brief hospital stay once.

Paul’s justifiably freaking out here, but I’m not quite sure where he thinks he’s going with 25% of his limbs working at all.

I do love Kathy Bates performance, but it’s almost because it’s like a female Nicolas Cage type performance. I think my favorite dramatic performances are the ones where you’re almost convinced that it’s supposed to be comedic. This fits perfectly.

A match! Back to that foreshadowing!

Shorter winters have something to do with the ozone layer? So Kathy Bates’ character is a progressive wacko?

Coca-Cola and Cheetos, the preferred snacks of lunatics.

Why would somebody give pain medication to a mattress?

I like that Caan’s character can maintain his dry humor and wit through this difficult situation. That, friends, is grace under pressure.

Annie has anger problems.

Oooh, I know the expensive paper hurts the worst when it’s slammed down on broken legs.

Another sound I miss: the dialing of a rotary telephone.

Annie’s house is meticulously decorated. They really did a good job adding all sorts of little details that are completely innocuous but still somehow add to the creepster tone.

I haven’t really liked the music much in this, but the score during this suspenseful scene where it juxtaposes between shots of Caan trying to get back to his room and Bates coming back is really good.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.” Well, it’s not “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” but it’s a start.

“He didn’t get out of the cock-a-doody car!” Acting gold, Kathy Bates. I am surprised the character has no problem using the word “cock” though.

Misery was the first time I ever saw Kathy Bates, I think. And the twelve years I had to wait to finally get the nude scene in About Schmidt was the most excruciating twelve years of my life. Permanently blue-balled, it seemed.

Oh, my God. Caan’s going to date rape her. This has taken a turn for the perverse.

Typing montage! I might have to write to Tchaikovsky sometime.

What a cheap way to introduce a gun.

And the askew camera angle to show that Kathy Bates is unhinged probably isn’t necessary.

Well, it certainly looks as if Caan is going to bring a knife to a gunfight.

Caan practice with his knife in the bed might be the worst training montage scene I’ve ever seen in a movie. Also: He should say “Hi-ya!” as he does it. That’s what you call a missed opportunity.

Ceramic penguin faces due south. So fung-shui got him!

Ooh, that subtle little hint with the “found your key” reference that she’s been in his pants.

There are songs that are overused in movies and this Beethoven song might be one of them. But it almost always sound perfect in whatever scene it’s in.

“God, I love you.” Man, that’s just about perfect.

“Hi, Pumpkin,” a greeting returned with a flip of the bird. They’re just like a married couple now.

So I guess she has two guns.

I haven’t typed anything in about ten minutes because I’m too upset about Farnsworth. The only thing that gives his death a silver lining is that his horny wife is free to have tons of sex with other men.


Caan fights dirty. But Bates just said “cocksucker,” a real slum kid word, so they’re even.

Why does this fight scene remind me of my honeymoon?

I think this movie has something to say about the relationship between artists and their fans, but I’m not quite sure what that message is.

That final scene with a new “number one fan” was obviously meant to set up a sequel--Misery 2: Electric Boogaloo. It's unfortunate that it never happened.


cory said...

Good Go-Go. I'll have to revisit this some time. Caan and Bates have incredible chemistry here and the claustrophobic tension is amazing. The sledgehammer scene ranks as one of the most cringe-worthy scenes, ever. Has this ever been a play? I'm too lazy to look that up, but it seems more suited to a play. Most horror stuff bounces off of me, but this is very effective, maybe because it plays on my subconscious fear of someday being elderly and bedridden and at the mercy of a malevolent caretaker, that is now no longer subconscious. A 16.

Shane said...

Yes, it has been a play. Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf starred in a Broadway version in 2015. I thought that was enough of an answer and didn't scour Google to find out who else has played the characters on stage.