“Charles Swan”: 2013’s Biggest Turkey?
I haven’t finished making this year’s bottom 12 list—I’m comin’ for ya, Anna Karenina!—but I’ve already seen a strong contender for 2013’s worst movie: Charles Swan III. Or, as it was previously known, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. I got a sneak peek at this stinker because I’m writing TV Guide Magazine‘s “On Demand” column for next month, and the film will be available on VOD Jan. 8 before hitting theaters. Consider yourselves warned.
Sounding painfully hoarse (and I doubt that’s a character choice), Charlie Sheen all but inhales the title role as a lady-killing, drug-abusing photographer who faces the prospect of death and retreats into infantile misogynistic fantasies (e.g. he’s pursued by the scantily clad “Secret Society of Ball Busters”). Having Charles declare of his ex-girlfriend (Katheryn Winnick), “One minute I want her back and the next I want to kick her—I know that’s not a classy thing to say” is beyond tacky given Sheen’s real-life history of domestic-violence allegations. And there’s so much foreshadowing of Charles’ demise—he lies in a coffin and rises from the dead in one particularly creepy sequence—that it’s almost like the film was made hoping Sheen would die in real life and turn this ill-conceived nightmare into a grotesque curio.
Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman—rocking a Rudy Giuliani-esque combover and a Yakov Smirnoff-esque Russkie-fro, respectively—go along for the ride as Swan’s business manager and stand-up comedian client. The presence of these Rushmore alums, as well as the pristine visual compositions and retro-rock soundtrack, make Charles Swan feel like Wes Anderson’s worst movie ever (and that’s really saying something, as anyone who suffered through The Darjeeling Limited can attest).
But it was actually written and directed by Roman Coppola, better known as the son of Francis Ford Coppola (who produced this mess) and brother of Sofia Coppola, who must’ve called in her Lost in Translation chit with Murray to get him to participate in this travesty. Roman throws everything at the wall—Monty Python-style animation, musical numbers, marionettes, pointless cameos from Stephen Dorff, Richard Edson, Dermot Mulroney and Parks and Rec‘s Aubrey Plaza—and nothing doesn’t stink.
He runs out of steam at the 78-minute mark and breaks the fourth wall, having the cast (which also includes Patricia Arquette in a thankless bit as Swan’s sister) introduce themselves to the camera. That may be Roman’s greatest achievement. Because once these actors get a look at this debacle of a Swan dive, they’ll surely wish they could remove their names.
Any predictions for next year’s worst movie? Does Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters still have a shot?