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American Psycho (2000)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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7.1
 / 10
29 votes
Genres:
Black Comedy, Comedy, Satire, Slasher Film, Thriller
Director:
Mary Harron Mary Harron
Starring:
Christian Bale Christian Bale
Justin Theroux Justin Theroux
Josh Lucas Josh Lucas
Bill Sage Bill Sage
ChloŽ Sevigny ChloŽ Sevigny
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Review by Chad
Added: July 27, 2007
Every Friday night, me and the woman of the house head out to the big blue department store for our weekly grocery shopping, and every week, I pick through the bargain bin to see what's been thrown in there since our last visit. You can usually find some great deals in there, but on the flip side, it seems like I find myself bitching about the stuff that winds up in there on every visit. The Escape From New York two-disc special edition, Shaun of the Dead, and The Howling are but a few of the gems I've picked out of that bin over the last couple of months, and - call me crazy - but it just seems wrong to have such classics relegated to the $5 bargain bin. A couple of weeks back, I found the special edition of American Psycho laying in that bin, and although I hadn't seen it, I had heard all of the positive press and decided to pick it up. All I have to say is damn - I want my money back.

There's really not a whole lot to the storyline, unless you're just as pretentious as the yuppies found within and can associate some sort of profound meaning with a guy sitting on the john and doing his daily duties. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is but one of the aforementioned yuppies, and he also happens to be one of the vice presidents at some sort of executive firm. Oh, and he's also a serial killer who gets off on murdering people in extremely brutal ways, though visually, most of this is left to the imagination. Reese Witherspoon plays his trophy wife and Willem Dafoe plays the detective that may or may not know about Bateman's deeds, and unless I were to spoil the ending, that's all there is to say about the plot here.

You know what, I am going to spoil the ending here as I can't properly explain my biggest gripe about the film without doing so. After all, this was a relatively well-known film and it's going on eight years old now, so I'm guessing that most of you reading this already know about it anyway. However, if you - like me as of this time yesterday - haven't seen it and want the ending to be a surprise, skip the next two paragraphs.

About twenty minutes before the credits roll, it's revealed that Bateman may not be a serial killer after all: he may just be imagining all of this in his head and we at home are merely watching his twisted fantasies. There is no definitive answer for this (even those responsible for making the film couldn't agree on whether he was or not), but there are clues supporting both theories and in the end, it's up to the viewer to decide for themselves. I have no problems with an ambiguous ending and other films have pulled off this sort of thing with excellent results, but it completely crashed and burned in American Psycho.

On the one hand, let's say that he didn't kill any of these people, and yes, it was all in his head. This renders the film completely pointless, ends the film with no type of closure, and comes off almost as bad as the old "it was all a dream" bullshit ending. On the other hand, let's say that he did do it all: again, where's the closure, and what was the point of all of this pretentious bullshit thrown in at the end? Does he get away with his crimes or not? Does the detective finally pin the murders on him, or does he drop the case altogether? Again, I have no problems with an ambiguous ending, but in my humble opinion, it simply didn't work with this particular film.

With that said, I will say that even before the ending rolled around, I simply didn't dig the film at all. I get the fact that it's an examination of the yuppie lifestyle of the eighties and I get that the characters were supposed to be shallow, but accompanied with the fact that vital pieces of the storyline were omitted (to appease the censors, no doubt), I found that I just didn't care and wanted it to end quickly and quietly. For example, a prostitute mentions to Bateman that she had to go to the emergency room after her last "visit" with him... why? All we at home see is Bateman having sex with her, so what warranted the trip to the hospital? Was he that much of a stud, or did something happen here that we just didn't get to see? Had someone with a set of balls (figuratively - sorry, Mary) tackled this project, we may have at least had that sort of shocking scene to look forward to, but for a film that was hyped as being so controversial and so shocking, I found it to be extremely below average in that regard - and in every other one as well.

I know that some of you loved this film and I realize that a lot of critics wet their pants over it upon its release, but it just didn't do anything for me. As mentioned at the start of this review, it just feels wrong to see some of the classics laying in that Wal*Mart bargain bin, but I can totally see why this one was laying in there, and in fact, I still think that it was priced too high. Hats off to Christian Bale for his performance here, but that doesn't save the film as a whole. 2/10.
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Ginose #1: Ginose - added 07/27/2007, 04:07 PM
If you walked away from the movie with only that in mind, MvMMDI, then read the book. It'll give you the closure you want, I assure you. I enjoyed the movie BECAUSE I enjoyed the book... I enjoyed it hard. The art-direction is ter-fuckin'-rific and the performances are all excellent. I can see how you could dislike the movie when you don't understand the ending, or if you don't catch the grain of the yuppie culture, but with alittle research on the latter, the movie tends to be much more enjoyable. At the point where he's explaining "Hip to Be Square" to Paul Allen, he is simoultaneously explaining the primary cause of his mental instability, consider it. Personally I agree with the books ending... it makes the most sense to me. Give it a try, if you like horror/gore as much as I think you do, then read the book. It impressed me. The movie did, too, but merely as a companion to the book. 8.9/10
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 07/27/2007, 10:08 PM
Dude, what the fuck? I can't believe you didn't like this. And Ginose is right, read the book. That is the only book I've ever read where I've had to put it down because I felt physically ill. It's that brutal. And I'm not the squeamish type, either. All that aside, I can't believe you didn't like this. 9/10
Chad #3: Chad - added 07/27/2007, 11:19 PM
The book may be the cat's asshole, but I judge movies based on solely on what I see there, not how good the source material is. Take The Shining for example - the book is excellent, but you can still enjoy the movie without ever having read it. Now, I'll admit that the book for this one does sound great, but if it's half as good as you two say it is, then I just don't think the movie even came close to doing it justice.

Oh, and about the ending - I fully understood it as it was presented here, but if it was different in the book, then yeah, I might have liked it more. Again, this is another case of "you shouldn't have to read the book to enjoy the movie."
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 07/27/2007, 11:34 PM
You don't have to read the book to get the movie. Not at all. And it's not like reading it would give you any closure. I thought the movie did a good job of taking the book and making a very humble adaptation of it. Not as graphic, sure. But no film could be as graphic as the book.
Ginose #5: Ginose - added 07/28/2007, 02:56 AM
Maybe I should rephrase it. It's a good movie in its own right, just... more enjoyable with the book. If anything, you'll atleast like the movie a bit more than you did... I really don't see why you disliked the movie, though. Really... confuses me, man. Though, I'll admit, the movie is nothing compared to the book, the book is just that good. It's not as if the movie is bad at all, in my humble opinion, but the book is better. Much better. Much more enjoyable. Though, once again, they are both good in their own right.
Vash #6: Vash - added 07/28/2007, 04:41 AM
im totally with chad on this one. the movie is way overrated, and whether or not the book is great, it doesnt change the fact that the movie sucks. you can say it's a nice visual complement to the book, but it isn't a "good movie" solely based on that.
Tristan #7: Tristan - added 07/28/2007, 09:58 AM
I saw this movie long before I read the book, and I loved it. It's violent, it's funny, Bale gets naked. What's not to love?
Ginose #8: Ginose - added 07/28/2007, 01:26 PM
Overrated, possibly. But, once again, stand-alone, it is a great movie. It has everything needed to make a great movie, my only problem with it is the way some of the performances clash. Watching Bale talk to his co-workers was always little akward. It's like Mary Harron was purposely trying to make his acting a polar-opposite to those around him. This doesn't make sense do to the constant references to his outstanding need to conform to the culture he views himself most a part of. Outside of that, though, the movie was nearly flawless. The plot was deep, each of the charecters were likeable (and if not likeable than atleast understandable), as already stated, the art direction was amazing, and all the leads were stellar in their performances... however, I'm still alittle pissed to discover Bale has a nicer ass than me... that one was a spirit breaker... son of a bitch...
Edd #9: Edd - added 07/29/2007, 05:33 PM
Great quites from this film. Not exactly a gigantic fan of it, and I think it lags on in certain parts, but it's definately watchable. 6/10
Edd #10: Edd - added 07/30/2007, 08:59 AM
By quites, I meant quotes.
grain of sand #11: grain of sand - added 07/30/2007, 09:16 PM
duuuuuuude, this movie is one of my favorites, and the book is equally as good.. saw this movie awhile back and I loved everything about it.
christian bale plays an amazing role, and I don't feel you need to be pretentious at all to understand these over the top characters and the storyline..
love this movie 9.5/10
BuryMeAlive #12: BuryMeAlive - added 08/01/2007, 08:19 AM
A "2", I know this movie is not for everyone but a 2/10.... INSANE !!!!!!
bluemeanie #13: bluemeanie - added 08/03/2007, 10:50 AM
Oddly enough, I purchased the 'Uncut' version of this film at Wal-Mart for $5.00 just two nights ago, and it was actually the first time I had seen this. It was one of those films I had always wanted to get around to seeing, but never did. Boy, I didn't miss much. The novel was fantastic and there's a lot of good stuff here, but it's just surrounded by too much superfluous shit. Christian Bale does a decent job as Patrick Bateman, but Reese Witherspoon is painful to watch, and Jared Leto and Josh Lucas are almost as bad. My favorite scenes are when the men are sitting around comparing their business cards. My least favorite parts are the ending -- which does not work at all -- and the opening credits, which are far too creative. They mislead you. I also enjoyed the endless diatribes of how he enjoys Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis. Those were fun. Overall, this film was a BIG disappointment for me, wasn't nearly gruesome enough and really made the book so much softer than it actually was. 4/10.
Chad #14: Chad - added 08/03/2007, 04:22 PM
*high-five*
Ginose #15: Ginose - added 08/03/2007, 04:45 PM
Okay, bluemeanie, I'll give you the fact that this movie did nothing for the book. It was far to soft and didn't carry the general themes very well. However, the parts it did transfer were lovely. Admitablly they could have transfered more of the nastiness over... the part at the zoo would have been excellent and would have given the themes over much better. I'll still argue that this is a good film, primarily because it looked so nice as you watched it. The thing I hated most is how they sacrificed the message the Ellis was trying to convey in exchange for a more comprehensible story... but, admit it, if they really wanted to make the story relevant and still keep the message then the movie would have over-shot 3 hours. Would you have wanted to sit through the frivilous yuppie bullshit for 3 hours, just to get a moral? Fuck that, I love the book and even I don't want to spend 3 and a half hours waiting for it to get to the point.
bluemeanie #16: bluemeanie - added 08/17/2007, 10:36 AM
That is still NO excuse. You can't give the movie credit because doing the full book justice would have made the film too long. "Ordinary People" did the book justice and it was two hours in length. "The Rules of Attraction", another novel by Easton Ellis, was a great transfer to film. "American Psycho" doesn't work because the direction is terrible, several of the performances are way off the mark, and the film can't stick with the same pace or tone for too long. Maybe a better director would have handled the material differently.
Ginose #17: Ginose - added 08/17/2007, 10:31 PM
I'll agree, the director wasn't right for shit. I don't even remember how she weaseled her way into doing this one.
Regardless, I say again, the story was comprihensable, the visuals were lovely, and nearly all the performances (regardless of what you may think) fit the charecters perfectlly. The pacing was alittle sore and alittle tired, but I thought that was damn near the only thing that ruly gave this movie any sort of tone and atmosphere.
And "Rules of Attraction" did NOT do the book justice! I was so pissed when I finished watching it that I had to sit down and right a book/movie vihn diagram. I love Brett Easton Ellis' writings. His novels are golden. So far"Less Than Zero" is the only one that actually tried to do justice to its source... even it didn't work out very well.
I hear news that "Lunar Park" may get a movie sometime... hmmm... That'd be... interesting to see, to say the least.
Tristan #18: Tristan - added 08/17/2007, 11:10 PM
I unfortunately saw Rules of Attraction before reading the book. And are you ever right. Did you know that Sean Bateman was Patricks' brother? And Pat even had his own chapter in that book. I never clued into that until reading the book a second time. Now I've had the informers for quite some time, and I'm praying that gets a little recognition. It's a fantastic book.
Ginose #19: Ginose - added 08/18/2007, 01:01 AM
Seconded. Also, if you recall in American Psycho, there's actually a hillarious lunch between Sean and Patrick on Sean's birthday. Before going there Patrick's talking about how much he hates Sean's guts and how he bought him a tie that was far to nice for him so he went out and got him a watch and decided to wear the tie to the lunch instead. Great chemistry, I found it hillarious.
Tristan #20: Tristan - added 09/15/2007, 04:36 PM
You sure that wasn't in Rules of Attraction?
Ginose #21: Ginose - added 09/15/2007, 05:30 PM
Posititve. They both have scenes where the brothers do lunch, the scenes are at different times, though. I recall the one in ?American Psycho" specifically because Sean comments that the resteraunt their at sucks and that he could have got them in at Dorsia because he knows the owner. Patrick goes into a huge mental rant about how his unclassed hippie-swine brother shouldn't have such upper-class connections.
Tristan #22: Tristan - added 09/15/2007, 08:32 PM
I'll have to read that again.
The rat part always makes me a little uncomfortable. With the Habitrail tube in the chick's snatch, then he cuts her in half, etc. Nasty stuff. I read that in like grade 9 too, surprised the teachers didn't have a shit fit.
cky2kendall #23: cky2kendall - added 02/16/2008, 07:45 PM
I just saw this movie on Film Four and have to agree. I kept watching to see if something would happen, but it didn't. And now I feel stupid for wasting an hour and a half on this movie. There were a few funny moments considering how pathetic these people's lives were, but other than that I was kinda bored.
Nirrad #24: Nirrad - added 06/05/2008, 12:22 AM
Holy smokes! You guys are on crack. This movie is just great. I rented it years ago thinking it was a slasher, of course it wasn't, but I still enjoyed it and thats when I was at the age no to appreciate films like this. I never read the book for Rules of Attraction, but I have the movie and I think its also great.
Nirrad #25: Nirrad - added 06/05/2008, 12:23 AM
Actually, I'm gonna watch this right now. I bought it last year and still haven't opened it, now it's time. *shakes fist* you haters!
solidsnake_2 #26: solidsnake_2 - added 04/01/2009, 09:50 AM
calm down ladies
385 #27: 385 - added 04/01/2009, 12:19 PM
A year later.
385 #28: 385 - added 04/01/2010, 03:31 AM
And coincidentally exactly a year after THAT, I finally watch this movie. 2/10 is WAY too fucking kind. Was that Christian Bale or Jim Carrey? Shit sucked.
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