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Say A Prayer For "Serenity"

by Jason Adams

Although I don't think it's ever spoken in the film it's hard not to have the "Serenity Prayer" -- God grant me the serenity, wisdom, change, courage, check and etc -- echoing in your cavernous, more cavernous by the second, head while watching Serenity, writer-director Steven Knight's nervous-breakdown-put-to-film. Starring Matthew McConaughey as the hard-drinking and hard-sexing good ol' boy in paradise called Baker Dill (and really we all knew it was only a matter of time before Matthew McConaughey played a character called "Baker Dill" right?) watching Serenity is, well, an experience that calls for prayer. Any prayer. An exorcism, even.

I realize at this point, with these balls-deep references to demon possessions and nervous breakdowns, you're probably thinking that Serenity sounds like a miserable experience. It's not...

It's just you've kind of got to go a little over the top with Serenity if you want to make it anywhere near the rarefied air this sucker heaves. You know those parts in Super Mario Brothers (the original NES version obviously; I am old) where Mario would shoot up into the clouds for some extracurricular coin collecting? And there'd be those snapping plants and you'd be like, "How the hell do those plants live up here?" And then a wall of fireballs would be spinning around you and suddenly you were wearing a raccoon skin on your little cartoon body and playing the flute and it's like, "What? Huh? What?" Yeah. That.

To write about what Serenity is about is a challenge. I am challenged. To plot its points might rob the thrill of discovery from you, but I'll give you a general gist-shape. Baker Dill (BAKER DILL!) lives on an island where he's always hunting for a great big fish. He takes tourists out for spins to buy the bait and the bourbon, but he's single-minded on that darn fish. Even when he's sexing the local single lady (Diane Lane, wasted, but who isn't really) he's talking about that fish.

Then a mysterious woman - you know she's mysterious because she wears very large hats - rolls into town, and she's played by Anne Hathaway, expert hat wearer. Seems somebody's got a sleazeball husband (Jason Clarke, sleazeballing) in need of killing. It's a Noir set-up played to Maximum Noir -- full-throated bourbon banter back and forth and back and forth, while finding shadows in a sunny place in which to pose alluringly, with sweat. 

And then strand by strand, wedge by wedge, chunk by ever-heaving heavenly chunk, Serenity collapses in on itself like an imploding star, and the light, the light, my friends, it is blinding. It's not up to me to steal from you that sensation, so all I will say is even after watching it I have no idea what anyone's intentions were with Serenity -- how seriously it's intended, if it is pre-planned camp, or if I was maybe gassed while I was waiting for the movie to start and it was all an  hallucination]. I don't know. You don't know. I don't think we will ever know anything ever again. The world after Baker Dill is a strange place. Come. Become one of us. It doesn't hurt anymore, I promise...

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Reader Comments (23)

I was hoping for a trashy-bad WILD THINGS / THE PAPERBOY kinda mashup. I've heard nothing but awful reviews so far but I'm totally still seeing this tonight! lol.

McConaughey, Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke... the cast is amazing so I'll watch them in anything ;)

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

I miss Annie being in films that match her gifts.

Is this it for her?

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

McConaughey (49) and Hathaway (36) play high-school sweethearts.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Me, too, Keegan. Diane Lane needs gifts-matching material as well.

And speaking of The Paperboy, the McConaissance is definitely dead, my friends. JKL is back to making misfire after misfire like it's 2008 or something. RIP, early 2010s McConaughey.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Pretty People Sexing Things Up Sexily? I'm in!

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I appreciate how you kind of spoiled the film without spoiling the film. Well done.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

So the AWFJ will be all over that.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

McConaughey needs to fire his agent. Save for Interstellar his career post Oscar has been an unmitigated disaster.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

I read a spoilery review online and I CAN'T WAIT TO WATCH IT!


January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMMinDC

I read the spoilers and... holy shit that is bad but maybe so bad it's good. I kind of want to check it out.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

This is my favorite sentence I've read in awhile: "Then a mysterious woman - you know she's mysterious because she wears very large hats - rolls into town, and she's played by Anne Hathaway, expert hat wearer."

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

This was delightful to read. I just googled "Serenity movie spoilers" and my mind immediately broke down. I confirmed the plot details across four different articles just to make sure it's not all some elaborate hoax.

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterER

They have been showing the trailer for this movie since last year

January 25, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

"..echoing in your cavernous, more cavernous by the second, head .."


January 25, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I saw this last night thanks to your review Jason. It is UNMISSABLE. We were giggling so much and had a great time. It's kind of terrible but also kind of great? And I think at least Hathaway is aware of the movie she's in. The others dont seem to be but that makes it all the more delicious.

And the movie has soooo many psychosexual Daddy issues that it defies believe. All those shots of Matthew McConaughey's bare ass while he's symbolically reaching for his son (!!!)

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

It got a D+ CinemaScore!
If mother! got an F, I need to see this!!!

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatagonia

It only comes out in the UK in March so hopefully I can remain spoiler-free but I can’t. wait. for this mess.

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKiki

As I left the theater a woman a few rows back started asking anyone nearby, "Did he catch the tuna? My friend and I both fell asleep."

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Dave S -- this is the greatest overheard I've heard in months!

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I honestly can’t believe what I just watched lol. I admire the director for really fucking going for it Jesus Christ!

I can’t believe this is being marketed under the guise of a film noir thriller to unsuspecting audiences haha.

January 26, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMallinckrodt

that really was completely bonkers. Do NOT spoil yourself on this one!

January 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

As the credits rolled at my screening of this, and I was laughing to myself, trying to keep the maniacal level down to something more crowd-appropriate, the woman sitting in front of me hears me and says "That was great, wasn't it? Matthew McConaughey always makes the best movies." I just nodded my head and tried my hardest to keep the laughter inside.

Everybody PLEASE go see this. It NEEDS to be seen to be believed. TRULY.

January 29, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

"The world after Baker Dill is a strange place." *****

February 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDan H.

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