Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman are held hostage — by an unintentionally hilarious screenplay
Friday, Oct. 14 — “Would you shut up?” one of the villains barks in “Trespass.” “You’re taking all the air out of the room — air that other people could do good things with!”
If you think that’s a clumsy and mind-bogglingly lame line, wait until you hear the rest of the dialogue in Karl Gajdusek’s screenplay, which often sounds as if it was written in Swedish, translated into Japanese and then translated yet again into English — using one of those cheap hand-held translation devices. You won’t believe your ears. Frequently, you won’t believe your eyes, either.
There are some perfectly fine movies that, for one reason or another, end up going straight to DVD or cable. There are also many, many more awful films that eventually make their way onto Netflix or HBO after playing for a week or so in a half-dozen theaters. Despite the presence of two Oscar winners — Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman — and a fairly high-profile director, Joel Schumacher (“Tigerland,” “Flatliners”), there’s no denying that “Trespass” belongs in the second category.
Here’s a recipe for a wacky Saturday night: Invite your wittiest friends over, mix up several pitchers of margaritas, rent “Trespass” on pay-per-view and get ready to laugh until the cows come home. (At a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, a few giggles were heard early on, followed by a scattering of jeers and then full-fledged derisive howls of unintentional laughter. It was probably the worst movie at the festival, but definitely one of the funniest.)
If you’ve ever seen “The Desperate Hours,” with Frederic March and Humphrey Bogart (and hopefully you never got a look at director Michael Cimino’s terrible remake with Anthony Hopkins and Mickey Rourke), you’ll already have an idea of what transpires in “Trespass.” Kyle (Cage) and Sarah (Kidman) are an upscale couple, living with their petulant teenage daughter, Avery (Liana Liberato of “Trust”), in what looks like Architectural Digest’s idea of a fortress. Sarah designed their posh prison; Kyle is a gem dealer peddling “diamonds for oilmen’s mistresses,” we’re told, that are “whiter than the snow on Mount Fuji.”
While Sarah and Kyle spend another evening realizing that their marriage is quickly heading to the ICU, Avery sneaks away to attend a swinging party where the guests say things like, “It’s all Kool-Aid, son!” So she misses out on the arrival of some unexpected callers, who rough up Sarah and Kyle while looking for some jewels stashed away in Kyle’s safe.
No, wait: Perhaps what they really want is a kidney because the head thug’s mom was an abused wife who finally went into renal failure and now needs a transplant. Or maybe this has something to do with the day Sarah may or may not have enjoyed a little afternoon delight with Jonah (Cam Gigandet), the hunkiest hostage-taker in Hollywood history.
“Your filthy lust invited them in!” Kyle sputters to a shocked Sarah, but she could just as easily point the finger right back at him: He’s got a few rather large skeletons bumping around in his closet as well.
If Kyle and Sarah are slightly out of whack, however, their captors are truly nutty. For some reason, they’ve brought along Petal (Jordana Spiro), a stripper who is more interested in smoking crack and raiding Sarah’s wardrobe. You can tell this is a Joel Schumacher film because when Petal finally picks out a suitable evening gown, it’s exactly the same shade of Oriental Health Spa Purple as Kyle’s hideous necktie; Schumacher’s movies may not always be good, but they are always carefully color-coordinated.
When it comes to picking up quick paychecks for making junk, Cage has become the Michael Caine of his generation, so it’s not especially startling to see him maneuvering stiffly through another role and speaking in that spray-starched voice he uses whenever he feels a script is beneath him. It’s anybody guess why Kidman signed on, however, unless she was actively looking for a part in which she could show off her scream and be slapped around at regular intervals (you could make a drinking game out of how many times Sarah is smacked down to the floor).
Even with a running time of under 90 minutes, “Trespass” has to resort to padding out its plot, so Schumacher provides us with multiple takes of the scene in which Jonah emerges from a swimming pool — in slow-motion, naturally — to surprise Sarah. There’s also an absurdly drawn-out finale that features a blizzard of bucks that look suspiciously like Monopoly money. Perhaps Kyle and Sarah’s cash ain’t nothing but trash — “Trespass” certainly is.