Spare Yourself From the Horrifyingly Awful "Maggie" Review

[SPOILER ALERT - Highlight to see spoiler]

Maggie kills herself at the end. You’re welcome. I just did you a huge favor. Please take the 95-minutes you have been saved and spend them elsewhere. Learn to ride a bike, spin a hula-hoop, or just play solitaire. Really anything to not stare dumbly at the screen at Maggie, the hobbling, inept directorial debut of Henry Hobson, previously only known for opening title design work. Yes, he designed opening titles, and was trusted by the powers that be in Hollywood with a film that had the town buzzing over the Black List script that every assistant and agent thought was a masterpiece. One can only assume, the smog was particularly thick that year in LA and perhaps laced with hallucinogens.

John Scott 3’s (yes, he’s pretentious enough to have an actual numerical digit in his name), penned the atrociously boring student film script that should have been a New York Film Academy thesis short. Instead, this catastrophe that Lionsgate pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival, most likely because the inevitable negative buzz would have made it even more D.O.A. at the box office than it was regardless, is now yours to own on Blu-ray. Don’t. Just don’t.

Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an unshaven, uncomplicated Midwestern man, with an all-American truck, flannel, shotgun, and restraint. Seeking out his runaway daughter in a quarantined city, he, against all possible reason or common sense, brings her home to “enjoy” the remaining time he has with her before “the turn.” Abigail Breslin takes on the title role, letting her contact lenses and FX makeup do most of the work of her transformation, while she alternates between tears and vacant staring. Joely Richardson, so much better than this movie and director allow her to be, plays stepmom Caroline, and it’s her performance that really betrays how inept Hobson must be. To misdirect Richardson, a phenomenally gifted actor from the incomparably talented Redgrave family, takes a special kind of incompetence.

[Spoiler Alert - following paragraph]

Long story short, Maggie gets worse, everyone cries way too much, nothing happens, and then she kills herself in the most anticlimactic ending the creative team could have drummed up on a night depressingly drunk on Natty-Lights around the beer keg in film school. All the tension, or complete lack of tension, is centered on if Wade will Old Yeller his daughter or not. In the end, she takes a dive, sparing her family and the audience of having to care, and the director fades to white. Yes, the movie ends with a fade to white. I hope Hobson’s film professor gives him an A+ for masturbatory choices this year.

[End Spoilers]

Schwarzenegger is not “revelatory,” and that’s coming straight from the mouth of one of his lifelong fans. One can almost hear the misguided Hobson giving him three notes and that’s it: “1) Grow a beard. 2) Talk quietly. Real quietly. 3) Move really…really…really slowly. Drama! Awards! We’ll win them all!” The fact that Schwarzenegger acts badly slower than he has in the past doesn’t change the fact that he does not give a good performance. Even the makeup girl running on to apply a last minute tear stick to his eyelids for a dramatic droplet of canned emotion doesn’t help the fact that his first passage of more than three sentences makes the audience cringe.

Very little information is available online about screenwriter John Scott 3, but supposedly he is from the Midwest. Henry Hobson, however, is a Brit with no connection to middle America. Apparently, Scott was on set, but it’s hard to fathom that he could have approved of the film’s “authenticity” considering how unbelievably unbelievable the dialogue plays. Never has a movie about simple people with a simple way of speaking seemed so blatantly portrayed by rich celebrities with no connection to the characters or situations they’re portraying. The pathos is completely skewed, with elements as simple as line delivery and beat work frustratingly mismanaged.

Stars are stars, and sometimes a director can best be judged by how handedly he/she works with smaller roles and supporting cast. In this case, they’re awful. Hobson punctuates scenes with extreme close-ups of subpar actors blundering out stagnant lines like, “Make it quick.” You might as well add the bump-bump-buuuump of the band to slap a little more overt dramatics on an already melodramatic, clumsy feature debut. To say that this is a student film is not hyperbole; that is exactly what it is. With staggeringly pregnant pauses and languorous shots of sunrises, sunsets, flowers, grass, swingsets, sunrises, sunsets…you get it; not to mention the stilted performances, dialogue, and self-importance of pretentious youth, it’s a wonder anyone was deluded enough to lose money on it.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

A director’s commentary (spare me), a production featurette  deleted scenes, cast/crew interviews, and trailers are the extras included on the disc.

"Maggie" is on sale July 7, 2015 and is rated R. Drama, Horror. Directed by Henry Hobson. Written by John Scott 3. Starring Abigail Breslin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joely Richardson.

Kyle North • Staff Writer


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