There are some movies that are so bad that you should be able to take them back, no matter what the return policy is. It shouldn’t matter if you opened the disc, accidentally scratched it, or used it as a coaster. You should be able to return a bad movie on the principle of it.

It would go something like this…

You march into the store, walk up to the customer service desk, and ask to see a manager.

“Can I help you?” he asks.

“Yes, I would like to return this disc.”

“But you already opened it. You can’t return something once it has been opened.”

“But it… well… sucks.”

“No it doesn’t. Look at that hip, shiny package, with everything all out of proportion on the cover. It’s really cool. Aren’t you glad you bought it?”

“No. This movie gave me ulcers, a headache, and a rash that I’m embarrassed to even talk about in public. I couldn’t see for six hours after I watched it. My cat walked through the room while it was on and now his balance has been disrupted… he keeps walking into things. I can’t believe you even sell crap like this. I’d like to return it, please.”

At that point, the manager smiles with a I-just-got-caught sort of grin and while rummaging through the cash register, he says, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. It did stink, didn’t it? I’m sorry.”

You let out an exasperated sigh and hand the manager the movie, which you hated so much, you ran over it with your car.

“But… we had some good times too, didn’t we?” the manager asks, with a small tear forming in his eye, his lower lip quivering slightly. “Remember how one of my clerks suggested Freeway and you really liked it? Remember that? We’ll always have Happiness, won’t we? Won’t we? I even sold you that collector’s edition of Vertigo that you treasure….”

“Don’t try to sweet talk me,” you insist. “I’m really hurt. I think it might be time for me to see other store managers.”

“You don’t mean…?”

“Yes! It’s over! I can’t just forget about this movie and pretend it never happened!”

At least, that’s how it should work. In reality, the clerks snicker as you leave the store with the movie and later, while you balance your checkbook, you find yourself weeping uncontrollably and dialing the suicide hotline over and over again.

But is “The Doom Generation” really that bad?

No, to be fair, it’s not that bad. It’s even worse…

It has some good points: 1) the cast is fairly amusing, but unfortunately, they’re fairly amusing in other movies, 2) the cameos are fun to pick out, 3) some of the sets are interesting, and 4) there is that hip, out-of-proportion pictures thing going on in the cover art.

The bad points are easier to find, mostly because there are more of them: 1) the acting is subpar and that’s being generous, 2) the plotting is juvenile, and 3) the jokes, which should be the saving grace in a movie like this one, aren’t funny. I’d list more of this movie’s faults, but I’d hate to put any unnecessary pressure on Pixelsurgeon’s server by loading it up with that much text.

Okay, a movie like this is an easy target, and regardless of that fact, I should try to give it a more critical review. So, here goes…

Two young, dim lovers, Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and Jordan White (James Duval) travel through a teen angst-filled Los Angles, swearing and waxing poetic. Their idyllic world is shattered when they run into Xavier Red (Johnathon Schaech), who takes them on a cross-country murder-spree during which every time they buy something, the price comes to $6.66. This is all pretty profound stuff so make sure you have your philosophy degree handy…

Although Amy loves her pretty, yet woefully stupid boyfriend, she can’t help but feel an attraction for Xavier. And, Jordan is feeling stirrings of his own for their new friend, constantly wearing an expression that may as well be a thought bubble that reads, “What are these feelings I’m having about our randy new travel companion?” Thankfully, Xavier is the type of guy who will sleep with just about anyone, so none of the love triangle issues really hamper things for him.

Something tells me that I wasn’t exactly the target audience. There is a nagging feeling that I’m just not disillusioned enough. I don’t find bloody stump sight gags amusing. And, it takes more than just saying the word “fuck” to make me think you’re clever. So, I suppose that what it really boils down to is the fact that maybe I’m too old for a movie like this. Either that or it actually does lack any kind of appreciable skill or imagination.

To add insult to injury, “The Doom Generation” presents itself as a ultra-hip, above-it-all masterpiece. It lays on heavy symbolism without really having a message, all while trying to look like a sly, slick independent film that stands as a brash statement against mainstream movies. It’s a brash statement all right… film can be dangerous in the wrong hands!

A few tips the director might want to keep in mind when starting a new film: Vulgarity doesn’t equal intelligence. Overt violence isn’t witty. Sarcasm can’t substitute for story. And even sex is boring when it’s nothing but two (or more) people grinding against each other.

Yawn!

I can’t recommend this one as either an off-the-shelf buy or rental, unless you’re in the mood to see something really, really awful. If you want to see it you can borrow my copy. And don’t worry about returning it any time soon…

The Doom Generation (1995)
Dir. Gregg Araki
Stars: James Duval, Rose McGowan, Jonathon Schaech
Genre: Drama

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