Full disclosure: Reviewing this is really picking on low-hanging fruit because when I suggested it Oscar Isaac was at a….different spot on my list of boys. If you’ve listened to me over the course of the year a lot has changed in our relationship so watching Mojave – a film I actually own – was weird. This movie is terrible, but I do hate to kick the poor guy when he’s already down. But, you all deserve my honest thoughts on them and dammit I’m going to give them to you!
Mojave is written and directed by William Monahan, screenwriter of The Departed and a Kingdom of Heaven (ONLY if we’re talking the director’s cut). He also wrote Body of Lies which has Oscar Isaac in it too….for about 15 minutes. The plot seems perfectly suited for a screenwriter taking the directorial plunge, mixing Hollywood in-jokes with a heavy dose of literary pretension. In theory, I should love a movie that attempts to blend Hollywood with Hamlet, but the entire affair comes off like a meeting of the minds at Douchebag Central, overseen by a screenwriter who thinks everything he’s saying has never been thought of before.
Mojave revolves around Tom (Garrett Hedlund), a Monahan stand-in/wunderkind who’s been beloved by Hollywood since he was a teenager. Upset by being a white male director who gets everything he wants, he goes off into the Mojave desert where he comes upon a drifter named Jack (Oscar Isaac rocking a wig so bad it’s ALMOST enough to make you forget the Freddie Mercury-esque fake teeth he’s rocking). Jack and Tom pontificate in the desert about God and the Devil which, considering Oscar Isaac is doing the pontificating, should come off as cooler than it actually is. Things go south and the two try to kill each other. Tom leaves the desert, assuming Jack has died, but considering Oscar Isaac was popular by 2015 that doesn’t happen.
This movie is just so snobby. The movie equates the lives of these two men on par with a Biblical allegory so often you’re waiting for Bogie to pop out and say “Seriously, the hill of beans is you guys!” Hedlund and Isaac say all their lines through a bizarre mix of mumbles and accents as if they’re unclear who they’re supposed to be. Garrett Hedlund is definitely in the league of “That Guy” – ie the bland, blonde dude I easily confuse with 18 other guys – and here he’s just a douchey director on par with Colin Trevorrow from the sounds of it. I mean, we never ACTUALLY see any of his movies; he just talks a lot about how popular he is. And this popularity manifests in cameos from the likes of Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins who talk in riddles when they aren’t remind you that they’re besties with Monahan. You can see how this movie came together; Monahan calling up his friends and saying “Hey, you’re in town this weekend. Want to be in my movie.” It’s such a boys club you’re waiting for the strippers to arrive.
If you’ve heard my numerous thoughts on Oscar Isaac then you know I’m willing to admit to a couple of things, one being his attempts to do accents are terrible. This is much of the same. I’m not quite sure what sound he’s going for – a weird mumbly Southern cowboy is the closest way to describe it. Honestly, I’m thinking he just sounds that way because his big fake chompers are the issue. He certainly seems to have fun being crazy, and I can’t complain about the inordinate amount of time he spends in the tiniest swimsuit known to man but…..it doesn’t save the movie. He sounds like Bradley Cooper gargling rocks and the look he’s cultivated can’t really sway me. Every time I watch this I tune out and only come back in when he goes on a rant about Hamlet.
I do wish I enjoyed this more because if the snobbery was dropped down a notch it might be enjoyable. The cat-and-mouse angle stretches itself thin, mainly because both characters are so self-absorbed I’m assuming they’d give up to stare at themselves after 20 minutes. If you REALLY want to see Oscar Isaac with fake teeth….I guess this covers that?