Do yourself a favor and see Jonah Hex while you still can. Yes, I’m serious.
A few years ago, when I finally got around to seeing the Nicolas Cage version of Wicker Man, I was equal parts delighted and pissed. Delighted I was witnessing such a beautifully ridiculous spectacle, and pissed that no one had told me about it sooner. All I heard about it when it came out was that “it sucked”, and it was quickly shuffled out of theaters and forgotten. What those same people had apparently neglected to mention was that NIC CAGE PUNCHES A WOMAN WHILE DRESSED AS A GOD D*MNED BEAR. What the hell, people? Help a brother out.
Everyone seemed hung up on the filmmaker’s intention. Look, the filmmaker’s intention is not my concern. I just know I would trade 100 “eh it was okay I guess” films for one Wicker Man.
Today, I find it within my power to prevent at least one similar oversight. I’m here to tell you that, short of Josh Brolin dressing like a gorilla and pushing Megan Fox down stairs, Jonah Hex is this year’s Wicker Man. I was disappointed when the Frotcast listeners voted that we see it. I expected to hate it and be bored. Instead, I laughed almost continuously from the opening credits to the closing ones (not a huge commitment considering it’s only 72 minutes long). More incredibly, I was not stoned.
This movie has everything. EVERYTHING CATCHES FIRE! EVERY BAD GUY GETS KILLED TWICE! SILLY WIGS FOR EVERYONE!
And perhaps the best part, the expository dialog. Expository dialog gets a bad rap — dialog that provides backstory and moves the story along isn’t bad in and of itself, but in Jonah Hex, it’s terrible. Awesomely terrible. Probably ninety percent of the film is expository dialog, with the characters going off on some soliloquy that’s all but meaningless to the plot anyway. I would tell you to make a drinking game out of it and drink every time there was hilariously expository dialog, but you might die.
The film begins with Jonah Hex telling us his entire life story via voice over, just so we’re properly caught up when he kills some random people with a horse-mounted gatling gun in the first scene. Soon after, we need to know who the villain is. This is accomplished through a meeting between President Ulysses S. Grant and his right-hand man, Lieutenant Cornelius P. Mustache, played by Will Arnett. They express worry over a rogue Confederate general, Quentin Turnbull. “Do you know what Turnbull’s Mexican servants called him?” Grant asks rhetorically. “‘El Terorista,’” he answers.
But what does ‘El Terorista’ mean??? THE WORLD MAY NEVER KNOW.
CUE JOHN MALKOVICH IN PREPOSTEROUS WIG! NOW HAM IT UP AND IGNORE ALL PUNCTUATION! ACTION!
From there, Jonah Hex kills some more people. Wouldn’t you know it, they keep trying to F with him. But all he cares about are two things, collecting bounties and finding Quentin Turnbull, the man who burned his family alive. Hex is an outlaw (who’s nice to animals). But all that changes when Quentin Turnbull fakes his own death for some reason, and instantly resurfaces with a super weapon built by Eli Whitney. We know this because Turnbull draws up a giant diagram of the weapon on the wall. He explains to his right-hand man that it was built by Eli Whitney, “the man who invented the cotton gin and started the industrial revolution.” You know, that thing that happened a few weeks prior.
F*CK YEAH, HISTORY LESSONS!
We’re not sure why Turnbull’s men follow him, but they must really like him because they chant “TURNBULL! TURNBULL! TURNBULL!” whenever he’s around. Of course, with Turnbull hell bent on destroying the country for some reason, the country’s only hope may be the outlaw Jonah Hex. Which we know because President Grant tells Will Arnett, “This outlaw Jonah Hex may be our country’s only hope.”
From there, Jonah Hex teams up with the army to go after Quentin Turnbull. And by “teams up with the army,” I mean they deputize him in a whore house, leave together, and then never again appear in a scene together for the rest of the movie. After that, Jonah Hex goes to an underground MMA fight featuring an acid-spitting reptile man for some reason. Actually, there is a reason, and that reason is “because it’s awesome.” Oh, and did I mention the reptile man’s MMA moves incorporate parkour? Because f*ck yeah they do.
Point being, Hex prefers to go it alone. In the process, he gets killed like six times. And every time he dies, he gets resuscitated by faceless Indians who exist solely for that purpose. Also, they’re Crow indians so crows follow Jonah Hex wherever he goes. And if you’re worried that all that dying is going to be boring, don’t be, because every time he kind of dies, he FIGHTS QUENTIN TURNBULL IN PURGATORY! At one point, the scene intercuts between Hex beating up Turnbull in real life while simultaneously beating him up in some murky dream state. KILL HIM TWICE! MAKE HIM DEAD!
Oh right, Jonah Hex can revive dead people to talk to them. You’d think he’d use this power to maybe apologize to all the random dudes he killed, or to ask, “Hey, so what’s up with the afterlife? Is it all ice cream and sluts or what?” But mainly he just uses it to PUNISH THEM EXTRA! Not only can he talk to dead people, he can touch them and make their skin burn for some reason (which is useful for getting information). “The less time they been dead, the faster it happens,” he helpfully informs us. Uh, okay. Look, the main reason I mention this is because at one point, Jonah Hex kills a guy, then immediately revives him so that he can PUNCH HIM INTO A MILLION SPARKS! OOH WAH-AH AH AH!
I don’t want to spoil much more of it, but this might the most OOH WAH-AH AH AH-iest movie I’ve ever seen. Okay, I’m going include just one more detail, because I think it sums up the movie as a whole: Quentin Turnbull, who plans to destroy the US Capitol with his super weapon on the 4th of July, plans to fire this weapon from aboard his ship coming up the Potomac. As this ship steams towards the Capitol, one of Turnbull’s men takes aim through the periscope. We cut to the guy’s POV looking through the periscope. I sh*t you not, the periscope sight has the outline of the US Capitol building drawn into it.
Jeez, it’s a good thing they approached the capitol from precisely the same angle. And it’s a good thing I saw this movie so that I could tell you about it. Grown Ups and Knight and Day open this weekend. F*ck those movies. See this one. I guarantee you’ll be talking about it longer.
Jonah Hex gets The FilmDrunk Seal of Approval.
– Additional recommendation: bring a couple friends with you so you don’t feel like the lone weirdo who’s laughing at everything. If I’d seen this alone it would’ve been very Cape Fear.
– PS: Jonah Hex has a big hole in his cheek which makes it hard for him to talk. Meanwhile, Megan Fox’s character’s name is “Lilah.” Fish hook your own cheek and then try to say “Lilah.” Doesn’t work too well. Same with the movie. When Jonah Hex says her name it comes out like “Yaigha.” Cracked me up every time.