Take a Drink: for nudity
Take a Drink: for cigarettes
Take a Drink: “pussy”
Take a Drink: whenever Sharon Stone busts some balls
Take a Drink: whenever a cop’s an asshole
Take a Drink: whenever Michael Douglas does something obsessive or violent
Take a Drink: for parallels between Stone and Douglas
Do a Shot: for Gone Girling (even if it happened here first)
Do Two: if you thought a Gone Girling was going to happen
Do a Shot: Hello Kitty!
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
This week when I drew a random film from my massive meta-list of all the movies one must see to be movie literate I drew… Basic Instinct 2. You know any list of movie literacy isn’t complete without the worst films of all time, right?
Tommy Wiseau’s star will shine brightly centuries after The Theory of Everything is forgotten
Anyway, the only way to truly appreciate the shittiness of Basic Instinct 2, clearly, is to watch Basic Instinct right before it, and then review it because I had the perfect Hello Kitty joke for the drinking game. Anyway, the plot is as follows: Sharon Stone is a successive novelist (and psychologist, and sexologist, and chess Grand Master…) who writes a book describing the murder of a rock star. When a rock star that she just happens to have been porking turns up dead exactly as described, a barely hinged homicide detective (Michael Douglas) becomes convinced that she did it, and a sexy game of cat and mouse ensues. Oh, and who’s the mouse is a bit up in the air, considering her next novel’s about a murdered detective…
Any child of the 90s remembers this for the rampant sex and nudity, and in a lot of ways its legacy has been defined by that. Basic Instinct is plenty more than that, though. It’s Paul Verhoeven’s Vertigo. Okay, it’s also Paul Verhoeven: Sleaze Maestro, but don’t you miss him?
As for that Vertigo comparison- the San Francisco setting and even some of the locations beg for it, Jerry Goldsmith’s score has some serious Bernard Herrmann vibes to it, and the constant twists and turns of the plot, including that bravura final shot, certainly invoke a bit of that Hitchcock magic. it may not be entirely equal to that standard, but Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas grab for the gold and deliver a fun, sexed up substitute, full of brassy film noir meets Hustler dialogue that feels like nothing else out there. Verhoeven also slickly directs, with some beautiful tracking shots and sharply edited setpieces.
Sharon Stone’s femme fatale may be a bit ridiculously sketched (just wait for the sequel), but she devours the part, delivering the perfect mix of camp and nuance and kick-starting an entire generation of poorly parented puberty. Michael Douglas is a sardonic, paranoid, and driven foil and potential victim, perfectly cast, although I’m not sure how he ended up being the 90s sex thriller go-to (Fatal Attraction, Disclosure) that he became after this.
Must be all the cunnilingus.
The script is plenty entertaining, but fill it with water and it’ll spring more leaks than a Gosselin family condom. The cops in particular are exactly as stupid as the plot requires them to be at any given moment.
“She passed a lie detector test? Well, that settles it. Donuts?”
Don’t think too hard about the psychology or sex politics of the film, either. It’s pretty surface deep, the usual sex as violent, sex as danger, empowered sexual female as sexy violent danger that Hollywood often pumps out.
Kind of like the Gone Girl of its time, Basic Instinct puts a slick, stylish, and devilishly fun veneer on an entertaining if not half as insightful as it thinks it is pulp premise.