After watching Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit on YouTube, I had to check in with some associated videos to learn where some of the more ridiculous scenes came from The Wicker Man. I couldn’t resist – I actually watched The Wicker Man from start to finish, and in context, the scenes aren’t quite as funny as they are when edited together in the aforementioned video… instead, the highlights we’re shown from The Wicker Man seem like a string of bad film making decisions.
If you’re not familiar with The Wicker Man, here’s a crash course.
It’s a remake of a good movie from 1973 directed by Robin Hardy and starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland. The 2006 version is directed by Neil LaBute and starring Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn and Kate Beahan. The movie chronicles a California motorcycle cop’s (Mr. Cage) nonsensical, frustrating (for the audience, not just for Mr. Cage’s character) and at times boring journey. Mr. Cage’s character witnesses a horrible accident involving a station wagon he’s just pulled over and a tractor trailer. The station wagon bursts into flames after the collision, and Mr. Cage’s character is unable to rescue the little blond girl inside. During his recovery from this, he begins having waking (and… uhm, you know, sleeping) dreams about the little girl, after which are over he takes some nondescript pills that are never explained. Another cop comes by to visit him at his house and mentions that no bodies were found in the flaming wreckage and the car was not registered. Then he gets a letter from a former fiance asking him to come to the weird farming commune island she lives on off the coast of Washington to help her find her missing daughter. He begs a ride off the guy that flies in the imports/exports and starts asking questions, making no effort to be even slightly civil with the weird women he encounters or their strange drone like men who do not speak. (The female dominated society is a queen bee/worker drone metaphor kinda thing! With no talking for men!) He essentially yells all of his questions and if the women don’t answer, don’t give him the answer he wants or don’t answer fast enough, he asks again, louder. The women try to point out that he’s not in California and has no jurisdiction in Washington on their private property, but he quickly dismisses this as irrelevant.
There’s lots of meaningless double speak; first, the women won’t even admit the girl exists. Then he finds the girl’s name in the school attendance records. The teacher admits that the girl is what Cage’s character would consider dead (yeah, they believe in some sort of transferring spirit world thingy that is never explained) and she’s buried in an old abandoned church grave yard, as per the mother’s wishes. Mr. Cage’s character is pretty sure the girl was burned to death, sacrificed for the harvest… or something. Later, he gets permission to exhume the body, but all he finds is a burnt doll. (Hence: “How’d it get burned? How’d it get burned? How’d it get burned? How’d it get burned?”) Since he’s been on the island, he keeps thinking he sees or hears the girl, and this happens again; he ends up in the church’s basement, which is mostly flooded, and someone locks him down there over night. Somehow, he doesn’t drown, which is a huge stroke of luck for both him and the ladies. Finally his former fiance lets him out in the morning. Convinced the girl is still alive and will be sacrificed at the harvest festival, Cage punches a woman in the face and steals her bear costume. (Yes, you read that right, but let me convey that again, just so you are clear that this is what really happens in the movie: he punches a woman in the face and steals her bear costume!!!) On cue, the ladies and drone-men put the girl on a pyre, but Cage runs up in his disguise, punches another woman in the face and runs off with the girl. They run through the woods for a while until they come to a clearing, and the girl gets too far ahead for him to keep up – she’s a fast little girl! All the towns people are there and the girl runs to them, and the little girl asks her mom if she did it right… led him here, she means. They reveal to cage that they are sacrificing him in accordance to their ritual. Somehow, they got the bullets out of his gun… which is weird, because he checked his gun after the last time they would have had access to it. First they break his legs, have a bunch of bees sting him, then they put him in a giant wicker tower and burn him and some animals alive. They seem to allude that his former fiance had just left the island to get pregnant; she was never running away. Perhaps they’re also saying that the car from the accident didn’t have any bodies and was unregistered because they planned that too, somehow, so he’d be more likely to come to the island to try and save the little girl after he failed save a different little girl and as per the ritual, he had to come to the island of his own free will… or something. Anyway, that’s how the movie ends, with him burning to death. Imagine we could all get a fictional turn burning Nick Cage to death?!? That’d be something.
That’s not to say there aren’t any laughs In the Wicker Man, because there are. Nicholas Cage punching women in the face (or kicking them in the chest), running around in a bear costume, most of the dialogue spoken in scenes that take place on the island is generally funny… There are also those deliberate movie gags that are supposed to be scary but aren ‘t. He’s walking around in the upstairs part of a barn and falls through the floor and holds on for dear life until he drags himself back to the elevated level’s floor. Why the barn floor gave way, I have no idea. The barn, like the rest of the buildings on the island, seem to be in good order… he imagines he sees the car crash from the highway hitting a little girl on the ferry… he wakes up from a dream and he’s holding the girl’s drowned body, but then he really wakes up… lame.
I do think it’s worth mentioning that for all of Mr. Cage’s yelling, “They’re in my eyes! Ah! My eyes!” there are, in fact, no bees in his eyes. Maybe he meant to say that he could see the bees with his eyes… Ugh, this movie sucks. I can, at least, see things with my eyes: Nicholas Cage sucking at acting.