“No one pays $15,000 for a back rub.” — Words of wisdom from The List (2000)
Oh my God.
Listen, I have seen some truly terrible films before but very few were as bad as the 2000 thriller The List. The List is not just bad. Instead, it’s bad on a level that very few films manage to reach. It’s almost as bad as April Rain and that’s pretty bad.
(It’s also currently available on Netflix, just in case anyone wants to take the risk.)
The film opens with a lingerie-clad woman (Madchen Amick) reading the U.S. Constitution to a fat, naked, middle-aged man. We discover that he’s a judge when she calls him, “your honor.”
“I am no longer your honor,” the naked fat guy says, “I am your dishonor. And, as for the founding fathers, fuck them.”
Anyway, then the police come rushing into the room and arrest both the woman and the judge. It turns out that the woman is Gabrielle Mitchell (Madchen Amick), a prostitute who is exclusively used by the rich and powerful. She has a list of her clients, one of whom happens to be the governor of New York state.
Despite the best efforts of her over-the-top pimp Dom Roselli (Roc LaFortune), Gabrielle is convicted and sentenced to prison. Hoping to get a few years taken off of her sentence, Gabrielle testifies at the judge’s trial. She hands the list over to yet another judge, Andrew Miller (Ryan O’Neal).
Andrew, who is conservative and very religious, has recently been nominated to the state supreme court. However, now that he has the list, he find himself being threatened by shadowy figures, one of whom tries to stuff a cow’s tongue down his throat. Or something like that. I’m not really sure what was going on in that scene and dammit, I’m not going to waste any more of my life trying to figure it out.
Meanwhile, Gabrielle’s associates are also being murdered. Written in blood near every body: Snitching Pigs Die!
So, if a bunch of community theater actors got together with a film school drop out and attempted to make a film out of a script written by a 16 year-old with authority issues, the end result would look a lot like The List. When Andrew holds a press conference, there are about 6 reporters present and only two of them get to ask questions. When the bad guys all meet to discuss what should be done about Gabrielle, they appear to be sitting in a community college study room. When a character is found dead, it’s obvious that some crew members got a little bit enthusiastic about splashing red paint all over the set. The actors may trip over their lines and they may seem frequently confused by what their saying but, obviously, this was one of those films were second takes were considered to be too expensive.
Did I mention that Ben Gazzara is in this thing? Because he so is! I can’t being to imagine what path could have led Gazzara from co-starring in Anatomy of a Murder to appearing in something like The List but, let it be said that he actually gives a pretty good performance. Or, at the very least, he does the best with what he’s been given.
Ryan O’Neal on the other hand…
O’Neal wanders through the film, watching the action through bloodshot eyes and defiantly refusing to show the slightest hint of emotion or interest. It’s an interesting idea actually, casting an actor who appears to be perpetually hung over in the role of a straight-laced, moralistic judge.
Usually, I make excuses for films that were obviously filmed with next to no budget but seriously, The List could have been made for Avatar money and it would still suck. I’m sad to say that it doesn’t even manage to raise to the level of being so bad that it’s good.
Instead, it’s just bad.
But, in case you’re into that, it is on Netflix.