By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
There is something to be said for being able to step outside of your own time and culture and view a film on its own merits. Sure, King Kong is clearly stop motion today, but with a little imagination he’s still a fearsome beast. Sometimes, though, a movie just doesn’t hold up at all.
Yeah, the critical reappraisal ain’t comin’
Lili is about a sweetly retarded 16 year old French girl who joins a circus and ends up in a love triangle between a bitter ventriloquist (Mel Ferrer) and a racy magician (Jean-Pierre Aumont) because… it was a different time?
Well… it’s short. A really young Zsa Zsa Gabor’s in it, which proves there was such a time. Honestly, it was goddam entertaining, entirely unintentionally. You could cut a hell of a horror film from this without adding any footage at all.
Thanks to these guys.
Also, Leslie Caron does a splendid job of acting the innocent, naïve teenager. Too good of a job, really.
When I called Lili sweetly retarded, I wasn’t exaggerating. She appears to be an orphan, but has zero common sense or survival skills. Without the first few minutes, she’s almost turned into a sex slave by an old man after she just wanders into the back of his store. She also REALLY loves puppets.
Those Bucky Larson teeth aren’t helping her cause, either.
Okay screenwriter, so Lili’s innocent to the point of childishness (an 11 year old would feel too old for her puppet routine). Then why make her so damn sexy?
Don’t look at me, I didn’t make her wear that.
I’m only halfway joking- Lili is absurdly sexualized for someone who thinks puppets are real. Just about every single male character in the movie makes a pass at her, entirely un-self consciously. And in the end, it’s a damn romance film between a bitter 40 year old and a 16 year old with the mind of an 8 year old.
All of those statutory shenanigans might be less overt if the rest of the plot didn’t involve so much deeply creepy ventriloquism. There’s a fucking 15 minute puppet show in the middle of the film, which is freaky enough without considering that Mel Ferrer is basically using it to manipulate Lili, who I’m not sure ever figures out they’re not real. Of course, considering that last shot of the film, they might be.
COME PLAY WITH US!!!
Besides all of the horrific dummies, there’s an incredibly dark streak in this supposedly sunny film. In addition to all of the near-rape, when Caron doesn’t initially get hired by the circus it’s heavily implied that she decides to kill herself, before she’s distracted by Ferrer’s dummy, which might be the first ventriloquist’s performance that prevented instead of caused suicidal feelings.
Jeff Dunham boasts a 75% mortality rate.
Lili might be one of the most tonally bizarre films ever made. It’s completely off the unintentional creepiness scale. It’s an utter delight.
Take a Drink: for every oogle or pass at a girl
Take a Drink: whenever someone smokes or drinks
Take a Drink: for magic acts
Take a Drink: every time Mel Ferrer uses his child molester voice
Do a Double Shot: when Lilli finally figures out puppets aren’t real
Do a Shot: holy fuck, the puppets! And only you can see them!